24 Karat Agricultural Gem – Pt1

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24 Karat Agricultural Gem – Pt1

Easy-to-grow tree, few agricultural requirements, fruits containing innumerable benefits for treating diabetes, persistent heartburn, and obesity… The carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua, originates from the Mediterranean region, and has become the basis for many natural medical treatments and food industrial processes.

In this series of articles, we address all aspects related to the cultivation of this tree, its benefits, and the process of making carob molasses.

A Tree Rooted in History

The carob tree has deep roots in history, as it is believed that John the Baptist ate carob pods during his long journey through the desert. Carob played a major role in various wars, as it was resorted to in times of famine and poverty because it is rich in nutrients and abundant. Apart from its symbolic value, this tree had a practical role that is still well known today. While the size and weight of the carob seed does not change, this feature was exploited in gold and diamond mines, where 24 carob seeds were approved to classify a 24-carat diamond. In Europe, the length of the carob seed was used to develop shoe sizes. Shoe size 37, for example, is the length of a 37 carob seed.

Botanical Description

Carob is an evergreen tree that belongs to the legume family. It lives naturally in the Mediterranean region, that is, around the Mediterranean Sea, where its fruits are used for many purposes, which we mention in the sequel to the article. The height of the tree is between 15 and 17 meters, while the leaves consist of a long petiole that bears 6 to 10 dark green leathery leaves, 2.5 to 6.25 cm long.
As for the female flowers, they are small red, while the male flowers are larger and emit an unpleasant odor. The tree blooms for the first time about 6 years after planting, and the flowering period extends from September to November. The pods are brown or dark red, oblong in shape, 10 to 20 cm long and 1 to 2.5 cm wide. These fruits contain a high percentage of fiber, and their growth is usually complete after 11 months of settling, as the number of seeds ranges between 10 and 15, depending on the variety.


Carob reproduces by seed, as the tree is vaccinated when it is one year old. As for planting, it takes place between November and February, with the need to keep a distance of 7 to 9 meters between the two trees.
The suitable climate for carob cultivation is Mediterranean, as mentioned above. When the carob tree is exposed to frost within temperatures of -2 and 4 to 4 degrees Celsius. This results in the loss of the crop and the death of the branches. Therefore, carob cultivation is concentrated on the coast below 600 meters above sea level, where we find that the optimum temperature for the growth and flowering of carob trees ranges between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.

Post Transplant Practices

After planting the tree, it is necessary to irrigate the trees, especially during the first year, while irrigation is recommended for several years after planting.
As for fertilization, many farmers believe that carob is a forest tree and therefore does not require any kind of fertilization. However, years of experience and expertise in carob cultivation reached the following conclusion: Adopting compound fertilizer 11/12/18 from Yara in winter at a rate of 2 to 4 kg per tree (depending on the age of the tree) gives remarkable results, especially in terms of the size and homogeneity of the fruits. In the spring, an increase of 1 kg of ammonia sulfate helps to raise the vegetative area of the tree.
It must be noted that the carob tree does not need much care after planting; Removing dead and tangled branches is considered sufficient pruning.

What are the most prominent diseases affecting carob trees? What are the most approved items in Lebanon? We answer all these and other questions in the second part of the Carob series.

Maryse Bou Zeid


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