California commercial date production, valued at $51 million in 2009, is centered in the southern interior valleys. Date farmers in the Coachella Valley in Riverside County produce two thirds of the state’s crop. The remainder is grown in Imperial County; mostly in the Bard-Winterhaven area.

Dates are also grown in neighboring Yuma County, Ariz.

The Keck family owns and operates Hadley Date Gardens in Thermal in the Coachella Valley. Albert Keck is a third-generation date grower and is concerned about the weevil threats.

“The weevils could be devastating if they are not contained and spread into the date-growing areas,” said Keck, who also serves as chairman of the California Date Commission (CDC).

Keck is optimistic that weevil containment will occur.

“Sometimes an evasive pest is found but does not become established. Hopefully that will be the case,” Keck said. “The state of California is aggressively working to contain and eradicate the pests.”

Keck says palm trees are iconic to California and are found in residential, public, and agricultural areas. This makes the weevils a statewide issue. Statewide funds should be utilized to fight the pests; not just dollars from the agricultural industry.

To report a pest, call the California Pest Hotline at (800) 491-1899 or go online to www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/reportapest.

cblake@farmpress.com