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Banana Farming and Management Tips

Banana Farming Business

Banana Farming Business

Banana Farming and Management Tips

Banana is a fruit which is mainly cultivated which can either be eaten ripe (dessert) or cooked. The fruit is a good source of vitamins A, B6 & C and potassium when eaten ripe, while cooked one is rich in carbohydrates. You can also process Banana into flour, canned slices, jam, jelly, puree, vinegar, wine and beer. The popularity of the Banana crop makes it a good cash crop for smallholder farmers in different countries. Banana foliage and pseudo-stems are used as cattle feed during drought. The Banana leaves are also used as packing and roofing material to some ritual people. Growing Banana does not require much effort, but to achieve high yields requires skills, dedication, and proper planting methods.

Where can Bananas plant be grown ?

Banana can be grown anywhere favoring these conditions.

Banana needs

  1. Heat,
  2. Humid air,
  3. Plenty water,
  4. Light.
  • It dislikes wind.
  • It likes soils rich in organic matter.
  • It likes soils that drain quick

Some Common Banana Varieties

The following are the common Banana varieties grown

1. Giant Cavendish

Banana Gian Cavendish Variety

Banana Gian Cavendish Variety

This variety is characterized by tallness and resistant to fusarium wilt (Panama Disease). It is also susceptible to Black Sigatoka Disease and has a strong pseudo-stem. The plant requires propping

2. Chinese Dwarf

Banana Chinese Dwarf Variety

Banana Chinese Dwarf Variety

This variety is short variety and does not require propping. It give high performance in areas with altitude as high as 2,100 m. It is resistant to fusarium wilt (Panama Disease) and is susceptible to “Cigar-end Rot” and Black Sigatoka.

3. Grand Nain


Banana Grand Nain Variety

Banana Grand Nain Variety

This variety is a cultivar of Cavendish type and is tolerant to environmental stress. It also produces good quality bunches with fruits which are uniformly yellow in color. Its mature fruits have good shelf life and requires propping for optimal yields.

4. Williams Hybrid

Banana Williams Hybrid Variety

Banana Williams Hybrid Variety

This Banana variety produces large bunches with fruits which have excellent flavor, aroma, and taste when ripe. Its ripe fruits have short shelf life.

4. Valery

This variety is tall and has good taste. It has also strong pseudo-stem.

5. FHIA Hybrids: “FHIA-17, 18, 23, 25”

Banana FHIA Hybrid Variety

Banana FHIA Hybrid Variety

These varieties have been developed by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and are resistant to “Black Sigatoka”. They are used for cooking and dessert. They produce heavy bunches with an average weight of 50 kg and the plants require support to prevent lodging.


Agro Climate & Soil

1. Agro Climate

Most varieties of Bananas grow best with 12 hours of bright light and high humidity of 50% or higher. They need warm subtropical climate, adequate moisture and protection from wind. The ideal temperature range is around 26-30°C (78-86F) with relative humidity regime of 75-85%. Growth begins at 18ºC, reaches optimal growth at 27ºC and stop entirely when temperature reaches 38ºC. High velocity wind which exceeds 80km per hour damages the Banana leaf. Bananas are also prone to being blown over due to the weight of the stem of fruit. Thus, Propping should be done during the last few months of its life cycle before harvest.

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2. Soil

Bananas need rich, moisture and well-drained soil with 40% clay, 75% silt, 85% loam. They prefer a more acidic soil with pH between 6 to 7.5. Low pH soil makes Banana more susceptible to Panama disease which affect its true performance. Avoid soil that is sandy, salty, nutritionally deficient and ill-drained soil. If soil is not in the most favorable condition, improve it!

Light sandy soil can be improved by placing mulch around the Banana plants and this will improve water retention and prevent nutrients from percolating quickly into the soil. Nutritionally deficient soil can be improved by incorporating organic matter to the soil before you plant your Bananas and then mulch them thickly. This process should be repeated as often as possible for optimal results. Bananas do not tolerate waterlogging because its roots will rot. This however can be resolved by planting the Bananas in raised beds.

Planting

Banana Suckers Ready For Planting

Banana Suckers Ready For Planting

1.Banana planting material

The best way to start your Banana agribusiness is to start with tissue culture plantlets. Tissue culture plantlets are recommended for planting because suckers, in general, are infected with some soil-borne pathogen and nematodes which may lower Banana yields.

Research has shown that tissue culture plantlets are healthy, pest and disease free, uniform and shorter harvesting period. Banana suckers on the contrary are not uniform and have a rather longer-harvesting period thus management of the plantation can be somewhat wearisome.

2. Planting time

Tissue culture Bananas can be planted throughout the year.

3.Nutrients required by Bananas

Bananas requires nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium with a ratio of 3:1:6 and other micronutrients to ensure the plants grow vigorously and gives high yields.

4. Crop Geometry

•The most economical and efficient spacing is 1.82m x 1.52m with 3,630 plants per hectare (a wide spacing of 1.82m between rows is recommended in any Banana agribusiness. However, the mentioned spacing is only possible with fertigation. Bananas can be planted with higher density at 1.5m x 1.5 m but yields are poor due to competition for sunlight which lowers its fruiting. The recommended spacing is at 2.0m x 2.5m with 2,000 plants per hectare since that is the standard distance to minimize Sigatoka.


Cultural Practices

1. Land preparation practices

Before planting, deep soil cultivation by ploughing & harrowing is recommended and the field should be free of trees, bushes and especially perennial weeds. Banana planting hole measuring 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm is recommended although this may vary depending on water availability and type of variety. In dry & semi-arid areas, it is recommended to use holes measuring 90 cm x 90 cm x 90 cm. It should be noted that Bananas cannot withstand stagnant water hence soil should have good drainage.

2. Fertilising

A complete fertiliser with a ratio of 3:1:6 of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium is generally suitable for most Banana plantation for higher yields. The first application of fertilizer at the rate of 100 grams per plant can be made as soon as the Banana plant begins to grow. Subsequent application of fertilizer should be applied as frequent as possible i.e. once every week if possible. The best approach is to apply smaller quantity of fertilizer but more frequently and this with increase fruiting. For better taste and quality, try applying only organic fertilizers. It is advisable to water and fertilize at the same time to help Bananas grow faster. If water system is not available (i.e. fertigation or pipes), the best time for application of fertilizer is after rain.

2. Mulching

Mulch in Banana plantation is primarily used to modify the effects of the local climate. A wide variety of natural and synthetic materials are used. The most easily available and cheaper material would be saw dust. It is best applied when the Banana plants are still young to encourage faster growth. The benefit of using mulch is that it conserves soil moisture (blocking evaporation of water from the soil) and keeps soil cool as they block direct sunlight exposure and this is good for Banana plantation. It also slows down the growth of weeds as it blocks the weeds from receiving sunlight thus minimizing labor work. All the mulch should be kept at least 50 cm from the base of the plant as it generates heat when decomposing. This practice is known to reduce fungal diseases while improving soil texture and adding nutrients to the soil suitable for your business farming business. Generally, mulch is only required to be applied once as mature plantation is self mulching i.e. dead Banana leafs and trunks are removed and left behind as naturally mulch.

3. Weeding

Banana Orchards should be kept weed-free through either hoeing or mulching. Bananas are shallow-rooted, care should be taken during weeding to avoid root injury. In your Banana fielda well maintained heavy mulch cover will suppress weed growth, retain moisture & provide humus for a good soil structure. Inter-cropping. Use of herbicide such as Paraquat Dichloride so help to eliminate weeds in your Banana field.


Special Operations

The following practices would directly affect the productivity and quality of the Banana plants and make sure you do them.

i) Desuckering / Pruning

This is a process of removing unwanted Banana suckers from one stool so that at any moment a stool has only 3 suckers. The surplus suckers are dug out with corm, and can be used as planting material. In order to prevent sprouting in Banana plants: Insert a peg on the growing part. The process should start 2 months after planting and be repeated every 45 days till the plant flowers.

ii) Propagation

The alternative of pruning in Banana plantation is propagation of Bananas. Instead of destroying the suckers, suckers can be removed from the clump and replanting it in a newly cultivated land. Large Banana suckers called the “sword sucker” are the preferred planting material. When removing the Banana suckers, it must be cut into the mother plant enough to unearth some roots. Banana leaves are often removed in the process for easy transportation and re-planting. These Banana suckers must be re-planted within a day or two and should not be exposed to the sun. Otherwise the roots may dry up.

iii) Deflowering

Remove the “Bell” (the purple flower petals at the end of the bunch – also known as “Banana blossom” or “Banana heart“). This is generally practiced because this way, Banana plant will conserve its energy into growing bigger bunch and not longer stalk and this will result in more Banana yields.

iv) Pruning or trimming of leaves

Banana Pruning

Banana Pruning

This activity is useful in your Banana field since it ensures light penetration in the orchard and helps reduce certain leaf diseases and reduces injury caused to Banana by the dry leaves during windy periods. All dry/dead Banana leaves which hang down the sides of the pseudo-stem need to be removed at least twice a year (Each pseudo-stem should have 7 leaves at any one time).

v) Earthing up

In your Banana field soil level should be raised after 3 months of planting to keep soil loose. This will also help prevent Banana plants from falling due to severe wind.

vii) Propping

It is the process of supporting your Banana plants which have mature or immature bunches to prevent them from lodging/ falling over, which will decrease your Banana yields. A pole with a V-shape end is placed under the bunch to support it. When placing it, make sure you place it carefully to avoid fruit injury. The following are the major varieties which require propping are: Grand Nain”, Williams, Valery, Giant Cavendish, FHIA series etc.

Harvesting

Banana harvesting involves cutting the bunch from the pseudo- stem using a panga knife. Harvesting starts 9 – 18 months after planting. Under good management yields of 20 tons/acre can be achieved

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