3. Planting Planting Material
The best way is to start with tissue culture plantlets. Tissue culture plantlets are recommended for planting because suckers, in general, are infected with some soil-borne pathogen and nematodes. Tissue culture plantlets are healthy, pest and disease free, uniform and shorter harvesting period. Suckers on the contrary are not uniform and have a rather longer-harvesting period thus management of the plantation can be somewhat wearisome.
Tissue culture Bananas can be planted throughout the year.
Nutrients Required By Bananas
Bananas need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium with a ratio of 3:1:6 and other micronutrients to ensure the plants grow vigorously.
The most economical and efficient spacing is 1.82m x 1.52m with 3,630 plants per hectare (a wide spacing of 1.82 m between rows). The diagram below provides a good indication of how the plants should be planted: -
However, the above spacing is only possible with fertigation. Bananas can be planted with higher density at 1.5m x 1.5 m but yields are poor due to competition for sunlight. The recommended spacing is at 2.0m x 2.5m with 2,000 plants per hectare since that is the standard distance to minimize Sigatoka.
Planting Method20% of perlite should be mixed with the soil for optimal growth. Depending on the soil quality, one must apply the appropriate method as well as the depth and spacing at which plants are required to be planted.
Step 1: Mark the spots where the plants will be planted. Avoid marking and planting as you go because any oversight may lead to uneven spread of the Bananas. The best method to avoid this from happening is to use a long measuring tape.
Step 2: Dig a hole with a foot in diameter and ten (10) to twelve (12) inches deep and place the plants in the hole keeping the pseudo-stem 1 inch below the ground level.
Step 3: Toss a small amount of fertilizer into the hole to boost the growth of the plant and fill the hole with soil. Soil around the plant should be tramped down firmly to remove air pockets.
4. Maintenance Fertilising
Important note: Apply fertilizer one (1) inch away from the leaf and not directly on the stem of the plant for best result. It is known that Banana roots grow approximately an inch everyday (at an optimal growth). On sloping terrain, apply fertilizer only on the up hill side.
Mulch is primarily used to modify the effects of the local climate. A wide variety of natural and synthetic materials are used. The most easily available and cheaper material would be saw dust. It is best applied when the plants are still young to encourage faster growth. The benefit of using mulch is that it conserves soil moisture (blocking evaporation of water from the soil) and keeps soil cool as they block direct sunlight exposure. It also slows down the growth of weeds as it blocks the weeds from receiving sunlight thus minimizing labor work.
The mulch should be kept at least 50 cm from the base of the plant as it generates heat when decomposing. This practice is known to reduce fungal diseases while improving soil texture and adding nutrients to the soil. Generally, mulch is only required to be applied once as mature plantation is self mulching i.e. dead Banana leafs and trunks are removed and left behind as naturally mulch.
Keep the plantation weed free. Banana plants grow notably slower with the presence of weeds because partial of the water and nutrients are absorbed by the weeds. Five (5) or six (6) manual weedings should suffice after which the growth of weeds is rather impossible when Banana plants reached mature size. Alternatively, mulching is advisable to reduce the growth of weed.
5. Water Management Water Management – Fertigation
Generally, Bananas require a minimum of 2000 – 2500 mm annually or 25 mm per week. Deep watering is necessary during draught to help leach the soil of salt. It is common that Banana plants do not bear fruit if it lack of water. Whilst Bananas require large amount of water; do not over water them. Excessive water will cause roots to rot – Banana roots are poor withdrawal of water.
(22 Muharam 1435H)