California’s drought, with its hot dry conditions, may have been a bane to many fruit and vegetable producers, but it’s been a boon to the state’s date growers.

Harvest started about two weeks early, and Bakersfield-based Atlas Produce and Distributing Inc., has reported excellent quality.

"The California drought condition is a major concern for all of the agricultural community, but the hot and dry conditions this summer have been perfect for medjool dates,” Robert Dobrzanski, president, said in a news release.

Dates grow in clusters below the fronds of date palm trees. A few months before the harvest, workers cover the date bunches with mesh bags to prevent bird and insect damage.

When the fruit is ripe, workers cut the individual bunches.

All of the Atlas Produce’s dates, marketed under the Caramel Naturel brand, are grown in California’s Coachella Valley.

In addition to the medjool, Atlas also handles the deglet noor variety as well as date coconut rolls and date almond rolls.