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Flying Disc Ranch
Box 201
Thermal, CA  92274
(760) 399-5313

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And God said: "Get to Work!"
Robert Lower, the owner of Flying Disc Ranch, told me the story that when God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, he gave them a date palm tree and told them to "get to work". This story probably stems from the fact that the date palm is the oldest known plant under cultivation and that it will not produce dates unless the male tree produces pollen at precisely the same time the female tree is in bloom. Since the male and female trees rarely bloom at the same time in nature (and if they did, the male would have to be exactly up wind of the female), man's hand is needed to deliver the male pollen to the female tree. That's what Robert Lower does.

Doing God's Work
Since 1976, he has been helping Mother Nature produce dates on his 11 acre farm, located in the desert town of Thermal about 40 miles south of Palm Springs. This area, known as the Coachella Valley, is the Date Capital of the U.S. Robert planted about 650 trees on desert land and maintains a totally organic farm, which means that doesn't even cultivate the ground around the trees in order to develop a biodynamic system.

The main work at the Flying Disc Ranch takes place in February when the males begin to bloom. To keep the male blossoms from releasing their pollen into the air and to keep bees out (they love male pollen), the blossoms are covered with bags as soon as they begin to open. When they are fully open, the blossom branch is cut, the pollen is shaken loose and collected in a vial, waiting for the females to bloom a few weeks later. When the female blossoms open, Robert dusts them with the male pollen and from there Mother Nature takes over.

Flying Disc Ranch produces 13 types of dates.  Here are 5 of the most common ones you'll find at the Market, referred to by their classical Arabic names with English translation in parenthesis:



Prices (lb.)

(Not Changing)

Driest and least sweet; keeps the best; Most versatile, but mainly for eating; the biggest producer. A softer variety.


Bread Variety: $3.00.

Noir Variety: $3.00.

To Be Possessed)


Sweet; larger than other varieties.

$4.00 - 5.00
(depends on size and moisture content)

(Ball of Honey)

Fresh version available Sept & Oct; has a coconut-sugarcane-apple flavor. Those who know dates, go for fresh Barhis.

When ripe it has a honey/butter flavor; has least fiber and is the softest; used for cooking, preserving and freezes well.

$3.00 (fresh)

$4.00 (ripe)

(Late Harvest)

Semi-soft; high sugar; almost indestructible; a utility date that can be used for cooking or eating; neutral flavor; and never spoils.


Derries Purple in color and soft. $4.00

All varieties except the Zahidi come in various grades. Flying Disc also sells date paste for $3.00/lb; coconut date bars for $3.00/lb. and walnut date bars for $1.00 each.

Most of Flying Discs dates go "from tree to consumer". They are ripened and dried on the tree with only their natural sugar. Those labeled "dry" mean that they have not even been washed. These are important features compared to the sticky grocery store varieties, which are washed and dried on wire mesh racks and typically have been hydrated (i.e. cooked).

Informal Tasting
We conducted an informal tasting and rated the dates according to our favorites:

No. 1
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Full flavored
No. 2
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Deglet Dry
Tasty and not sweet
No. 3
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Good, strong flavor
No. 4
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Sweet, milky flavor

Date Nutrition Data
Robert wants to dispel the common misconception that dates are fattening.  Dates are an excellent source of dietary fiber and they are high in magnesium. Tree-ripened dates, which have only their natural sugar, contain no sodium, fat or cholesterol and are only 24 calories each.  Dates have the highest nutritional value per single food!

From Flying Disc Ranch to San Francisco
Robert named his ranch after his other passion -- Frisbee. Robert is an avid Frisbee player and a one-time professional. He now only gives demonstrations at the local schools.

Robert makes the 575-mile trip to San Francisco from early September through the end of May where you'll find him at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. He's at the Berkeley Farmers' Market year round and the Sunday San Rafael Market.

May 1998; updated November 2001.

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