School Science Lessons
Please send comments to: J.Elfick@uq.edu.au
Table of contents
See websites: Bananas
1.1 Village bananas and cultivated bananas
1.2 Varieties of bananas
1.3 Banana language
3. Leaf growth
4. False stem
7. Inflorescence, (Flowers)
8. Choosing a site
9. Preparing ground
10. Planting material
12.0 Plant care
12.1 Bunch covering
12.2 Desuckering and debelling
12.4 Mulching and watering
9.159 Rotting bananas
12.6 Trashing, deleafing
13.0 Insect pests
13.1 Banana root nematode, Radopholus similis
13.2 Banana weevil borer, banana root borer, "banana beetle", Cosmopolites sordidus
13.3 Banana scab moth, Nacoleia octasema
14.1 Banana bunchy top virus, BBTV
14.2 Panama disease, (Fusarium wilt), Fusarium oxysporum
21. Panama Disease, The State of Queensland (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) 2010-2015.
14.3 Black sigatoka disease
14.4 Comparing bacterial wilt and fusarium wilt
15. Fruit bunch
17. Ripening and handling
18. Uses of bananas
20. Grow bananas at home
22.214.171.124 Calculate the profit for the Banana Project after one year
1.1 Village bananas and cultivated bananas
| See Diagram 51.1: Village banana plant and cultivated banana
| See diagram 51.1.1: Banana plants
Bananas can be grown on atolls but it needs special care to make them
The aim of this project is to show how to increase the yield of
bananas and grow bananas for profit.
You will need examples of village and
cultivated bananas or use the diagrams.
There are hundreds of different kinds
but in this it is important that you teach the difference between
traditional, (wild), bananas and cultivated bananas, Musa acuminata.
What are the different kinds of bananas used at home?
Are all bananas
What are the different types of village bananas?
What are the
different uses of village bananas?
There are two main kinds of bananas, traditional
bananas and cultivated bananas.
Traditional bananas grow wild and are easy
Cultivated bananas were introduced from other countries.
harder to grow but they produce more fruit.
Cultivated bananas may be quite
different from traditional or village bananas.
They may be genetically different.
They may have higher yield than village bananas if they are fertilized and
cared for properly.
Table 1. Differences between traditional and cultivated bananas
1. Traditional bananas
Many hundreds of varieties
Can grow on poor soils
Are easy to grow
Get less pests and diseases
Some have no fruit
Some have red juice
Some fruit contain seeds
Leaves stiff and grow upright
Smaller plant, not last a long time
Smaller fruit bunch, some upright
Leafy bracts over fruit red underneath
Few black marks on a false stem
Canal through the petiole closed
2. Cultivated bananas
Few varieties, (cultivars), e.g. Cavendish, Gros Michel, Lady Finger
Need good soils
Can be difficult to grow
Get more pests and diseases
Not so tasty
All have big fruit
None have red juice
No fruit contain seeds
Leaves hang down
Larger plant, lasts a long time
Larger fruit bunch, all hang down
Leaf bracts over fruit yellow underneath
Many black marks on a false stem
Canal through the petiole open
1.2 Varieties of bananas
Bananas may have originated in Malaysia but in 327 BC Alexander the Great
took some back Europe.
Arab people took them to Africa and Spanish or Portuguese
people took them to North America.
In Australia, about 95% of the bananas
are the "Cavendish" variety, named after the British Lord Cavendish who
grew them in Kew Gardens, London.
The red tip or eco-bananas is a variety
of Cavendish grown with a minimum of chemicals and the ends dipped in hot
The smaller, sweeter "Lady Finger" bananas represent 4% of the market.
A similar variety is "Goldfinger".
An interesting variety, "Ducasse", has
superior flavour to other varieties and keeps its shape during cooking.
the soft skin is speckled with a grey white mould and by the time the banana
is ripe the skin is black.
Plantains, cooking bananas, are varieties of the genus Musa.
1.3 Banana language
Debelling is cutting off the banana flower, called the bell.
A finger is a single banana fruit
A finger stalk is the stalk attaching the finger to the hand
A hand is a cluster of bananas from a single flower group at a
node forming a section of the bunch because bananas grow in layers around
A bunch is the whole flowering stem, (inflorescence), bearing
hands of several fingers of fruit.
So a bunch with nine layers of bananas
is called a nine hand bunch.
When marketing bananas, a bunch is called
See diagram 51.2: Leaf
You will need a banana leaf in the classroom, or take students outside
to see a banana plant.
Draw a whole banana leaf and include the following four parts:
1. The large flat leaf blade, the lamina, that has many small veins that
run close together.
2. The thick strong middle of the leaf, the midrib.
3. The strong leaf stalk, the petiole, that holds the leaf up to the sun.
4. The thick elongated part of the leaf stalk, the leaf sheath. The end
of the leaf sheath is the leaf base.
A leaf will stop it making food by photosynthesis if:
1. strong winds
blow the leaf off the plant,
2. the leaf is eaten by insects or other animals,
3. the leaf is killed by a disease,
4. a creeper or vine grows over a leaf
and stops the sun shining on it.
The leaf edges may tear or break in a strong wind.
This does not hurt
the leaf much.
When a leaf is old, it may have many breaks in it.
The banana leaf is designed to tear along the veins.
Three is some evidence
that photosynthesis by the leaf increases after mild tearing and the parts
of the leaf are flapping in the wind.
However, severely torn leaves may cause
desiccation of the plant.
3. Leaf growth
See diagram 51.3: Growth of banana plant
You will need a banana plant in the classroom, or take the students to
see a banana plant.
The banana plant needs 8 to 9 green leaves before it will make the flowers
that turn into the fruit.
New leaves are made as the older leaves die and
Note the number of leaves on a banana plant.
Record the length
and width of some big leaves.
The banana "tree" is really a collection of
The leaf stalks, petioles, of the leaves wrap around each other
to form a false stem, pseudostem.
The real stem and roots are underground.
The youngest leaf grows up through the middle of the plant.
At first, the
leaf is rolled up but later it opens and hangs down.
Later, a flowering stem,
inflorescence, grows up from the underground item.
The flowering stem grows
out the top in the middle of the plant, turns down and produces flowers and
After the flowering stem appears, no more leaves can grow.
underground stem buds grow to form new shoots, suckers. Suckers grow to form
the next "trees".
4. False stem, (pseudostem
See diagram 51.3: Leaf bases
You will need an old banana stem that has died or a stem from which the
bunch of fruit has been cut.
Use an axe or a bush knife to cut off a piece
of this stem about 30 cm long.
Spiders and other animals that
can bite you may be living in the false stem!
The "stem" is really a collection of leaf bases wrapped around each other,
so it is a " false stem", (pseudostem).
It is the "trunk" of the "tree".
Draw the cut end of a stem.
See the leaf bases wrapped around each other.
Take off the leaf sheaths or leaf bases one by one until you can see there
is no stem inside.
You may see a small hard piece of the flower stalk in
See diagram 51.5: Banana corm, (VS, vertical
You will need a corm of an old banana plant
The true stem of the banana plant is an underground stem, a rhizome.
The thick part is the corm.
The corm makes shoots that grow into branches
or other corms.
New plants come from these shoots.
The branches and suckers
grow very close together to form a clump, a rootstock with many shoots.
It is difficult to see the shape of the corm so cut off a piece of corm
by putting a spade or a bush knife,
between a strong sucker and the side of
the main plant.
Wash it and cut off some roots.
Just before the class, you will need to cut off a piece of corm with
The roots of the banana plant are shallow, not deep in the soil.
plant can be easily blown over by a strong wind.
Do not dig deeply close
to the plant because you may cut the shallow roots.
Cutting off weeds with
a bush knife is better than trying to dig them out deeply and damaging
Roots near the surface of the soil may become dry if there is
So use as mulch dead leaves and dead grass on top of soil to keep
the surface soil moist.
Dig around the growing corm to find some shallow
7. Inflorescence, (flowers)
| See diagram 51.7.1: Inflorescence
See diagram 51.7.2: Flowers, male
See diagram 51.7.3: Flowers and fruit
| See diagram 51.7.4: Banana berry
You will need a banana plant with fruit on it.
If there is no fruit ready to see, teach this later when the fruit bunch is growing up.
The axis of the flowering stem, inflorescence, is the stalk.
are covered by purple bracts, small leaves or leaf scales that lift then
shed as the flower grows.
The flowering stem before the bracts have lifted
is the "bud".
Individual flowers appear and develop from bisexual flowers
to male or female flowers by losing their male or female organs.
flowers develop into the clusters of seedless fruits without need of pollination.
The male flower is at the end of the stalk, with a thin leaf like covering,
is the "bell", ("flower", "navel").
The female flowers further up the stalk
become banana fruit.
When the fruit is very small, it is angular and does
not have much stored food inside.
The usual stage for cutting for transporting
some distance to market or for export is green fruit with the
angles still just showing.
When the angles have disappeared, the fruit
is at the " round full bunch" stage and should be eaten soon.
8. Choosing a site
Discuss the site for a banana project with the school principal, local
community and a field officer of the Ministry of Agriculture.
first take the students to several unsuitable places then take them to see
the place you have already chosen for planting the bananas.
1. The banana is a tropical plant and benefits from moderate heat, adequate
moisture and protection from wind.
Bananas flourish best when they receive
full sunlight for most of the day.
A warm sheltered spot with a north to
easterly aspect protected from cold westerly and southerly winds should
The minimum temperature for growth is 14oC.
Frosts will kill
the leaves and sometimes plants.
Periods of cold weather with temperatures
below 13oC will cause chilling injury to fruit.
The fruit then develop
a dull appearance.
The leaves of plants affected by cold conditions, (<
10oC to 12oC), can turn yellow and bunch size is reduced.
2. The place you choose for the banana project should have the following
1. Be near the school, on flat land or land sloping towards
2. Water table is not too deep because you will plant about 1
metre above the water table,
3. Sunny all day, not shaded by big trees,
Sheltered from strong winds, e.g. sheltered but not shaded by buildings or
5. Annual rainfall more than 1200 mm during 12 months,
6. Deep soil
with plenty of plant nutrients, not sandy soils or clay soil,
7. Soil pH
between 5 and 6.
3. Choose land that has not grown bananas for two years to avoid by pests
and diseases left behind by the old banana plants.
Do not use land that
has wild bananas growing on it or where there are dead banana plants.
4. Clear the bush two months before planting but leave some trees on the
windy side as a windbreak, or plant Leucaena.
On the flat land the
bush should be burnt but this may cause soil erosion from rain on sloping
land so leave some plant cover there.
Plant a cover crop to protect the soil
and shade any grass and weeds, e.g. cowpea, pigeon pea, velvet bean, Crotalaria,
Plant at least 4 m apart, but planting distances depends on
the fertility of the soil and on the size of the variety.
Ask the Ministry
of Agriculture for advice on planting distance.
Plants should be grown closer
on fertilized or richer soils and further apart on unfertilized or poorer
5. In some places you are not allowed to plant bananas near houses or
dormitories because some people say they attract mosquitoes.
On atolls, the side of an old pit for swamp taro, (Cyrtosperma),
is a good place or you can dig a special planting hole in another place.
You may find a suitable place sheltered by coconuts, or by a house, or by
bushes on the lagoon side of an atoll.
The exposed windy side of an atoll
near the ocean is not a good place.
6. Banana plants grow best in well drained, deep soil that has good moisture
retention and is rich in plant foods and organic matter.
Light sandy soils
require considerable mulching to improve water retention, and nutrients are
quickly leached from this type of soil.
Although bananas like ample water,
they will not tolerate waterlogging.
Roots start to die after an hour in
Examples of planting distances
Variety and distance apart on the square Dwarf Cavendish 2 m Giant Cavendish,
Mons Mari, Williams 3 m Lady Finger 4 m.
9. Preparing ground
See diagram 51.9: Make planting holes
You will need digging tools, bush knives, compost, fine black soil, dead
leaves, coconut husks.
Get advice from the Ministry of Agriculture about
using chemical herbicides for preparing ground, e.g. glyphosate weedicide.
Clear the land around the planting places, cutting down weeds and bushes.
The ground should become "clean weeded" no weeds at all.
Dig the holes about
3 - 5 m apart and 60 cm or 2 spade blades deep and wide, or 300 mm square
and 250 mm deep.
Fill the bottom of the planting hole with coconut husks and
dead leaves and some fine sand.
They must push the sand down into the spaces
between the husks so the soil is quite firm.
Fill with rotten compost and
legume cover crops such as cowpea or Crotalaria.
If you leave the holes open,
make sure that people do not fall into them.
On top of this put a small heap
of compost mixed with fine black soil.
The planting material will be planted
into this soil and compost mixture.
Add some pig manure or sprinkle a matchbox
full of mixed fertilizer.
10. Planting material
See diagram 51.10: Planting material
You will need a large plant to show how to cut off the different kinds
of planting material.
Try to obtain planting material from agricultural
The planting material must be clean.
It should not have any holes
or spots on it due to insects or disease.
The different kinds of planting material, sets:
1. Pieces of corm, ("bits"), each have a bud, ("eye").
A bit is a piece
of the rhizome or short underground stem of the plant trimmed to a single
mature bud or eye.
To obtain bits for planting, select a well grown healthy
plant that is at least 6 months old and has not bunched.
Remove the plant
roots from the rhizome, split the rhizome and attached pseudostem, (plant
in sections in such a way that each piece has a prominent centrally
Bits must be planted in the soil the same way up as it was when
Bits grow slowly.
2. Get a whole banana plant and identify the different kinds of suckers.
Cut suckers away from the mother plant by pushing a spade or knife down
between the sucker and the main stem.
A sucker is an offshoot from the parent
The best suckers are about 45 to 60 cm tall, or up to 1 metre high
and at least 15 cm across, and have narrow "sword" leaves.
with spindly stems and broad, flattened leaves lack vigour and should not
be used for planting.
Suckers with broad leaves, "water shoots", are useless
for planting and should be removed and burnt.
If small suckers, "peepers",
must be used for planting material, they must include a piece of corm at
3. To transplant larger suckers, cut off all but six of the large green leaves.
4. For trimming the suckers, use a large with a sharp knife to remove
the roots so that you can see the white corm.
Use a small knife to cut out
any red brown spots or tunnels caused by pests.
Work quickly because the
cut corm will darken in the air so you cannot see the spots.
5. Store the planting material in a shady, dry place, e.g. under a house.
Leave the suckers there for four days until the cut surface of the corms
have healed over.
If the sucker is planted soon after it is cut off, the
corm may rot and die.
6. To avoid pests and disease, use tissue-cultured plantlets from accredited
nurseries that meet strict pest free and disease hygiene standards.
7. Draw the different kinds of planting material.
See diagram 51.9: Planting
1. In southern Queensland, the best time to plant is from September to
mid December when rain is more common.
Bananas are usually planted at the
beginning of the wet season but can be planted all year round.
2. The bunch of fruit will be ready for harvest in about 12 months.
first crop after planting is the "plant crop".
Later crops from the suckers
are the "ratoon crops".
3. When planting, dig a hole about 300 mm square and 250 mm deep.
some well composted poultry manure and loose soil in the hole,
and then insert
the planting piece so that the junction of the corm and pseudostem of the
or bit is about 150 mm below the soil level.
On sloping sites, the
eye should be placed on the uphill side.
The hole should then be filled
with soil and tramped down firmly.
4. Make a hole in the heap of good soil and compost in the middle of the
Hold the top of the sucker when you have put it in the hole.
bottom of the sucker should be 12 cm below the soil surface.
Fill in the
soil around the sucker.
Put more soil around the stem.
Put dead leaves on
top of the soil all around the sucker.
Make sure there is a hole at the top
of the planting place so that rain and water will run down to the sucker.
Tread on the soil around the sucker to make the soil firm.
Water the soil
around the sucker.
However, water should be applied sparingly after planting until the plants
begin to grow.
If too much water is applied during this period the planting
piece may rot.
Plants are usually spaced 5 m apart.
5. Plant one sucker first as demonstration then students plant the other
6. Avoiding planting in hot, wet weather to avoid rotting in the planting
7. During dry weather plant small suckers or bits in bags or pots and water
them every few days for the first two weeks until the root systems are established.
These potted plants will be stronger and will establish more quickly when
they are planted out in the banana garden.
8. Before planting, the land must be well prepared to ensure food soil
contact well and have good drainage as from deep ripping.
9. If suckers and bits are planted in moist soil in the days after good
rain, no more water is needed until the shoots emerge.
However, in dry areas
apply 25 - 50 mm of irrigation soon after planting.
10. Larger planting pieces give better strikes, however the larger pieces
have more than one "eye" so the emerging extra shoots must later be cut
11. Leave cut surfaces to air dry for 1-2 days in the shade and form
a seal, to avoid cut surfaces on suckers and bits being infected by soil
organisms and rot.
Keep soil away from the cut surfaces.
12. Plant suckers at 15 cm of soil depth to ensure adequate soil moisture
until shoots emerge.
After covering suckers or bits, firm down the soil
with the foot, to improve contact between soil and the planting material.
Divide the base of banana plants into "bits" for propagating new banana plants,
with each "bit" having an eye from which the shoot emerges.
use suckers taken from the side of the clump for establishing new plants.
13. More tips for striking bananas from "bits" and "suckers"
13.1. Avoid planting in hot, wet conditions, as these conditions promote rotting
in the planting material.
The drier months of the early spring are the best.
13.2. Plant bananas at other times of the year by potting them.
suckers or bits in bags or pots.
Water them every 1-3 days for the first
two weeks until the root system is well established.
The potted plants are
stronger and establish more quickly after planting.
13.3. Prepare land with good drainage.
Deep ripping before planting improves
the drainage of the soil.
Work the soil needs only until it is fine enough
to get good contact with most of the planting material.
13.4. Suckers and bits have the best chance of establishment if planted in moist
soil a few days after rain, or apply 25 - 50 mm of irrigation immediately
No further water should be required until the shoots have
13.5. Larger planting pieces give better strikes.
The larger the sucker or
bit, the more reliable the emergence of shoots.
However, larger pieces usually
have more than one "eye" so the extra shoots which emerge need to be thinned
13.6. Allow cut surfaces to air-dry for 1-2 days, but not in the sun because
they could dry out too much.
The cut surfaces on suckers and bits can allow
infection by soil organisms, causing rotting.
Drying them out a little allows
the cut surface to form a "shellac-like" seal, which protects the planting
piece against rot-causing organisms.
Keep dirt away from the cut surfaces
to reduce the risk of infection.
13.7. Plant suckers and bits to about 15cm of soil depth, deep enough to ensure
adequate soil moisture until shoots emerge.
After covering suckers or bits,
the soil should be firmed down with the foot, to improve contact between
soil and the planting material.
13.8 Plant tissue culture bananas up to their "neck" in the ground.
is just below where the leaves start to branch out.
This planting method
reduces any problems with plant stability when they started suckering.
13.9 Soil is still hot from the compost-making may kill initial Lady Finger plants.
12.0 Plant care
See diagram 51.3: Generations 1 to 3
Encourage students to visit the banana project each day and note any
Get advice from the Ministry of Agriculture about using chemical
herbicides for weeding, e.g. glyphosate weedicide.
Take the students to see some growing bananas.
Show them different ways
to care for bananas and ask them why they should be done.
In some places
it is not the custom of the people to do all these things.
The people may
feel that the plants can look after themselves.
However, commercial banana
growers say that in the first three to four months, bananas need lots of
care, soil moisture and fertilizer for the best growth and fruit production.
This will increase the weight of the first bunch and how many "hands"
the banana will have.
12.1 Bunch covering
Bunch covers, banana bags, are made of blue plastic.
They let the fruit ripen evenly
and protect the fruit from insects, flying foxes, tree rats and birds.
a hole in the bottom to let the water out.
Place the blue plastic bunch cover
around the bunch of fruit when the last hand is visible.
Bunch covers help
to increase the weight and improve the quality of the fruit by avoiding
Also, the bunch cover may hold in ethylene close to the fruit
to accelerate fruit ripening.
Bunch covers protect the fruit from bird,
wind and sun damage, improve its quality and increase the yield.
they can encourage other pests such as rats, mealy bugs and scale to create nests within the bunch.
The other problem with the commercial covers is that you cannot see through them.
| See diagram 51.13.1: A stool of bananas
| See diagram 51.13.2: Different types of suckers
| See diagram 126.96.36.199: Cycles of suckers
The best way to teach the importance of this procedure is to take students
to see stands of bananas that have been de-suckered and stands that have
not been de-suckered.
Alternatively you could set up a trial where you divide
your banana project into two and de-sucker only half the bananas to show
the difference in yield.
If the banana plant is just left alone, it will soon be surrounded by
These suckers will compete with the mother plant for water
and plant food and so the fruit formed by the mother plant will be very small.
All the useless suckers should be cut out before they get too big.
do this, you will have a "stool" or group of bananas that never has more
than four plants in it:
1. One large plant one bearing fruit,
2. One smaller plant but the next
to bear fruit,
3. One medium-sized sucker,
and 4. One small sucker.
5. To make sure that have only one or two strong suckers for the next generation,
allow only one new sucker to grow every three months.
Two strong sword suckers
should be selected to bear fruit for the next crop.
One of these can be
allowed to grow for the new crop, ("follower crop").
The other can be cut
out for planting in another project.
The other suckers should be cut out
after they are more than 30 cm tall.
6. Use a sharp knife to cut the unwanted suckers off at ground level, scrape
out the remains of the sucker and pour in a teaspoon of kerosene.
be done when the suckers are very small.
Cutting the tops of the suckers
is useless because they will just grow again.
The whole sucker and its bit
of corm must be cut away from the mother plant.
De-suckering must be done
Some village people refuse to de-sucker their bananas because
they may not bother about it or they believe that they should not like to
kill things if there is no need to do so.
How would you explain to villagers
about the need for de-suckering? You could say that having lots of suckers
is like having too many chickens feeding from one small tin.
7. As the parent plant grows, it will produce several suckers around its base.
It is important to allow only one of these followers to remain, but two suckers
may be left on each parent if the planting is very vigorous.
After the desired
follower has been selected, all other sucker growth arising from the parent
plant should be removed as soon as possible after it appears.
8. The easiest way to permanently remove unwanted suckers is to cut them
off at ground level with a sharp knife.
A small hollow should then be gouged
in the centre of the cut surface with the point of the knife and a teaspoon
of kerosene should be poured into the cavity.
This kills the sucker.
follower should be selected when the parent is about three quarters grown
in the spring or early summer.
9. Cut off the flower bell 100 mm below the last hand to increase fruit size.
Do this once all the banana hands have set fruit.
Leave only the two strongest
If only one sucker with one banana bunch on the mother tree gives a large
However, if all the suckers are left, the smaller bunches are easier
You will need fertilizers or coconut husks for mulch.
Ask the Ministry
of Agriculture for advice on fertilizing bananas because suitable application
of fertilizers depends on climate, variety and soil type.
1. Bananas are "heavy feeders".
They need a lot of potassium, K.
a good size of bunch fertilize early and often.
During the first third of
the growth cycle, the size of the bunch is already determined based on
the amount of fertilizer, water and heat of the soil.
Bananas need heavy
applications of fertilizer near the surface of the soil because of its shallow
2. For high yield, quick growth during the first 3 months to get the largest
possible leaf area is necessary.
However, top dressing with fertilizer after
6 months is not desirable.
Each plant needs about 2 kg of mixed fertilizer each year, but this must
be put on a little at a time, not all at once.
The fertilizer must not be put too close to the plant.
It should be spread
out evenly in a circle 1 metre wide around the stem of the plant.
0.25 kg of mixed fertilizer on the ground around each banana plant.
is no need to dig it in, just sprinkle it over the leaf mulch.
If you do
not have any fertilizer, put many coconut husks on the soil around each
Put the husks with the cup upwards.
Husks contain some potash plant
food and the rain will wash this wash this into the soil.
Put some pig manure
around the plants if there is no fertilizer, but the NPK fertilizer is best
Pull out any weeds that are growing near the plants.
3. On sloping sites, apply the fertilizer to the up hill side only.
4. Different fertilizing methods
In some places, farmers feed the bananas NPK 6-2-12 each week and feed
magnesium every two months.
Others use a 5-5-5 all purpose organic fertilizer
mixture with additional sources of potassium.
A complete fertilizer with an analysis of approximately 10% nitrogen,
2% phosphorus and 22% potassium, that is, a 10:2:22 NPK mixture, is quite
suitable for use on most of the soils bananas can be grown in.
5. As soon as
the sucker begins to grow, or the shoot from the bit appears above ground
level, the first application of fertilizer at the rate of 200 g per plant
can be made.
Subsequent dressings of the same fertilizer at twice the rate
are applied every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season.
A similar fertilizing
program should be followed in subsequent years over the period of September
Applying a dressing of dolomite at 200 g per square metre every
year is beneficial to the plants.
This material should also be spread evenly
over the soil.
6. After the first crop is harvested, it is recommended that you apply,
per banana plant per year, a total of 800 g of agricultural lime, 240 g of
urea, 30 g of superphosphate, 600 g of potassium sulfate.
For better results, apply a quarter of the recommended application four
times between September and April.
Alternatively, apply organic fertilizers.
12.4 Mulching and watering
Mulching retains moisture, cuts down on weed growth, and helps the plant
absorb the fertilizer better.
Make mulch by chopping the older banana leaves,
banana stalks and plants harvested and cut down.
The composted banana leaves
and plants will add potassium to the soil.
Use discarded parts of banana
plants as long as they do not have pests or diseases attached to them.
use well-rotted manure, straw, lawn clippings.
However, the mulch should
be kept at least 50 cm from the base of the plant.
This practice should deter
the banana weevil borer from attacking the plants and possibly reduce the
incidence of fungal diseases.
Give the plants water especially when they are young and when there is
Propping is to place a prop under the stalk of a hand of fruit because
sometimes the bunch is too heavy for the plant.
Place the prop after the
last hand of fruit has formed.
Props can be made from two poles crossed about
50 cm from each end to form an X shape and bound together with wire where
Then place the shorter upper side of the X under the banana stalk
to allow the bunch to hang down so that the stalk is not squeezed and conduction
of liquids occurs normally through it.
12.6 Trashing and debelling
Trashing is the cutting down of all dead leaves because they may have
pests and diseases living in them.
Cut them down with a bush knife and burn
Cut with an upward stroke of the bush knife.
Removing diseased leaves of bananas while they were still green reduces the
spore load and improves air flows that are both good for leaf disease control.
This method also reduces the incidence of other pests.
It is extremely important that dead and diseased leaves are cut from
the plant regularly.
This practice will reduce the incidence of leaf diseases,
lower the fire risk,
and help to keep the plants tidy, but care should be
taken to remove only leaves that are diseased or completely dead.
Debelling is to cut off the banana flower, the "bell", when the last
row of bananas has formed because the flower continues to use some nutrients
and the bell makes the bunch much too heavy and may attract birds.
100 cm from the last hand when the last hand has set.
You can eat the infertile
flowers inside the flower petals.
Weeds compete for water, nutrients and light, and may allow pests and diseases
to be near the bananas and attack them.
During the first year of growth,
chip away weeds and grass between the plants with a hoe.
The ground in the
banana project should be weed free but if the manual weeding is done carelessly
with a hoe the shallow roots of the bananas will be damaged.
Plant a cover
crop to control weeds.
You can also use clean mulch to control weeds, but
make sure that there are no insect pests in it.
See diagram 51.15: Insect pests of banana
Ask the agriculture field officer about pests and diseases of bananas
in your area and show the agricultural officer any infected plants from your
Look for signs of pests and diseases in the school banana
project and in other banana projects.
Insect pests of banana may include
Banana aphid, Banana flower thrips, Banana fruit caterpillar, Banana rust
thrips, Banana scab moth,
Banana weevil borer, Banana silvering thrips, Banana spotting and fruit
spotting bugs, Cluster caterpillar, Fruit piercing moths,
Queensland fruit fly, Spider mite, Two spotted mite, Spiralling white
fly, Sugarcane bud moth.
13.1 Banana root nematode, Radopholus similis
Banana root nematode, burrowing
nematode, worm or eel worm, Radopholus similis
This nematode worm lives in most banana growing regions.
The tiny worms
make red brown tunnels in the banana roots and corm.
A fungus, Fusarium
oxysporum, infects the tunnels causing root rot or blackhead disease.
The roots rot and weaken the plant that may topple over in strong wind after
the heavy fruit bunches have formed.
For control of Banana Root Nematode
1. Select clean land and keep land clean of weeds, dead leaves and trash.
The ideal is to use ground that has not grown bananas, Sudan grass or stylo
for at least three years.
Nematodes are spread by water and the damp dirt
sticking to farm implements.
Select clean suckers for planting material.
2. Plant in land that has a well grown cover crop, e.g. cowpea, pigeon
pea, velvet bean, lablab, Crotalaria, Pueraria, Calopogonium,
Rhodes grass, (Chloris gayana).
3. Do not plant bananas near crops that may have nematodes in their roots,
e.g. corn, (maize,) sugar cane, Siratro, green panic grass, sorghum
and many varieties of legumes.
4. To prepare planting material, cut off all roots, soil and traces of
discoloured tissue in the corm, discard any corms with borer tunnelling
activity, remove the tissue where outside leaves emerge from the corm.
dip this pared material in 53oC to 55oC
hot water for 20 minutes, dry in the sun, then plant straight away.
not easy to judge how long to keep the planting material in the hot water
to kill any nematodes but not cook the corm.
Use 0.7 to 0.9 kg bits with
backward eyes because bits with advanced eyes are difficult to pare properly
and may not survive heat treatment.
Treat planting material with a chemical
that kills nematodes, nematicide, e.g. DBCP and treat infected soil with
13.2 Banana weevil borer, banana
root borer, "banana beetle", Cosmopolites sordidus
Banana weevil borer can be the most serious pest of bananas.
are about 10-12 mm long, with a long weevil snout, and are brown then black
The soft, white, legless larvae have a curved body, are swollen
in the middle and a hard brown head.
The structure of the future weevil can
be seen through the white skin of the pupae, the same size as the larvae.
They seldom fly, move slowly and pretend to be dead when disturbed.
natural spread is very slow and their dispersal is usually caused by the
use of infested suckers and bits for planting.
. They live in rotting false
stems lying on the ground.
At night they burrow into the corm above ground
and lay white eggs, which hatch out larvae.
The white larva bores many round
tunnels in the corm that let in fungi that can cause the whole corm to rot
and the plant dies.
An average life cycle is completed in 12 weeks in north
Queensland but the adult weevils live a long time.
For control of Banana weevil borer: 1. Select clean land and keep land
clean of weeds, dead leaves and trash. 2. Select clean suckers for planting
material. 3. Make weevil traps with cut pieces of corm placed cut side down
on a small stone. Weevils will live under the piece of corm.
can then be collected every few days and killed.
When replanting into old banana land, all banana residues must be destroyed
and the land left to fallow for at least six months after all residues have
rotted down to prevent carry over of adults.
Ensure good plantation hygiene
by removing all trash from the area around plants and suckers by raking all
leaves into the inter row.
Cut up all fallen and harvested plant pseudostems
to increase the rate of breakdown and destroy breeding sites.
is possible if supervised by an officer of the Department of Primary Industry.
13.3 Banana scab moth, Nacoleia
The moth is small, (25 mm wingspan), tan to light brown with small black
spots on the wings.
The flattened eggs are laid in clusters ranging from
a few to 30 eggs.
The eggs resemble shiny overlapping fish scales.
to orange larvae grow to about 25 mm before pupating.
Eggs are laid on or
near to an emerging bunch and hatch after about four days.
The larvae feed
on young female flowers and young fruit leaving a scab.
As the bracts and
hands of bananas lift from the bunch stalk the larvae move to the next closed
The life cycle egg to egg is completed in 28 days.
Adults live for
only 4-5 days.
They hide in trash during the day and mate and lay eggs in
the early evening.
Pandanus and heliconia are known alternate hosts so they
should not grow near the bananas.
The scars caused by the larval feeding
form a black callous so people do not like to buy or eat the fruit.
by clearing away any dead plant material around the plant base.
moth has many natural enemies, e.g. spiders, so do not use chemicals that
can kill these natural predators.
See diagram 51.16: Diseases of banana
Diseases of bananas may include Banana bunchy top, Panama disease (Fusarium
wilt), Black sigatoka (leaf spot), Banana bract mosaic disease, Banana leaf
spot diseases, Banana freckle, Anthracnose, Choke throat, Rhizome soft rot.
Ask the agriculture field officer about pests and diseases of bananas
in your area and show the agricultural officer any infected plants from your
banana project. The usual advice from an agricultural field officer is buy
only clean planting material of approved varieties, report any unusual disease
symptoms, keep leaf disease under control and observe the quarantine requirements
of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Quarantine regulations vary depending on where you live and the type
of banana plant movement.
Look for signs of pests and diseases in the school banana project and in
other banana projects.
Most diseases are caused by fungi that can live in
the air as tiny spores, or be carried on diseased leaves.
They can usually
infect the plant in the rainy season when the spores germinate and the fungus
can then grow into the leaf through the stomates.
Another pathway of infection
occurs when fungi and bacteria enter holes in the leaves, stem, corn and
roots made by insects, nematode worms or other animals.
Methods for control of diseases include: 1. Select clean land with no
wild bananas. 2. Keep land clean of weeds, dead leaves and trash. 3. Select
clean suckers for planting material. 4. Plant in land that has a well grown
cover crop. 5. Keeping the project clean of weeds, dead leaves on the ground,
dead leaves hanging down from the plants. 6. Control rats and flying foxes.
6. Use your own planting material if you know that your bananas are free
of pests and diseases.
Planting material from other places may contain pests
14.1 Banana bunchy top virus, BBTV
Bunchy top disease can cause significant loss of production.
bunchy top virus, (BBTV), occurs world wide and causes a characteristic
"bunched" appearance of newly emerging leaves, reduced plant growth and dot
and dash flecks along leaf veins and underside of leaves.
may be more upright with pale yellow margins.
Infected plants do not produce
BBTV is spread in infected planting material, including suckers or
bits, or by the banana aphid, (Pentalonia nigronervosa).
cannot be cured and infected plants must be destroyed.
Infected plants and
all trash must be burned.
14.2 Panama disease, (Fusarium
Panama disease, (fusarium wilt), is caused by the soil fungus Fusarium
oxysporum, which spreads with soil and water movement, and also with
infected planting material.
. The first symptoms are yellowing and dying of
the leaf edges, often mistaken for effects of water stress.
The leaves later
collapse until the plant has the appearance of a stump with a skirt of dead
or dying leaves.
Internally, the water conducting tissue is discoloured.
fungus enters through the roots especially if damaged by nematodes.
cannot take up water and the leaves wilt.
The cut stem has a fishy smell.
There is no sanitary control or chemical control available, but the "Cavendish"
clones are highly resistant to this wilt.
Effects range from reduced yields
to death of the plants.
The soil remains infested indefinitely so that only
resistant varieties can be grown on that site in the future.
There are four
races of the fungus.
Race 1 attacks Lady finger, Sugar and Ducasse bananas
but not Cavendish bananas.
Race 2 attacks Bluggoe and Blue Java bananas but
not other banana varieties.
Race 3 attacks only Heliconia and is not a problem
Race 4 attacks nearly all varieties of bananas, including the
main commercial Cavendish variety.
There is no treatment for Panama Disease.
The only way is to grow a resistant
variety of banana, e.g. in the West Indies in the past they flood the infected
land with sea water for several years.
When Lady Fingers are replanted, it
takes a few years but the disease eventually shows up again.
some resistance to PD and is suitable for backyards.
Panama is a species
of Fusarium that is specific to bananas while other species infect other
Bacterial wilt, moko disease, is transmitted above the ground by insects
or infected knives is similar to Panama disease except that it shows yellow
lamina near the petiole.
It can be controlled by burning diseases plants
and disinfecting knives with formalin.
14.3 Black sigatoka disease
Black sigatoka, (leaf spot, black leaf streak), disease, is caused by
It occurs in most banana growing regions.
They cause the bananas to produce less fruit by destroying the leaves.
Sigatoka disease starts as yellow steaks or 1 mm red brown flecks on the
lower leaf surface,
that increase in size to form dark brown linear or elliptical
streaks, 4-12 mm long, parallel to the leaf veins and visible on both leaf
The streaks expand becoming elliptical spots often with a distinctive
As the lesions mature further, they become sunken and the centre
In susceptible cultivars, high levels of disease can cause large
areas of the leaf surface to die.
The disease can be spread by the movement
of infected plant material, fungal spores produced on leaf lesions,
dead leaf material on the plant, in trash and by spores dispersed by the
wind or by water splash.
The unfurling and youngest fully expanded leaves
on large plants and suckers are the most susceptible to infection.
leaves mature, they become resistant to infection.
Severely infected leaves
can die, significantly reducing fruit yield, and causing mixed and premature
ripening of bunches.
The disease spreads rapidly in hot, wet and windy weather
if the banana project is not clean weeded and useless suckers not removed.
Badly infected leaves should be removed and burnt.
Fungicide spraying and
use of fogging with mineral oils will help to prevent this disease.
Researchers at the Biotechnology Research Centre, (CIBE), Ecuador, have
isolated the genes in the naturally resistant banana variety Musa Calcutta-4,
to develop a protocol for the genetic transformation of banana cultivars
Williams and Oritoas well as plantain cultivars Barraganete and Dominico
14.4 Comparing bacterial wilt
and fusarium wilt
Comparing banana bacterial wilt caused by Xanthomonas campestris
and fusarium wilt, caused by Fusarium oxysporum, by Richard Davis,
Bugtok, (Tibagnol), is caused by a bacterium Pseudomonas solanacearum,
carried by rasping, piercing and sucking insects.
Moko disease, is caused by Ralstonia solanacearum, a proteobacteria,
is soil borne and causes bacterial wilt.
Blood disease is similar to Moko disease, the cause is not certain
Panama disease is caused by the soil borne fungus, Fusarium oxysporum
formerpecialis (f.sp), cubense, (FOC), which infects susceptible bananas
through the roots causing a lethal vascular wilt.
1. Leaf symptoms
Blood disease and Moko disease: Leaves show a transient yellowing.
and die and hang down.
Eventually, a "skirt" of dead leaves remains around
Xanthomonas wilt: Young leaves become yellow and die.
Compared to fusarium wilt: Wilt development is generally slower, so many
leaves remain upright and rigid for much longer before they eventually die.
They become a characteristic bright yellow, which is easy to see from a distance.
2. Presence of a bunch
Blood disease, Moko, Bugtok: As infection through the floral raceme is
common, a bunch of fruit is often seen in diseased plants.
Compared to fusarium wilt: Infections with most stains of Foc usually
get too severe too early for a bunch to be produced.
3. Fruit symptoms
Blood disease: Fruit is outwardly unaffected but internally is discoloured
and may contain dry cavities or pockets of reddish brown mucoid tissue.
Moko: The fruit turn yellow and when cut show a firm brown rot that becomes
Bugtok: Fruits of infected plants are internally discoloured red or brown
and remain hard even when ripe.
Xanthomonas wilt: Fruit ripen unevenly and when cut, show a red brown
Compared to fusarium wilt: If fruit are present there will be no discoloration
inside green living fruits.
4. Internal vascular symptoms
Blood disease and moko: Internally brown vascular streaking can be seen
throughout the plant, especially towards the centre of pseudostems and peduncles,
and also in roots.
Cut vascular bundles exude bacterial ooze that is white
to reddish brown colour, (blood disease) or cream, yellow to brown to black
Bugtok: Vascular discoloration also occurs, but because the symptoms of
bugtok are confined to the floral raceme, this does not usually extend far
into the lower part of the fruit stem.
Xanthomonas wilt: Cut vascular bundles exude a yellow ooze.
Compared to fusarium wilt: Discoloration is readily seen in the pseudostem
and would not occur in the fruit peduncles, if present.
vessels are seen as brown, red or yellow continuous vertical lines, which
appear as rings in cross section.
Early in the process, before secondary
rotting becomes extensive, there will be little or no discoloration in the
centre of the pseudostem.
Later however, internal decay gets worse and brown
can be seen throughout.
5. Symptoms in suckers
Blood disease: Most suckers connected to the corm also become infected.
Compared to fusarium wilt: Suckers can often appear completely healthy
and symptom less even though they are usually full of Foc microconidia.
15. Fruit bunch
See diagram 51.17: Bunch
Banana plants start to bear fruit after they have developed a certain
n umber of leaves, 20 to 30 leaves, depending on the variety of banana.
fruit bunch appears at the top of the plant when it is about nine to ten
About 70 days after this the fruits begin to grow, and the bunch
starts to get heavier.
Two things need to be done when the bunch begins
to develop: 1. Put a long piece of wood under the stalk of bunch to support
If this is not done, a strong wind may blow the plant down.
2. Cut off
the large bud of the male flowers about 15 to 20 cm below the bottom of the
Do this two weeks after the first hand of flowers opens.
it is done earlier than this, the plant will lose too much sap.
If it is
done too late, much food will be sent down to this part that is not needed.
Cut off the flower bell 100 mm below the last hand to increase fruit size.
Use props to prevent the banana plants from falling over when bearing a heavy
See diagram 51.18: Packing bananas
1. Fruit develops about two months after the flowering stalk has pushed
The flowering stem has grown up through the middle of the false stem
turned down, and started to form two rows of flowers at each node, female
flowers and later male flowers.
The cluster of female flowers at each node
will produce a hand of bananas.
The male flowers are sterile and soon fall
off leaving a bare stem.
The end of the stem continues to grow even after
the fruit has formed.
2. Each cluster of female and male flowers is enclosed
in a colourful bracket that is like a protective leaf.
The young bracts
at the end of the stem enclose each other to form a cone, ("the bell").
The older bracts further up the stem turn back then an off.
Leave 45 cm of
the stalk above the fruit.
This is used for carrying the bunch easily.
also holds some water that he fruit can use after cutting.
Never leave the fruit in the hot sun.
fruit very carefully to stop bruising and marking the fruit.
Never let sea
water touch the fruit.
Bananas ripen best when they are picked green.
they are to be used for the home, cutting them down when they are fat is
best, round and light green in colour.
If they have to be taken in a truck
or a boat to market, cutting them down when a little younger and the fruit
are still a bit angular and not round is best.
The fruit ripens best in a
dark, cool place.
Take great care should be taken in harvesting bananas.
3.If the fruit has to be
packed into boxes, the hands must be removed and packed neatly in layers
in the box, first one way, then the other.
A little bit of stalk must be
left on each hand so that the fingers of each hand stay together.
4. A bunch is ready to cut when the fruit is fairly evenly rounded with
no prominent ribs, and the dry remains of the flowers break off readily from
the fruit tip in the fingers when rubbed.
If the bunch is protected by an
open plastic sleeve, it can be left on the plant until the fruit begin to
When harvesting, the stalk of the bunch should be cut well above
the top hand of bananas.
5. A bunch is ready to harvest when the fruit is full and round, the remains
of the flowers should break off the end of the fruit when rubbed with the
The fingers are plump, green and almost ready to turn yellow.
the date when the first petal opens.
Twelve weeks later, the fruit should
be ready to be cut down.
Use a bush knife to cut the bunch stalk high up
to leave a long "handle".
If the bunch is too high up, cut partly through
the middle of the false stem to make it bend.
6. Hang up the bunch by the false
stem in a shady place for ripening.
Show the students how to cut down a bunch
and hang it in the shade to ripen fully.
Cut down the tree after harvest.
The first generation tree will bear fruit once only then die to the ground
so after harvesting there is no point in keeping the first generation tree.
7. Cut the first generation tree down near to ground level and care for the
follower crop in the same way as for the first generation crop.
students a flowering stem with bananas.
Explain the different parts of the
stem and the way the bananas are formed from the female flowers.
8. Are the bananas
ripe? Cut open a banana.
Note the six sided fruit.
Squeeze the banana and
note the three parts of the fruit wall.
The three rows of black spots are
the remains of the seeds.
17. Ripening and handling
1. Remove individual hands from a green bunch to be ripened separately to
have ripe bananas over a long period.
Leave the hands to ripen in a cool,
well ventilated place.
Leave the blue plastic bag cover on the bunch, but
open the bottom to provide some extra ventilation.
2. The best ripening temperature
is about 20oC. Above 26oC, the fruit softens and the pulp will ripens but
the skin remains pale green.
Fruit ripened at day temperatures 25oC to 28oC
and night temperatures 17oC to 18oC are usually ready to eat in 2-5 days.
3. Although some people prefer to use fully ripe bananas the quality and the
flavour of the fruit are no less when harvested at the fully developed hard
green stage and ripened later.
The green unripe fruit produces heat and ethylene
slowly then, as the skin colour changes from green to yellow, starts the
ripening phase to quickly produce large amounts of heat and ethylene.
ripen bananas using ripening fruit, seal the bunch, hand or fingers in a
plastic bag with a ripening, (not ripened), red apple or banana to absorb
the ethylene from the ripening fruit.
Leave the bag in a cool dark cupboard,
but not in a refrigerator, for one day in summer or four days or more in
Then remove the ripening fruit but leave the bananas in the plastic
4. When bananas show the first signs of ripening, remove them from the
plastic bag and allow them to ripen normally.
Do not store bananas below
13oC so do not store them in a domestic refrigerator.
However, bunches of
green bananas stored at 13.3oC give off little heat or ethylene and so can
be stored for about 2 weeks without ripening.
Below 10oC, spoilage
occurs when phenolic amines, e.g. dopamine, inside the vacuoles of banana
skin cells, leak out and react with polyphenol oxidases and air to form brown
Warming these bananas increases the skin browning.
5. Select a banana with a natural yellow white skin with no black patches.
Put the banana in the refrigerator freezer overnight.
The next day observe
the banana still in the freezer.
It is frozen hard and the same colour
as the night before.
The oxidase enzymes cannot function at such a low temperature.
Cover a plate with water to make a 0,5 cm layer of water over the plate.
Remove the banana from the freezer and place it on the plate.
skin darkens before your eyes an the if you feel the banana it is soft
Pick up the banana a and observe its underside.
It still has the
same colour as the night before because the water on the plate did not allow
oxygen to have access to the browning reaction.
Put the banana on the table.
The whole banana becomes black and squashy.
18. Uses of bananas
1. Bananas are a good source of dietary fibre, Vitamin C, vitamin A and
A banana may contain more potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron,
Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, Niacin, and ascorbic acid than an apple!
When harvested when the fruit is mature but still green the banana is mostly
starch and about 1% sugar.
As they ripen the starch converts entirely to
sugar until when ripe they are nearly 20% sugar.
Ripe bananas have a smooth
consistency and a characteristic smell caused by amyl acetate and other esters
The acidity increases during ripening when they have a a dry,
.Very ripe bananas are easily digested, which helps sick
people and they are an excellent weaning food for babies when they stop drinking
their mother's milk.
Plantains, (cooking bananas), have a high concentration
of starched, so they must be cooked.
2. Prevent bananas from ripening too quickly by keeping them wrapped
in a double sheet of newspaper in a cool cupboard.
In very hot weather keep
bananas wrapped in aluminium foil in a refrigerator to extend their shelf
If not to be eaten immediately, choose bananas with green tips.
yellow bananas are almost ready to eat and bananas with brown specks on the
skin should be eaten immediately.
Keep bananas at room temperature away
from direct sunlight.
The skin will turn brown black caused by browning
enzymes and and phenolic substances, but the flesh will be unaffected.
ideal refrigeration temperature is about 13oC. If stored below
10oC, spoilage increases because of increase phenol levels from
breakdown of cell membranes.
To assist ripening of green bananas put them
in a paper bag with an apple or pear.
If using fresh bananas in fruit salads
squeeze lemon juice over them to prevent browning.
Use very ripe bananas
in muffins or cakes.
If using bananas in sandwiches, custards or fruit salads
drop them in boiling water for a few seconds before peeling,
so that they
will not turn black when used but will keep their original colour.
3. Bananas with a high sugar content are usually eaten raw.
high starch content, (plantains), are usually cooked.
Banana leaves can be used for wrapping fish, meat or chicken to be steamed,
poached, grilled or barbecued.
The stems and leaves can be used for plates,
wrapping, umbrellas and cattle feed.
The fibres can be used to make a batik
The banana blossom, (banana inflorescence), can be eaten after peeling
off the outer leaves.
It can be cooked in curries or soups.
The male banana
flower can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable.
However, depending on the
variety, the flower may have too high oxalic content and so are too astringent
for most people.
4. Simple Banana Bread
Cream together in a bowl 113 g softened butter, 1 cup sugar or coconut sugar, 3 eggs.
Add 3 very ripe large mashed bananas.
Sift together the following dry ingredient: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda,
1/2 tsp baking powder, 1.2 tsp salt.
Then add to the creamed mixture alternately
with 3 tsp buttermilk and 1/2 tsp vanilla.
Stir until just combined.
in the 1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts.
Pour into greased and parchment lined
Bake at 180oC in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer
comes out clean when tested.
Cool in pan briefly then turn out onto a rack
to cool completely.
Keeps well if refrigerated.
5. Use central core of the banana bell, the tender immature flowers and bracts for salads and as a cooked vegetable.
20. Grow bananas at home
Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Queensland has warned nursery operators
and residential growers in southern Queensland about the illegal sale and
purchase of banana plants.
Investigations have also revealed that purchasers
were not in receipt of an inspector's approval allowing them to move and
plant the banana plants.
Nursery owners who sell plants to people without
approvals and residential growers buying and planting banana plants without
approval could face fines.
To transplant any bananas, including Ladyfingers,
in your backyard you need to obtain a free planting approval from the DPI.
This will be issued if source material is acceptable and the plants are permitted
varieties for the area.
Residential plantings are those bananas not grown
for commercial purposes.
Residential growers may plant a maximum of 10 plants
of permitted banana varieties, but only after obtaining written approval.
The only permitted varieties for residential growers in southern Queensland
are Ladyfinger, Blue Java, Ducasse, Goldfinger, Bluggoe (plantain or cooking
and Kluai Namwa Khom (Dwarf Ducasse) and Pisang Ceylan.
behind only being able to plant these varieties is that all banana plants,
including Ladyfinger, are susceptible to Banana Bunchy Top Virus.
identified for residential use grow taller making them easier to see when
conducting residential property inspections for the disease.
as Ladyfinger tend to show the bunchy top virus symptoms clearly as opposed
to Cavendish varieties.
Banana plants are also susceptible to Panama disease,a
soil-borne fungus often moved in infested planting material.
In some countries
with a developed banana industry, it is illegal to grow bananas at home in
the ground or in pots.
You may need permission to up to a maximum of 10 banana
plants or 30 pseudostems of approved varieties for a residential plantation.
Residential plantations are defined as those bananas not grown for commercial
Residential banana growers must comply with current biosecurity
Only certain banana varieties may be allowed on residential
plantations in certain areas.
Bananas grown in the home need bright diffused light, warmth, the right
kind of food and attention once they are in fruit.
In temperate countries,
bananas are relatively free of pests.
To grow bananas as an indoor plant,
you need a sun porch, a greenhouse or a room with good light.
Bees are unnecessary
to produce fruit.
Plant outdoors in the summer on a wheeled caddy, but drag
it indoors before the first frost.
Bananas are not frost tolerant plants.
Temperatures below 0oC will kill off the foliage.
the rhizome will die.
Some non fruiting species, e.g. Musa basjoo,
will take much colder weather.
Banana plants do well in the same narrow air temperature range that humans
The optimum temperatures are between 20oC and 27oC.
Below 20oC bananas may stop growing because the roots must be
Do not expose the plant to temperatures greater than 30oC.
However, the plant will not die if it has sufficient water.
Timing of fruit
production is related to leaf output, so slowed growth from being too cool
or too hot retards leaf emergence and delays fruiting.
During high temperatures,
plants in pots can be taken indoors.
The plant needs sun or other light on its leaves and warm roots.
heat-retaining pot and a gravel or black plastic mulch can boost soil temperature.
Night time drops in temperature or low humidity do not seem to affect fruiting
types of bananas but they take them longer to produce fruit.
are seedless, so they reproduce either by rhizomes or suckers that sprout
from the base of a mature stalk, called "pups".
have been pathogen tested, making them ideal for use in residential plantations.
These suckers are what you generally get when you purchase banana plants
They should be planted soon after purchase.
The most suitable
planting mixes generally have the sandy loam quality that bananas like best.
Start planting in big container, or plan on potting up within three months.
These are fast growing plants that ultimately need at least a 15 gallon size
Choose a dwarf variety, e.g. Dwarf Cavendish, about 4 feet at
maturity and is recommended for indoor planting.
Bananas are heavy feeders, with potassium and nitrogen the key nutrients.
Combine a good organic 5-5-5 fertilizer with a generous side dressing of
a natural potassium source, e.g. kelp meal.
Mix about 1/3 cup of the organic
5-5-5 when first planting the banana in 20 litre container, then add more
when potting up into a 55 litre container.
Feed generously during the warm
Container grown bananas planted in potting soil should be
fed small doses of organic fertilizer with every second watering.
a direct correlation between nutrient availability early in a young banana
plant s life and the number and quality of fruits produced.
Bananas can be
burnt by over fertilization with chemical fertilizers.
Never let a banana in a pot to dry out.
For bananas in the ground, water
at least once a week in extremely hot weather.
Cultivation is the same as growing banana plants in the ground: After
all the fingerling bananas have formed, cut off the huge maroon flower otherwise
it will sap energy that is better used to develop fruit.
Support the fruiting
stalk by propping it up with two pieces of crossed bamboo or lumber to leave
the fruiting stalk hanging down.
To speed ripening, cover the bunch with
a white or blue plastic bag.
Keep offshoots, or pups, down to one or two
in the pot along with the main stalk.
After the plant has fruited, discard
the stalk that bore the bunch and cut off the pups, leaving any roots attached,
then re-pot each individual remaining chunk with fresh soil.
Ripe bananas will have achieved a full colour and will have rounded out
between the longitudinal ridges of the skin.
Immature bananas have an angular
You can finish ripening them in a bag with an apple.
However, if the
fruit starts to split harvest them immediately without waiting for the full
You can remove one hand at a time to test for maturity without
using a whole bunch.
After harvest cut down the stalk about 100 cm above
the ground to avoid a crowded forest of non producing plants competing for
Banana behaves like a tropical weed.
Some growers cut down the
fruiting stalk with the fruit still attached to save the work of climbing
a ladder and lowering a heavy bunch.
When cutting the stalk, remember that
juices from the cut may cause a brown stain on clothes and may irritate the
21. Panama Disease, The State of Queensland (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) 2010-2015.
Panama disease is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense.
There are several races of Panama disease:
Race 1 attacks Lady finger, sugar and ducasse bananas, but not Cavendish bananas.
Race 2 attacks cooking bananas like bluggoe and blue Java bananas
Race 3 attacks only heliconia and is not a problem on bananas.
Race 4 attacks nearly all varieties of bananas, including the main commercial
There are two important strains of this race:
Subtropical race 4 usually produces symptoms in cavendish after a period of cold stress.
Tropical race 4 which is a serious threat to the Australian banana industry.
Location in Queensland
Race 1 and 2 are present in Queensland.
Sub tropical race 4 is also present in South East Queensland.
Tropical Race 4 is present in the Northern Territory.
Both strains of race
4 pose a serious risk to Queensland's banana industry.
Quarantine and interstate
plant movement restrictions aim to minimise this risk.
What it looks like
The first symptoms are yellowing and dying of the leaf edges, often mistaken
for effects of water stress.
These leaves can turn brown and dry out.
leaves later collapse until the plant has the appearance of a stump with
a skirt of dead or dying leaves.
The plants may look 'wilted'.
stem may split.
Suckers may not be affected.
Inside the banana stem, the
water conducting tissue is discoloured as the fungus infects the plants vascular
Infected plants rarely fruit, and when they do they aren't marketable.
The symptoms of tropical race 4 are the same as for the other races, except
the onset is generally quicker and the disease is generally more aggressive,
leading to rapid plant death.
Be on the lookout for unusual symptoms of aggressive Panama disease in your
bananas and report them to us.
Early detection is key for preventing the
establishment of tropical race 4 in Queensland.�
The disease is easily moved on infected plating material.
Regulations on plant movement are in place to prevent this.
The disease can spread over short distances via root to root contact and
Spread can also occur from parent plants to suckers.
can also be moved with soil, water and on contaminated equipment.
disease fungal spores can survive many years in soil.
Prevention is the most effective disease control measure.
To exclude Panama
disease from reaching your property, always use clean, disease free planting
material such as tissue culture plants or plants from a proven disease free
Practicing simple hygiene measures such as ensuring shoes, equipment and
vehicles are clean and free of soil and plant material prior to use.
access to properties and training staff in hygiene management and early disease
detection are vital in preventing disease introduction and in managing disease
Parts of Queensland are free of some of the Panama disease strains.
industry and the Queensland Government are keen to minimise the effects of
this disease by eradicating infections where possible and restricting movement
of bananas from infected areas.
Constant vigilance keeps Panama disease in check.
The key strategies for Panama disease in Queensland are:
1. continuing to monitor the distribution of this fungus in Queensland
2. ensuring no movement of infested planting material, soil or contaminated equipment
3. establishing criteria for ensuring planting material and nursery plants are free of disease
4. seeking disease-resistant varieties in collaboration with world breeding programs and collections.
Panama disease is a Notifiable Disease in Queensland under the Plant Protection
There are strict quarantine regulations to prevent the spread
of this disease.
Please help us detect and manage the threat of Panama disease.
If you suspect you have detected the disease, report it to us immediately.
Before teaching this project, discuss the content of the lessons with
a field officer of the Ministry of Agriculture,
and get advice on planting
material, planting distances, a site for planting, approved mulch, composting,
and control of pests and diseases.
Use only the procedures, agricultural
chemicals and insecticides recommended by the local field officer of the
Ministry of Agriculture.
If you cannot control insects by hand-picking, ask
the Ministry of Agriculture to recommend a chemical spray.
All insect sprays
Show the students how to use them safely.
Do not get the spray
onto your hands.
Do not breathe in the spray.
Wash your hands well after using
Keep the spray container in a safe place where students cannot get
Spray on a day of no wind but if you must spray when there is a wind,
spray down wind.
Make sure the spray does not blow on other people.
These teaching materials were originally written and illustrated by Mr
J. A. Sutherland, Faculty of Education, University of New England, Armidale,
and later edited by Dr J. Elfick, School of Education, University
of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.