Banana Farming – A Step by Step Guide
The following article details Banana Farming Techniques, Planting Methods of Banana, Caring Banana plants, and harvesting techniques.
Importance of Banana in India:
Banana is one of the major and economically important fruit crops of India. Banana occupies 20% of the area among the total area under crop in India. Most the Banana is grown by planting suckers. The technology development in agriculture is very fast, it results in developing a Tissue Culture Technique. The Tissue Culture Banana is very tasty.
Agro-Climatic Conditions for Banana Plantation:
Banana, basically a tropical crop, grows well in a temperature range of 15ºC – 35ºC with a relative humidity of 75-85%. It prefers tropical humid lowlands and is grown from the sea level to an elevation of 2000m. above m.s.l. In India, this crop is being cultivated in climates ranging from humid tropical to dry mild subtropics through a selection of appropriate varieties. Chilling injury occurs at a temperature below 12ºC. The high velocity of wind exceeds 80 km /hr. damages the crop. Four months of monsoon (June to September) with an average 650-750 mm. rainfall is most important for vigorous vegetative growth of bananas. At higher altitudes, banana cultivation is restricted to a few varieties like ‘Hill banana”.
Deep, rich loamy soil with a pH between 6.5 – 7.5 is most preferred for banana farming. Soil for bananas should have good drainage, adequate fertility, and moisture. Saline solid, calcareous soils are not suitable for banana cultivation. A soil that is neither too acidic nor too alkaline, rich in organic material with high nitrogen content, adequate phosphorus level, and plenty of potash is good for a banana.
Suitable Soil Type for Banana Plantation:
In Banana Farming, Soil for bananas should have good drainage, adequate fertility, and moisture. Deep, rich loamy soil with a pH between 6-7.5 is most preferred for banana cultivation. Ill drained, poorly aerated, and nutritionally deficient soils are not suitable for the banana. Saline solid, calcareous soil is not suitable for Banana cultivation. Avoided soil of low-lying areas, very sandy & heavy black cotton with ill drainage.
A soil that is not too acidic and not too alkaline, rich in organic material with high nitrogen content, adequate phosphorus level, and plenty of potash are good for the banana.
In India, banana is grown under diverse conditions and production systems. in your banana farming, the Selection of varieties, therefore, is based on a large number of varieties catering to various kinds of needs and situations. However, around 20 cultivars viz. Dwarf Cavendish, Robusta, Monthan, Poovan, Nendran, Red banana, Nyali, Safed Velchi, Basarai, Ardhapuri, Rasthali, Karpurvalli, Karthali, and Grandnaine etc..Grandnaine is gaining popularity and may soon be the most preferred variety due to its tolerance to biotic stresses and good quality bunches. Bunches have well-spaced hands with a straight orientation of figures, bigger in size. Fruit develops an attractive uniform yellow color with better shelf life & quality than other cultivars.
Land Preparation for Banana Planting:
Prior to planting bananas, grow the green manuring crop like daincha, cowpea, etc., and bury them in the soil. The land can be plowed 2-4 times and leveled. Use a rotavator or harrow to break the clod and bring the soil to a fine tilth. During soil preparation, a basal dose of farmyard manure (FYM) is added and thoroughly mixed into the soil.
A pit size of 45cm x 45cm x 45cm is normally required. The pits are to be refilled with topsoil mixed with 10 kg of FYM (well decomposed), 250 gm of Neem cake, and 20 gm of conbofuron. Prepared pits are left to solar radiation helps in killing the harmful insects, is effective against soil-borne diseases, and aids aeration. In saline-alkali soil where PH is above 8 Pit mixture is to be modified to incorporate organic matter.
Planting Material of Banana Crop:
- About 70% of the farmers are using suckers as planting material while the rest 30% of the farmers are using tissue culture seedlings. Sword suckers with well-developed rhizome, conical or spherical in shape having actively growing conical bud and weighing approximately 450-700 gm are commonly used as propagating material.
- In Banana Farming, suckers generally may be infected with some pathogens and nematodes. Similarly, due to the variation in age and size of the sucker, the crop is not uniform, harvesting is prolonged and management becomes difficult. Therefore, in-vitro clonal propagation i.e. Tissue culture plants are recommended for planting. They are healthy, disease-free, uniform in growth, and early-yielding.
Advantages of Tissue Culture Planting Material:
- True to the type of mother plant under good management.
- Pest and disease-free seedlings.
- Uniform growth, increases yield.
- Early maturity of crop – maximum land use is possible in low landholding countries like India.
- Round the year planting possible as seedlings are made available throughout the year.
- Two successive ratoons are possible in a short duration which minimizes the cost of cultivation.
- No staggered harvesting.
- 95% – 98% plants bear bunches.
The Best Planting Season of Banana:
Planting of tissue culture Banana can be done throughout the year except when the temperature is too low or too high. The facility of a drip irrigation system is important. There are two important seasons in Maharashtra, India;
Mrig Baug (Kharif) Month of planting June – July. Kande Baug (Rabi) Month of planting October – November.
Crop Geometry in the Production of Banana:
Read this: How To Grow Banana In Containers.
Banana Planting Methods:
Pit planting is commonly followed in the garden system of cultivation. A pit size of 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 m. is normally required. Small pits are dug in case of ridges and furrows. The pits are to be refilled with topsoil mixed with 10 kg of FYM (well decomposed), 250 gm of neem cake, and 20 gm of carbofuran. Prepared pits are left open for 15-20 days for solar radiation to kill all the insects, soil-borne diseases, and for aeration before refilling. In saline-alkali soil where the pH is above 8, the pit mixture is to be modified incorporating organic matter and gypsum.
The suckers are planted in the center of the pit and the soil around is compacted. Plants are planted in the pits keeping pseudostem 2cm below the ground level. The soil around the plant is gently pressed. Deep planting should be avoided. The field is irrigated immediately after planting. Furrow planting is practiced in the annual planting system in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Trench planting is practiced in wetland cultivation of the Cauvery delta region of Tamil Nadu.
Irrigation Management of Banana Orchard:
Banana, a water-loving plant, requires a large quantity of water for maximum productivity. But Banana roots are the poor withdrawal of water. Therefore under Indian conditions, banana production should be supported by an efficient irrigation system like drip irrigation. The water requirement of bananas has been worked out to be 2000mm per Annum. The application of drip irrigation and mulching technology has reported improved water use efficiency. There is a saving of 56% of water and increasing yield by 23-32% under the drip.
Irrigate the plants immediately after planting. Apply sufficient water and maintain field capacity. Excess irrigation will lead to root zone congestion due to the removal of air from soil pores, thereby affecting plant establishment and growth. And hence drip method is a must for proper water management in Banana.
Read this: Banana Farming Project Report.
Application of Manure and Fertilizers for Banana Plants:
Banana requires a high amount of nutrients, which are often supplied only in part by the soil. The nutrient requirement that has been worked out on an India basis is to be 20 kg FYM, 200gm N; 60-70gm P; 300gm K/plant. Banana requires heavy nutrition. The banana crop requires 7-8 Kg N, 0.7- 1.5 Kg P, and 17-20 Kg K per metric tonne yield. Banana responds well to the application of nutrients. Traditionally farmers use more urea and less phosphorous and potash.
In order to avoid loss of nutrients from conventional fertilizers i.e. loss of N through leaching, volatilization, evaporation, and loss of P and K by fixation in the soil, application of water-soluble or liquid fertilizers through drip irrigation (fertigation) is encouraged. A 25-30% increase in yield is observed using fertigation. Moreover, it saves labor and time and the distribution of nutrients is uniform.
Intercultural operations in Banana Crop:
The Root system of bananas is superficial and easily damaged by cultivation, use of intercrop which is not desirable. However short durational crops (45-60 days) like mung, cowpea, dhaincha are to be considered as green manuring crops. Crops from the cucurbitaceous family should be avoided as these carry viruses.
Weeding of Banana Plants:
Spraying of Glyphosate (Roundup) before planting at the rate of 2 lit/ha is carried out to keep the plantation weed-free. One or two manual weedings are necessary.
- Micronutrient Foliar Spray : Combined foliar application of ZnSo4 (0.5%), FcSo4 (0.2%), CuSo4 (0.2%) and H3Bo3 (0.1%) can be adopted to improve morphological, physiological and yield attributes of banana. The micronutrient spray solution is prepared by dissolving the following in 100 lit. of water. Zinc sulfate – 500 gm – For every 10 liters of mixture 5-10 ml of sticker solution such as Teepol should be added before spraying. Ferrom sulfate – 200 gm – For every 10 liters of mixture 5-10 ml of sticker solution such as Teepol should be added before spraying. Copper – 200 gm – For every 10 liters of mixture 5-10 ml of sticker solution such as Teepol should be added before spraying.
- Removal of male buds :(Denavelling) Removal of male buds helps fruit development and increases bunch weight. Male buds are removed from the last 1-2 small hands with a clean-cut keeping a single finger in the last hand.
- Bunch Spray: Spray of monocrotophos (0.2%) after the emergence of all hands takes care of the thrips. Thrips attack discolors the fruit skin and makes it unattractive.
- Bunch Covering: Covering the bunch using dried leaves of the plant is economical and prevents the bunch from direct exposure to sunlight. The bunch cover enhances the quality of the fruit. But in the rainy season, this practice should be avoided.
Sleeving of the bunch is done to protect fruits against dust, spray residue, insects, and birds. For this blue plastic sleeves are preferred. This also increases the temperature around developing bunch and helps in early maturity.
- Dehandling of false hands of the bunch: In a bunch, there are some incomplete hands that are not fit for quality produce. These hands should be removed soon after bloom. This helps in improving the weight of other hands. Sometimes the hand just above the false hand is also removed.
- Propping: Due to the heavyweight of the bunch the plant goes out of balance and the bearing plant may lodge and production and quality are adversely affected. Therefore they should be propped with the help of two bamboos forming a triangle by placing them against the stems on the leaning side. This also helps in the uniform development of the bunch.
Read this: Cultivation Practices of Chives.
Banana Harvesting Procedure:
Banana should be harvested at the physiological maturity stage for better postharvest quality. The fruit is climacteric and can reach the consumption stage after ripening operation
- Maturity indices: These are established on the basis of fruit shape, angularity, grade or diameter of the median figure of the second hand, starch content, and number of days that have elapsed after flowering. Market preferences can also affect the decision for harvesting a slight or fully mature fruit.
- Removal of the bunch: The bunch should be harvested when figures of the second hand from the top are 3/4 rounded with the help of a sharp sickle 30cm above the first hand. Harvest may be delayed up to 100-110 days after the opening of the first hand. The harvested bunch should generally be collected in a well-padded tray or basket and brought to the collection site. Bunches should be kept out of light after harvest since this hastens to ripen and soften. For local consumption, hands are often left on stalks and sold to retailers. For export, hands are cut into units of 4-16 fingers, graded for both length and girth, and carefully placed in poly-lined boxes to hold different weights depending on export requirements.
Post-harvest management of Banana farming:
At the collection site injured and over-mature fruits are discarded and for a local market, bunches should be delivered through lorries or wagons. However, for more sophisticated and export market where the quality is predominant, bunches should be dehanded, fruits are cleared in running water or dilute sodium hypochlorite solution to remove the latex and treated with thiabendazole; air-dried and graded on the basis of the size of fingers as already stated, packed in ventilated CFB boxes of 14.5 kg capacity or as per the requirement with polythene lining and pre-cooled at 13-15ºC temperature and at 80-90% RH.
Such material should then be sent under cool chain at 13ºC for marketing
The yield of Banana:
The planted crop gets ready for harvest within 11-12 months of planting. Firstly, the ratoon crop would be ready by 8-10 months from the harvesting of the main crop and the second ratoon by 8-9 months after the second crop.
Thus over a period of 28-30 months, it is possible to harvest three crops i.e. one main crop and two ratoon crops. Under drip irrigation combined with Fertigation yield of Bananas as high as 100 T/ha can be obtained with the help of tissue culture technique, even a similar yield in the ratoon crops can be achieved if the crop is managed well.
Banana Farming is Fun and Profitable provided if climatic conditions support it.
Read this: Best Indoor Hydroponic Plants.
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