As the modes of planting the tree, extracting the juice, and boiling down into goor differ but in trifling details throughout the date-tree tract, a description of the routine practised in the principal district, Jessore, will serve for the whole.
Planting.—The trees are always raise.d from seed. The fruit ripening in June-July, the seeds arc collected and sown shortly afterwards a few inches apart, in a moist spot near the cultivator's house. They itro weeded and watered occasionally during the following dry season, and are ready for planting out in the succeeding April-May, after the first showers of the season. The ground is well ploughed, and without any manure, the plants are placed each in a hole made with the hoe or kodaul. By the timo the rainy season closes, about the following October, they are strong young trees, the leaves 3-4 ft. high ; vacancies are then filled up. The roote are occasionally cleared of weeds ; and should the ground not be in yearly crop, a ploughing is sometimes given, as this loosens the earth around them and allows more scope for the roots. No other expense or trouble is incurred in their cultivation. The trees arrive at full growth at about their 7th year, but the native cultivator seldom allows them to reach beyond 5 years, before commencing to extract the juice ; should the young trees be forward, he even commences at 2 or 3 years old, though thia oarly exhaustion injures the after-productiveness of the plant, and probably shortens its life. Frequently the trees are tapped when the stem is less than 1 ft. high from the ground, a hole being dug in which to lodge the earthen pot that collects the juice. When not weakened by too early tapping, the average age the trees arrive at is about 30 years, being 25 years for sugar pro duction after allowing the first 5 for their undisturbed development. On the borders of the Sunderbunds, however, where the trees grow in strong marshy soils impregnated with salt, it is said that their excessive vegetation causes them to exhaust their strength sooner, and that their age in such places does not exceed 17-18 years.
The quantity of juice obtained before the trees have reached their 5th year is small and uncertain ; if allowed their full 5 years t'or growth, and first cut in their 6th year, the juice for that year is found to be yielded iu the proportion of about one-half the yield of a troe of full maturity; in tho 7th year, three-fourths of the full quantity ; and it is not until the 8th year that tho tree is found to give its full average yield of juice.
Cutting the Trees and Collecting the Juice.—The trees are first cut about the 20th October. This is done by stripping off the lower leaves of the branching head of the tree on one side, so as to leave a denuded space 1 ft. long; front this, a piece of the bark is removed in the shape of a triangle, each side of which is about 8 in. long, and having one angle pointed downwards. For the next 8-10 days, the cut part is left to harden, and what little sap exudes from it is allowed to run to waste, as not being sufficient for use. Collecting the juice, therefore, does not commence before
about the 1st November, a few days earlier or later, according to the season, the, first cold nights causing the enp to run freely. As soon as this is observed by the ganchea or date-tree labourer, he ascends the tree in the evening, and slices away a further portion, cutting deeper this time, so as to divide the sap-vessels, and from the centre of the triangle towards its sides, in such a way that along the latter a sort of channel is formed, which conducts the juice to the lower point of the triangle ; here in a notch is inserted one end of a piece of reed or grooved stick, about 6 in. loog, its other end hangiog over the earthen pot whic,h is suspended by a string close under it, and iuto which the juice trickles as it flows from the tree. The instrument used for cutting the trees is a daw or billhook, of peculiar shape.
A man having less than 80 trees lets them out, at a yearly rent for their nse, to a neighbour who has more, as they would not yield sufficient juice to compensate for the expense of the necessary arrangements. The number worked by any one ryot or familyvaries from 80 to 300-400 ; hut for facility of calculating the expense, a farm of 160 may be assumed, all full-grown, and capable of yielding the avemge quantity of juice. Whatever the number of trees, they are lotted off into 7 equal divisions. The trees of one division are cut every evening in succession, so that the whole a.re cut regularly once in 7 days. The first division may be taken as containing 23 trees, on which the work proceeds as follows. The gauchea having cut this number, and suspended the pots on the previous evening, obtains in the morning, as their 1st day's produce, an average of 10 seers (of 2 lb. 1 oz.) of juice from each tree ; on the 2nd morning, 4 seers; and on the 3rd, 2 seers; after this, the reed and pot are removed, and for the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th days, the trees are left to recover themselves, the little juice that still exudes being allowed to run to waste, as not worth the labour of collecting. On the evening of the 7th day, these 23 trees are again cut ; this is done by peeling off a further portion from the already open cutting, which again divides the sap-vessels, and the juice recommences flowing ; and the same process is repeated throughout the season. Thus the ryot by newly cutting a + division of his trees every evening, will have every morning to gather the juice from 3 divisions, yielding respectively 10, 4, and 2 seers of juice from each tree ; by this system, a uniform quantity of juice is daily procured, and the labour is equally distributed over the time given for it. The ryot having 160 trees would collect daily the juice of 68 or 69, yielding juic,e as follows :— m. s.