Indio, for more than a century, has been one of southern California’s most important agricultural regions, recognized for producing 95 percent of the nation’s date crop. The city’s location has the perfect “hot and arid” climate needed for date palms to flourish in high summer temperatures and low humidity with minimal rainfall during the summer and fall, along with an adequate water supply necessary for the successful production of date gardens. As the city has grown to accommodate more businesses and families, the date gardens of long ago are now located to the south and southeast of Indio.
The scientific name for date palms is Phoenix dactylifera—refers to feather palms that may grow more than a 100 feet tall and live more than 200 years. Date palms are known to be dioecious—males produce pollen and females bear fruit. Commercial date gardens typically have one male tree and up to fifty female trees per acre. All female trees are hand pollinated by one of man’s oldest agricultural techniques. Dates ripen in six to seven months and are harvested from September through December.
The desert climates also make the valley suitable for production of variety of domesticated grasses, flowers and trees.
Top valley cash crops: The following are among the Coachella Valley's key agricultural products sold in 2009: Table grapes: $117.3 million, Bell peppers: $68 million, Ornamental nursery stock: $55.4 million, Lemons: $42.1 million, Dates: $33 million, Turf: $19.7 million, Carrots: $13.7 million, Cauliflower: $11.8 million, Lettuce: $10.9 million, Sweet corn: $10 million
California Date Administrative Office
760-347-4510 or 800-223-8748
California Women for Agriculture www.californiawomenforagriculture.com
Riverside County Agricultural
Indio District Office