BANANA (Musa spp)
Land Preparation: Clearing of the land which is followed by stumping and making of ridges or heaps. It can also be done mechanically through ploughing, harrowing and ridging.
Varieties/Cultivars: Gross Michel; cavendish (dwarf); red banana; canary banana.
Climatic and soil requirements: Banana plant requires a temperature of 21°C – 25°C, rainfall of 150cm – 200cm per annum and a well- drained, rich, loamy soil.
Planting Materials: These are corm (or bits), peeper suckers, sword sucker and maiden sucker.
Propagation/Planting Date: Banana is propagated by vegetative means any time from April to September. Dig a hole and plant the sucker with ball of earth. The hole should be 60cm x 60cm. The holes are filled with soil mixed with organic matter.
Spacing: 4m x 4m.
- Weeding: This should be done regularly to prevent competition with crops for nutrients.
- Mulching: This should be done to prevent evaporation.
- Fertilizer Application: Apply Muriate of potash 25kg/ha by ring method at regular intervals.
- Pruning: This should be done to avoid over-population per stand.
- Pests and other insects should be controlled.
Maturity period: It matures between 12-18 months, depending on the variety.
Harvesting: A bunch of banana is harvested when the fruit is severed from the bunch stalk by using cutlass. At times, the pseudo-stem is cut until the tree falls.
Processing/Storage: Banana is either eaten raw when ripe or can be processed into juice which is stored in cans. The ripe fruit can be stored temporarily in refrigerator.
Pests of Banana
1) Stem Borer: The larvae of some insects bore into and destroy the tissue of the plant.
- Apply dieldrin dust or furadan.
2) Nematode: It makes the root of banana to grow galls or knots, leading to poor growth.
- Use appropriate nematicide.
3) Rats and Monkeys: These eat up the matured or ripe fruits.
- Use poison baits.
- Set traps.
- Harvest ripe fruit early.
Diseases of Banana
1) Panama disease: It is caused by fungus (Fusarium oxysperum) which is spread through the soil. Symptoms include collapsing of the petiole and withering of the leaves.
- Use resistant varieties.
- Spray with fungicide.
2) Leaf spot (or Sigatoka) disease: It is caused by a fungus (Cercospora mycosiphaerella) which is transmitted by air or wind.
Symptoms: include yellow or brown chlorotic spots which later unite to form or bind lateral to parallel vein.
- Spray with fungicide, e.g. Bordeaux mixture.
3) Bunchy top disease: It is caused by a virus transmitted by an insect. Symptoms include stunted plant with crowded leaves having curled edges.
- Ensure field sanitation.
- Bury or burn infected plants.