Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is primarily cultivated in the regions of the Middle East and North Africa that are characterized by high evapotranspiration, low and sporadic rainfall and dependency on irrigation for crop cultivation. The effects of sub-optimal irrigation on the chemical properties of dates were investigated. Chemical quality attributes of date palm (cv. Khalas) grown in northern Oman showed variable responses to reduced frequency of irrigation water applied during fruit development. Trees irrigated on a daily basis showed a significantly higher fruit water content, juice volume, and titratable acidity (TA). Deficit irrigation treatments had the highest total-and reducing sugar content. Trees under water stress that were irrigated once per week showed significantly high dry matter, total soluble solids (TSS) and pectin. Sucrose, tannin and pH were not significantly different among irrigation treatments. Manipulation of irrigation frequency can be used to enhance certain chemical fruit quality attributes of dates.
Key words: Date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, Oman, food properties, water stress, food chemistry.
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