Banana cultivation is one of the most popular fruit as it grows all-round the year irrespective of other fruits, which are usually seasonal in nature. Fertile soil is important for its cultivation, so it is best grown in volcanic and alluvial soils. Bananas are rich in antioxidants, magnesium, and vitamin C.
The other nutrients found in the fruit are vitamin B6, protein, dietary fiber, riboflavin, niacin, iron, etc. This fruit is good for heart health as it protects against the blood pressure fluctuations because of its potassium content.
It also helps in treating depression as magnesium helps in relaxation of muscles and Vitamin B6 helps to sleep well. Other advantageous benefits of banana consumption include weight loss, vision improvement, improvement of digestion, stronger bones, etc.
Propagation and Planting of Bananas
Banana is propagated through tissue cultures which are developed in the laboratories and these yield highly and suckers developed by rhizomes and may take a year to form a fully mature banana.
Two types of suckers develop on banana plants, but only one type works well to produce a new plant. When leaves begin to appear on the suckers, look for the one that develop straight, thin leaves initially instead of the one that develop broad leaves. Choosing straight thin leaved sucker over broad leaved suckers produces both thicker pseudo stems and larger fruit yields.
The recommended banana spacing is 3m by 3m.The hole dug should be 3ft by 3ft. Mix 1 bucket of manure with the top soil removed and fill the hole again with the mixture.
Plant the sucker right at the middle of the hole. Irrigation is necessary for the young sucker to enhance its survival. Do not plant when it has over rained or when the winter is severe. Bananas require a lot of water but when drainage is poor they are prone to rotting.
Care and Maintenance of Bananas
Bananas are associated with or require little care for them to reach full maturity. The following basic management skills will maximize production of the plant.
- Fertilize with a balanced compound fertilizer after you notice the first flush of leaves and ensure it is applied some few centimeter’s away from the plant to avoid tissue burn. Bananas require a lot of potassium. The rate of application should be after every three months.
- A bucket of well decomposed manure should be put and should be thoroughly mixed with top soil around the plant and should be put after every six months.
- Weeding must be done once the weeds sprout. The field should always be clean.
- Mulching will ensure water is conserved.
- Water frequently. Ensure the soil moisture levels are at the desired levels.
- When the plant reaches maturity remove all the excessive suckers remaining with a single sucker that will follow its mother plant. This will even ensure uniformity while harvesting.
- Support the plant to avoid toppling due to weight or strong winds.
Harvesting of Bananas
First the flower will form and then the fingers will come out with the flowers dangling down. The bananas will have a defined ridge when they are still young and green.as they begin to mature, the fruit will become plump and fill out into the ridges.
They turn from dark green to light green to yellow and remember not all will turn yellow but still as they ripen they are very sweet.
Harvesting can be done at the light green stage or at the yellow stage (ripening stage)
NB. To AVOID diseases like fusarium wilt, banana bract mosaic virus, banana streak disease, infectious chlorosis CMV, ensure your suckers and tissue culture bananas come from certified nurseries.