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The date palm tree
           The date palm tree is the principal richness of the Jérid. This area of the south Tunisia located at the edges of the chott, presents the favorable place to the date palm tree culture. Indeed its dry and hot climate makes it possible this tree to develop and carry out in the long term the ripening of its dates."The date palm tree saw the feet in water and the head in the sun " says a man. A well maintained date palm tree can produce up to 100 kg of dates. Annual production of Tunisia is 60.000 tons/year what accounts for 1% of the BNP.


Utility of the date palm tree.

The date palm tree is venerated by the inhabitants of these regions because its utility, does not stop with the production of dates. Its wood is used to cover the roof of the houses. Its young still white palms are used to manufacture baskets, plaits, ranges... Its dead palms are useful like hedge of garden, or to make fire at the bakers, the potters and the artisanal brickyards. Its juice " legmi ", is drunk fresh like syrup or fermented like alcoholic drink.


There exists more than three hundred varieties of dates whose celebrates is Deglet-Nour. But only three are marketed: Deglet Nour, Ftimi and Akhouat. The others are preserved badly and are intended for local consumption.
Deglet-Nour which also exists in Algeria and in the USA, in California, Arizona and Texas, is the "queen" of dates. Of gilded color it is very delicious and is consumed like a fruit.
At the beginning of the century American realized that the climate of California, Arizona and Texas is similar to that of North Africa. Thus they imported a quantity of date palm tree on an experimental basis. And they succeeded since the US ones currently produce dates of good quality of which Deglet-Nour. At the end of the last century they led in America two brothers of Nefta whose trade was a sharecropper of wire father, to teach them art to cultivate the date palm tree. The latter never returned.


As we said the date palm tree likes water and heat. Two conditions difficult to find in such an arid area. There is water there are oases. Formerly the sources came out naturally of sand and formed rivers to irrigate the palm plantations. Today the majority of the sources tare and are replaced by surveys.

Culture of the palm tree.

The cores of sown date palm tree, become palm. But never the date palm tree which one expects. To reproduce a date palm tree such Deglet-Nour, for, it is necessary to cut the rejections (small palm trees which push on the trunk of the mother) of their mother and to replant them elsewhere. Five years afterwards, they will start to produce dates of the same variety as their mother. It is the secrecy which American came to seek.
The date palm tree are planted according to two designs. Either on line, in the new oases, by keeping 8 meters of distance between each palm tree, or according to the ancestral method, in the old oases, of provision tight. The first has the advantage of allowing the production of dates of great gauge but unfortunately requires much water because the ground remains with naked between the palm what supports a fast evaporation. The ancestral method consists in planting the tight palm the ones against the others and while placing fruit trees with large foliage, such: fig tree, apricot trees, pomegranates between those, allow a sufficient shade to make it possible the ground to keep its moisture during several days even in full summer.
The palm tree requires little maintenance. Spring is the season of the pollination which consists in extracting pollen from the male palm to pose them on the modes of the palm females. A male palm can fertilize to 50 palm females. One makes profitable this operation to remove the tree from his dead palms.
The gathering of dates is done in autumn and at the beginning of the winter. The work of the ground is done in winter. Each year the quarter of the plantation is worked. The use of the manure as manure is the rule.

Under the palm trees.

Surfaces between the palm are used to make agriculture: tomato, carrots, sweet peppers, peppers, onions, spinach, let us combons, salad and various green vegetables. As the oases of this area are at the edge of the chott, the ground contains salt. The antidote was found by the old ones. It was enough to mix the ground with sand of the dunes to reduce the phenomenon. The result is with the top of any hope since the remaining salt little gave to food a particular savour, very appreciated by all those which visited this area. The same phenomenon occurs with the meat of sheep because this one is accustomed to brouter the somewhat salted grass.