Territory Stories

Plant Industries NT newsletter



Plant Industries NT newsletter

Other title

PINT newsletter


Northern Territory. Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Plant Industries Division


Plant Industries NT newsletter; PublicationNT; PublicationNT; E-Journals; Plant Industries NT newsletter






Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; This publication contains may contain links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.




Horticulture industry; Agriculture; Rangelands; Management; Northern Territory; Periodicals; Cattle industry

Publisher name

Northern Territory Government

Place of publication



Plant Industries NT newsletter


Newsletter, February 2012

File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

. Page 3 of 8 maintain the soil moisture. The irrigation system was also upgraded to reduce salt build up and ensure adequate watering (Figure 4). The research activities so far have involved investigating the effects of different pollen parents on known female palms. This has proved to be an instructive exercise for testing their productivity and combining abilities (Figure 5). In the process, a quick but effective test was developed to determine pollen viability of collected and stored pollen from the research farm and pollen obtained from a grower in South Australia. The results have highlighted the potential deficiency of pollen management. There were significant differences among the samples tested, with the grower-supplied pollen being the least viable (Figure 6) and the Departmental pollens being highly viable (>90%). Figure 6 shows a pollen sample in which only 38% of the grains are viable. These appear illuminated after staining with fluorescein when viewed under UV light microscope. Significance Selecting the best male palms, looking after them well, ensuring the adequate pollen collection, storing the pollen in proper conditions, and verifying their viability prior to mass pollination is critical for optimal productivity. Pollination is the most significant process of date production due to its unique reproduction biology. The date palms (Phoenix dactylifera L.) are dioecious (the trees having separate sexes). Assisted cross pollination is a must for commercial production and one male palm can supply sufficient pollen to set fruit on 50 female palms. It is also well documented that dates exhibit the phenomenon of metaxenia where the pollen parent affects the size, the time of maturity and eating quality of the fruit. Hence, selecting the males with right stuff is critical. Where is this leading? 1. The Department has proposed a detailed study over the seasons to investigate: a) the various compatibility combinations between the known female varieties and pollen sources; b) the adequacy of pollen supply for pollination; c) protocols for appropriate pollen storage; and d) pollination techniques. 2. Setting up a system for testing the pollen viability and extend the service to the industry stake holders 3. Adding new germplasm materials to the pool for enriching the gamut of qualities. 4. Establishing a healthy block of male palms for developing a pollen bank that can supply the required viable pollen for compatible combinations. 5. Enhancing the quarantine measures for minimising or eradicating pests in the plantation. 6. Identifying and trialling new chemistry for use in integrated pest management systems in the industry. 7. Developing descriptors for the best Australian dates and promote them for domestic and international markets. 8. Developing organic production techniques for dates. 9. Assisting growers to create a forum for coordinating the production, processing and marketing activities for the industry. Useful reading RIRDC (2010). Towards an Australian Date Industry- an overview of the Australian domestic and international date industries. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra. Publication# 10/174. ISBN 978-1-74254-141-9 Simon Hilda (1978). The date palm, bread of the desert. Dodd, Mead& Company, NY. For further information: