Pesticides and Esrogim

One of the requirements for an esrog is that it must be edible. If the esrog contains so much pesticide that it would not be edible, the esrog would likely not be considered kosher.
Most of our esrogim come from California and our farmer, John Kirkpatrick has provided us with the following information:

 Lindcove Ranch practices intensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in an effort to minimize use of pesticides. We are in full compliance with the regulations of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), the most consumer protective statutes  and regulations imposed anywhere on the planet. As such, we can warrant and guarantee that if esrogim obtained from Lindcove Ranch are to be eaten or processed into products such as marmalades or candy, they can used with confidence that they completely safe and in full compliance with civil law and regulations of any jurisdiction. This is in addition to the halachic requirements that are supervised and certified by Rabbi A. Teichman.

In the U.S. of A. all pesticides must be registered and approved for their intended uses by the United States EPA and FDA in compliance with ”FIFRA”, the Federal Insecticide, Rodenticide and Fungicide Act. Information regarding FIFRA regulations can be found at this link:
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation provides for considerably more stringent regulation than is required by FIFRA. We conduct all of our agricultural operations, including use of pesticides, in compliance with the most stringent regulations in the world  It is my belief that fruit produced in this regulatory regime is the safest available anywhere. Qualified laboratory analysis of fruit harvested before and after pesticide treatments in our pardes have always returned reports that no detectable pesticide residues could be found. This, BTW is better than organic certification which allows for specified maximum residue of many pesticides. 
Established Federal and California pesticide residue tolerances contemplate all possible uses. Laboratory and human trial safety limits are stretched from what is considered to be safe by 10 to 100 orders of safety magnitude (or more) depending on the category of possible negative consequences. 
Schnapps made with peel of California fruit can be made with confidence that there is no threat to human and animal health or the environment. 
Whether this is true for offshore production, I am unable to say. Those growers and their governments will have to speak for themselves.  It is my understanding that some foreign kashrus supervisors are requiring certain management practices and certifying as to compliance.”

Grading and sizing of lulavim

Other than meeting certain shape and minimum size requirements, lulavim are not generally graded by length or girth.

The lulav is the unopened frond or “palm spear” that grows from the top of the palm tree. All palm trees (and also grasses) have at least one lulav. Each lulav leaf has two parts which will eventually open up and fan out to form the palm branch that can be used to provide a cooling breeze. As the tree grows, the lulavim open out and splay outwards, making room for fresh lulavim that are at the top of the tree as it grows upwards.

What is important is the middle leaf – called the “teyomes”.  Ideally this should not be split, but as long as the middle leaf is not split more than about 3″ it is perfectly kosher, even more than that they can be used in some cases. A middle leaf that is split less than 3″ can be glued together (e.g. with Elmer’s glue) to stop it splitting further, and it is perfectly kosher.

We mostly grade lulavim based on how closed or open the middle leaf is. Some lulavim are more slender than others. When they grow they can be six feet or longer. For practical purposes we need to be able to ship them both in bulk and also to individual customers.

We receive lulavim which are between about 36-42″ long. Sometimes we need to trim them from the bottom to be able to fit them into our shipping boxes. This will result in the outer most leaves falling away, but this is of no halachic relevance, since we are concerned with the middle leaf. The result of this is that you may receive a slender lulav, but hopefully one whose middle leaf is more closed.

Other than the above physical requirements a lulav must come from a palm tree that produces edible dates. There are many varieties of dates and lulavim from the “Deglet Noor” variety often have middle leaves that split easily. The Medjool date palm produces excellent lulavim, and those are the ones we supply most of the time. The “Deri” (Dayri) date palm produces spectacular lulavim whose middle leaves are closed and stay closed. We do supply these also, but they are expensive.

For a more comprehensive discussion of the kashrus of a lulav (as well as the other species) I recommend three books: