Harvesting Frankincense

The fruits are gathered from the beginning of April of each year when temperatures start to rise. Heat helps bring out the liquid from the frankincense. This process requires an expert making incisions in the trees with a sharp instrument known as the Al Manqaf, and needs to be cut twice at two separate locations, with a time difference of about 14 days between the first and second cut. The fluid comes out first in the form of milk, which is not fit for use. The second stroke cuts the tree along the trunk and liquid collection starts two weeks after the second strike. The tree is struck for a third time to allow the high quality brown fluid to come out. This liquid is left either on the tree or on the ground. The first stroke is called “the signature“, the second and third are called “the palm“.

This profession requires extensive experience and most of those who work in the trade have inherited it from their fathers and forefathers. An error may result in a laceration in the tree, which causes it to stop production and may in some cases result in its atrophy. The harvest season may extend to October, and the production of a single tree is on averageten kilograms. Dhofar’s production of this crop is estimated to be seven thousand tons annually, and it is frequently found insuoq Al-Hafahin Salalah inthe Dhofar Governorate.

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