Yelakki Banana Farming in India: Production and Cultivation Management Practices

Among all fruits known to humankind, the banana is the oldest and most common. In India, it is one of the most important fruits and constitutes the second-largest fruit industry. It is an edible, nutritious fruit that is easy to digest. Throughout the year, it is available. In addition to carbohydrates, bananas contain minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and phosphorus. Other than fresh fruits, they can be consumed as processed in various forms like chips, powder, flakes, etc. The banana pseudostem is chopped and used as cattle feed. Also, the leaves are used as a plate. The botanical names of bananas are Musa cavendish and Musa paradisiaca, which belong to the family Musaceae.

Yelakki Banana Farming in India
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Yelakki Banana is one of the most commonly cultivated commercial bananas, especially in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The slender, medium-tall plant bearing dark green fruits turn golden yellow with highly fragrant, tasty, powdery, and firm fruits. The plants bearing the fruits are smaller, with prominent beaks packed closely around the axis, having a windblown appearance. Unripe fruits turn bright yellow upon ripening. The pulp of the fruit is ivory-white. It is special for long transportation. The skin is usually thin, but the flesh is sweet. 

Yelakki banana farming in India

Characteristics of Yelakki banana

  • The average weight of the bunch is 10 to 12 kilograms under good management.
  • It can produce 10-14 hands and 12-15 fingers consisting of 100-150 fruits per plant.
  • Matured height of the Yelakki Banana is 12 – 14 feet. The length of the fruit is 4-5″.
  • Yelakki banana cultivated states in India
  • Southern States Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Kerela, Telangana, Tamil Nadu & Maharastra, and Bihar widely cultivate Yelakki bananas.
  • Yield per plant and acre:  Average yield per plant – 15 to 18 Kg/plant; Minimum – 8 Kg; Maximum – 20 Kg; Yield per acre – 14 to 16 tons
  • Approximate harvest Time 10 – 12 months

Soil required for Yelakki banana farming

Soil fertility is crucial for successful banana cultivation since bananas are heavy feeders. In comparison with other fruits, bananas have a restricted root zone. Therefore, depth and drainage are the most important factors when selecting banana soil. Bananas need rich, well-drained, fertile, moisture-retentive soil and a lot of organic matter. The soil should be 0.5-1m deep.

A pH range of 6.5-7.5 is recommended for banana cultivation. The best soils for banana cultivation are alluvial and volcanic. Indian bananas are grown on various soils, including heavy clay soils in the Cauveri delta, alluvial soils in the Gangetic delta, coastal sand loams, and red lateritic soils in Kerala’s hilly tracts. Bananas are famous for growing in these areas.

Climate requirement for Yelakki banana farming

Bananas are tropical plants that require a warm, humid climate to thrive. However, the plant can grow from sea level to 1200 meters at all altitudes. Growing it at temperatures between 10°C and 40°C with high humidity is possible, but growth is retarded at temperatures between 20°C and 35°C. For an extended period, temperatures above 24°C lead to higher yields.

In cooler climates, the crop requires a longer time to mature. Plants exposed to low temperatures and humidity during the active growth stage show reduced growth and yields. Hot winds blowing at high speed will shred and desiccate the leaves during summer. It requires, on average, 1700 mm of rainfall distributed throughout the year for its satisfactory growth. The stagnation of water is harmful and may cause diseases like Panama wilt.

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Yelakki Banana Farming
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Field preparation

  • The selected field must be plowed 4-6 times and allowed to weather for two weeks.
  • Rotovator or harrow breaks the clod and brings the soil to a slight tilt. During soil preparation, a basal dose of farm yard manure (about 50 tonnes/ha. before the last harrowing) is added and thoroughly mixed into the soil.
  • It is usually necessary to dig a pit that measures 45cm x 45cm x 45cm. Refilling the pits will involve mixing topsoil with 10 kg of farm yard manure (well decomposed), 250 gm of Neem cake, and 20 gm of carbofuran.
  • Nematicides and fumigants are added to pits before planting in areas where nematodes are prevalent.
  • A prepared pit is exposed to solar radiation to kill insects, prevent soil-borne diseases, and enhance aeration.
  • In saline-alkali soil where PH is above 8, the pit mixture must be modified to incorporate organic matter. The addition of organic matter helps in reducing salinity, while the addition of perlite improves porosity and aeration.
  • Fields should be plowed in length-and-breadth-wise furrows at the required spacing. Pits equivalent to 0.6 m x 0.6 m x 0.6 m should be dug sufficiently in advance at the points where the plow furrows meet.

Planting Distance and no.s of plants need per acre

System of Planting Planting distancePlant population per acre
Paired row1.2*1.2*2.0 m2100
Square system1.8*1.8 m1250
Triangular system1.5*1.8 m1500
2-suckers/hill1.8*3.6 m1300
3-sukers/hill1.8*3.6 m2000

Pre-treatment of suckers

  • Cut the pseudostem 20 cm from the corm and grade the suckers after trimming the roots and decaying portion of the corm.
  • It is recommended to pare infected portions of the corm and dip for 5 minutes in 0.1% Emisan solution (1g in 1L of water) to avoid developing wilt disease.
  • Each sucker is dipped in 40 g of Carbofuran 3 G granules. The corm should be dipped in a slurry solution that contains four parts clay and five parts water to control nematodes. Carbofuran should be sprinkled on top.
  • The corm may also be dipped in Monocrotophos and shade dried for at least 24 hours before planting.
  • It is recommended to use 5- to 6-leaved tissue-cultured banana plants.

Planting Yelakki banana

Planting can take place between May and June or between September and October. Suckers are planted upright in small pits taken in the center, leaving a pseudostem 5 cm above the soil surface. Suckers are pressed into the soil to prevent hollow air spaces. The tissue culture plants are planted at ground level on top of the pit. Plants should be planted without damage caused by polythene. After planting, light irrigation is applied. It is important to provide partial shade immediately after planting.

  • Yelakki bananas can be planted throughout the year except during severe winters and heavy rains.
  • Planting is best done after the monsoon season (October-November).
  • In February-March, planting can be done with assured irrigation.
  • Cultivars, topography, and soil fertility all will influence plant population.
  • When planting, apply 25 grams of Pseudomonas fluorescence per plant.

Irrigation requirements in Yelakki banana cultivation

Banana is a shallow-rooted crop that requires a large quantity of water to increase productivity. Overall it requires 70-75 irrigations for good yield. Provide irrigation at an interval of 7-8days in winter, whereas in summer, provide irrigation at an interval of 4-5days. In the rainy season, provide irrigation if required. Remove excess water from the field, as it will affect plant establishment and growth.

Advanced irrigation technology like drip irrigation can be used. Research shows that drip irrigation in bananas saves about 58% of water and increases yield by 23-32%. In drip irrigation, apply water at 5-10 liters per plant per day from planting to 4th month, 10-15 liters per plant per day from 5th to shooting, and 15 liters per plant per day from shooting to till 15 days before harvest.

Fertilizing Yelakki Banana crop

  • Bananas are heavy feeders and respond well to organic manure.
  • If banana trees are fertilized regularly with nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), they will thrive throughout the growing season.
  • In India, nutrient requirements are 10 kg FYM, 200-250 grams N; 60-70 grams P; 300 grams K. For banana production, 7-8 kg N, 0.7-1.5 kg P, and 17-20 kg K is needed per metric ton. It is traditional for farmers to use more urea and less phosphorous and potash in their crops. A split dose of urea is applied in three to four stages.
  • Applying 150 grams of N in the vegetative phase and 50 grams of application of 25% N as farmyard manure and 1 kg of Neem cake is beneficial.
  • As a result of calcium’s interaction with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, it influences yield. Therefore, lime (CaCO3) and dolomite (Mg2CO3) are commonly used as soil amendments in soils with acidic conditions.
  • In acute Mg deficiencies, foliar application of Mg SO4 is effective. Although a sulfur deficiency in soils has been reported but is not a serious problem in the case of bananas. Sulfur uptake is active during the sucker to shooting stage, but after shooting, sulfur supply comes from leaves and pseudostem

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Banana Farming
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Intercrop in Yelakki banana cultivation

  • During the early growth stage of banana plantations, intercrop can easily be grown. Mixed cropping is also practiced in some parts of India.
  • After bananas are planted, intercrops such as brinjal, colocasia, turmeric, chilies, okra, radish, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, maize, etc., may be planted, depending on the climatic conditions. In addition, mixed banana, arecanut, and coconut cropping are common along coastal belts.
  • Bananas are also grown in different parts of India as shade plants for coffee, cocoa, rubber, young mango trees, and oranges.
  • Beans are most commonly associated with bananas as an annual crop. The two crops, however, are compatible in a multi-story system since beans do not compete with bananas above ground and are shade-tolerant.

Mulching and weed management in Yelakki banana crop

In addition to conserving soil moisture, mulching increases feeder roots, optimizes nutrient and water use, suppresses weed growth, and enhances banana yield by 30-40%. You can use organic mulch such as compost, rotted leaf litter, lawn clippings (composted), straw, and rotted hay. As banana trees hold a lot of water, chop up any foliage you cut down and mulch it around the tree.

During vegetative growth and transition phases, when nutrient availability is crucial in yield determination, weeds could cause severe damage. This is because weeds compete for moisture and nutrients and also harbor pests. Generally, bananas suffer little from the competition of broad-leaved herbaceous weeds. Instead, grasses are the major weeds, and the competition is normally indicated by nitrogen deficiency in the bananas, as shown by the yellowing of young foliage. The grasses and sedges constitute 70% of the weed flora.

  • Pre-emergence application of Atrazine (within a week of planting) or simazine or Diuron at 600 to 800 grams/acre soon after planting would keep the field free from weeds for 3 to 5 months.
  • At post-emergence, paraquat (150 grams/acre) or Dalapon (1.2 to 1.6 kg/acre) or 2,4-D (200 grams/acre) or Glyphosate – 5th leaf stage – per plant 5ml/liter.
  • Repeat after a month if needed. If weed growth is heavy at a later stage of the crop – one round, at per plant 10ml/liter.

Bunch Covering

  • Sunburn, hot wind, and dust can be prevented by covering bunches with gunny cloth or polythene.
  • For attractive colors, Cavendish bananas and Yelakki bananas are covered with bunches.
  • Using perforated or polythene bags for bunch covering increased yield by 15-20%.
  • Flags can protect the main stalk from rot by covering the bunch’s peduncle.

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Yelakki Banana
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Banana diseases

Disease symptoms
  • This disease is more prevalent in young suckers, leading to rotting and foul odors
  • Rotting of the collar region is the most common symptom, followed by sudden epinasty of the leaves
  • In the early stage of infection, dark brown or yellow water-soaked areas are more in the cortex area. When affected plants are cut open at the collar region, yellowish to reddish ooze is seen.
Chemical control and management
  • It is generally not serious enough to warrant treatment or preventative measures for leaf spots. However, it is necessary to spray regularly and maintain good orchard hygiene to prevent fruit rot.
  • It is recommended to spray Chlorothanlonil (0.2%) and Bavistin (1%) four times every 15 days.
Cigar end tip rot
Damage symptoms
  • An immature finger can develop black necrosis at the tip of the perianth.
  • A rotted banana finger appears like ash from a cigar and tends to adhere to fruits.
Chemical control and management
  • Hand removal of pistils and perianths 8-10 days after bunch formation, followed by spraying with Dithane M-45 (0.1%) or Topsin M (0.1%), effectively controls the disease.
Bunchy top/curly top
Diseases Symptoms
  • Along the leaf veins, dark green streaks will form on the petioles and midribs.
  • The leaves are reduced in size, chlorotic, standing upright and brittle, crowded at the top (bunchy top), and have dark green streaks near the midrib.
  • Discoloration of flowers is mottled and streaked
  • Stunted plants are evident
Chemical control and management
  • Spray Metasystox (0.1-0.5%) on the aphids to control the disease spread. Additionally, healthy plants should be sprayed next to unhealthy ones.
  • The affected plant should be killed using kerosene or herbicides like 2, 4-D or 2, 4, 5-T. After digging out the rhizome, it should be cut into small sections and sprayed again to prevent suckers from developing.

Pests in Yelakki banana

Rhizome Weevil
Damage symptoms
  • The tunnels can extend several feet up the stem in severe cases. Corms decay and become rotten masses of tissue as a result.
  • A damaged corm prevents nourishment from reaching the plant. This causes leaves to turn yellow, wither, and die. As a result, production is low in heavily infected plantations.
  • Adults feed on dead or dying banana plants, living under freshly cut or rotting pseudostems.
Chemical Control and management :
  • Adult beetles migrate into these stems and can be collected by hand and poisoned before planting, dipping suckers in Monocrotophos (0.5%) for 30 minutes to protect the rhizome from weevil attack.

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Yelakki Banana Plant
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Banana Aphid
Damage symptoms
  • The insect is the vector of the virus causing bunchy top disease. Yellowish-green nymphs and adults suck cell sap and devitalize plants.
  • Affected parts become discolored and malformed. High humidity favors the rapid multiplication of this pest.
  • The aphids are mostly observed on the lower surface of the leaves.
Chemical  control and management:
  • Spraying of Monocrotophos (0.05%) or Malathion (0.1%) at 10-15 days intervals contains aphid population effectively.
  • To prevent the recurrence of the pest, granular insecticides like Phorate at 1.0 kg a.i./ha should be applied to the soil.
  • Spray methyl demeton 25 EC 0.05%
Burrowing Nematode
Damage symptoms
  • Dark spots appear on the root as the first symptom of the disease. This is because nematode eggs are deposited in the root tissue. Larvae feed on the root tissue. In such damaged root tissues, fungi rapidly invade.
  • The number of fruits in the bunch is reduced, and individual fruits are small. In addition, affected plants do not respond to fertilizers, irrigation, or cultural practices.
Chemical Control and management
  • Carbofuran 3G or Phorate 10G at 10 grams per pit or neem cake (250-400 grams per pit) can be applied when planting to reduce the pest population.
  • Nematicides can be applied to infected plants, and fallow soil can be planted with nematode-free corms.
  • Three applications of Phenamiphos can control the nematodes.

Harvesting Banana

  • Banana stalks need 90 to 120 days to develop from flower production to mature fruit.
  • The signs of maturity of banana fruits are that fruit becomes plump and changes in color from deep green to light green.
  • Also, after the banana ripens, the fruit generally will look smoother or plumper and change from a square or sharp angular shape in cross-section to a more rounded shape.
  • The yield of the banana depends on the temperature, variety, moisture, and culture practices
  • Bananas are harvested by cutting down the whole tree.
  • Bananas should be stored in a cool, shady area and not refrigerated once harvested.
  • The tree should be cut back by about a foot after harvesting and allowed to dry out so that the plants can grow again after harvesting

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Yelakki Banana Fruit
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Post-harvest operations include curing, washing, grading, packaging, storing, transporting, marketing, etc. A variety of factors are taken into account when grading, including size, color, and maturity. Fruits that are small, overripe, damaged, or diseased should be removed. Generally, fruits are harvested at a pre-mature stage early in the season to capture markets. A lower dose of Ethrel is then used to ripen mature fruits to ensure uniform color development.


There is no doubt that banana cultivation is one of India’s most profitable agriculture businesses. The new trend in banana cultivation is tissue culture bananas, which lowers the risk and increases production. Assam, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka are among the states where this Yelakki banana is grown.


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