Split Canopy on Date Palms

Split Canopy on Date Palm. UF Laura Sanagorski

I received a call about these Date Palms.  When we see older fronds drop like this, it is concerning, because older frond drop is a classic indicator of Lethal Yellowing (LY).  Fortunately, this isn’t LY.  The drop is pretty uniform around the trunks of the palms, so we can rule out wind damage (which has been very prevalent in eastern Palm Beach County recently).  Since the fruit are still attached, we can rule out LY.  If we saw palms that looked like these, and the dropped fronds were turning brown, paired with a sudden drop of the fruit, it would possible indicate LY.

Split Canopy on Date Palm. UF Laura Sanagorski

This look is referred to as “split canopy” and tends to occur when the Date Palm is fruiting.

We don’t have a full explanation of this, and it doesn’t happen to all fruiting Date Palms, but it may have to do with the weight of the fruit.

You can learn more about lethal yellowing through Dr. Nigel A. Harrison and Dr. Monica Elliott’s publication: Lethal Yellowing (LY) of Palm.

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