School Science Lessons
Please send comments to:

Banana Project
Websites: Bananas
Table of contents
1.1 Bananas

1.2 Varieties

1.3 Terminology

2.0 Leaf

5.0 Corm

5.5 Banana rhizome

6.0 Roots

7.0 Inflorescence

8.0 Banana project

9.0 Prepare ground

10.0 Planting material

11.0 Planting
11.1 Banana plantlets

12.0 Plant care

12.6 Fertilizing

13.0 Insect pests

14.0 Diseases

15.0 Fruit bunch

16.0 Harvesting

17.0 Banana ripening

18.0 Diet

18.1 Green banana flour

19.0 At home

6.20.0 Records

2.0 Leaf
2.0 Leaf
3.0 Leaf growth
4.0 False stem (pseudostem)

12.0 Plant care
12.0 Plant care
12.1 Bunch covering
12.2 De-suckering
12.3 Mulching
12.4 Propping
12.5 Trashing & debelling
12.7 Weeding
12.8 Watering
12.9 Desuckering
12.10 Bunch trimming
12.11 Bagging
12.12 Bell Removal

13.0 Insect pests
Plant protection, pests and diseases
13.0 Insect pests
13.1 Banana root nematode, Radopholus similis
13.2 Banana weevil borer, banana root borer, "banana beetle", Cosmopolites sordidus
13.3 Banana scab moth, Nacoleia octasema

14.0 Diseases
14.0 Diseases
14.1 Banana bunchy top virus, BBTV
14.2 Panama disease (Fusarium wilt), Fusarium oxysporum
20.0 Panama Disease, The State of Queensland (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries), 2010-2015
14.3 Black sigatoka disease
14.4 Comparing bacterial wilt and fusarium wilt

1.1 Village bananas and cultivated bananas
| See diagram 51.1: Cultivated banana, typical village banana plant
| See diagram 51.4: Wild bananas, cultivated banana, plantain
| Banana varieties, Daley's Fruit Trees
Bananas can be grown on atolls but it needs special care to make them grow well.
The aim of this project is to show how to increase the yield of bananas and grow bananas for profit.
You will need examples of village and cultivated bananas or use the diagrams.
There are hundreds of different kinds of bananas
but in this it is important that you teach the difference between traditional, (wild), bananas and cultivated bananas, Musa acuminata.
What are the different kinds of bananas used at home? What are the different uses of village bananas?
There are two main kinds of bananas, traditional bananas and cultivated bananas.
Traditional bananas grow wild and are easy to grow.
Cultivated bananas were introduced from other countries.
They are harder to grow but they produce more fruit.
Cultivated bananas may be quite different from traditional or village bananas.
They may be genetically different.
They may have higher yield than village bananas if they are fertilized and cared for properly.

Table 1. Differences between traditional and cultivated bananas
1. Traditional bananas
Many hundreds of varieties
Can grow on poor soils
Are easy to grow
Get less pests and diseases
Better taste
Some have no fruit
Some have red juice
Some fruit contain seeds
Leaves stiff and grow upright
Smaller plant, not last a long time
Smaller fruit bunch, some upright
Leafy bracts over fruit red underneath
Few black marks on a false stem
Canal through the petiole closed
2. Cultivated bananas Few varieties (cultivars), e.g. Cavendish, Gros Michel, Lady Finger
Need good soils
Can be difficult to grow
Get more pests and diseases
Not so tasty
All have big fruit
None have red juice
No fruit contain seeds
Leaves hang down
Larger plant, lasts a long time
Larger fruit bunch, all hang down
Leaf bracts over fruit yellow underneath
Many black marks on a false stem
Canal through the petiole open.

1.2 Varieties
Bananas may have originated in Malaysia, but in 327 BC Alexander the Great took some back to Europe.
Arab people took them to Africa, and Spanish or Portuguese people took them to North America.
Musa acuminata ssp. banksii, one of original wild species before cultivated varieties, Australian native food, fruit not well developed but trunk eaten after cooking on hot stones, Australia, Musaceae. 1. Cavendish variety, British Lord Cavendish grew them in Kew Gardens, London, now about 95% of bananas in Australia.
"Pacific Coast Eco Bananas" produces a Cavendish variety, grown with minimum chemicals and fruit ends dipped in hot wax. Musaceae.
See diagram: "Eco bananas"
2. Lady Finger variety, (Sugar banana, Sucrier, Ninos, Bocadillos, fig banana, date banana)
See diagram: Lady Finger variety
The smaller, sweeter "Lady Finger" banana, 4% of the Australian market, suitable for fruit salads because they do not go brown when cut.
Skin is thin and flesh is very sweet, 12 - 20 fingers on each hand, each bunch with 10-14 hands.
Best eaten fresh or used in desserts because they are much sweeter than Cavendish, similar variety is "Goldfinger", Musaceae.
3. Ducasse variety, has superior flavour to other varieties, keeps its shape during cooking, but soft skin speckled with a grey white mould
so when ripe the skin is black, Musaceae.
4. Dwarf Ducasse variety, Musa acuminata, small-sized fruit on small plant, suits backyard growers, fruits creamy texture and a sweet,
fragrant flavour, eat fresh or cook green, sold as rhizome, Musaceae.
See diagram: Dwarf Ducasse variety
5. Pisang Ceylan variety (Pisang Ceylon), Musa acuminata, attractive plant, maroon and black markings on leaves, sweet, silky dessert fruit
with creamy texture, popular in India, sold as rhizome, Musaceae.
See diagram: Pisang Ceylon variety
6. Red Dacca variety, Musa acuminata, red-skinned, deep maroon-red skin when ripe, eaten fresh or baked, fried, dried and toasted,
has more beta carotene and vitamin C than yellow bananas, sold as rhizome, Musaceae.
See diagram: Red Dacca variety
7. Williams variety, Musa acuminata, sweet, delicious fruit in large bunches, wind- resistant, cold hardy, same cultivar as Giant Cavendish,
but from mutation of Dwarf Cavendish banana in Queensland, Australia, prefers temperatures above 18oC, sold as rhizome, Musaceae.
See diagram: Williams variety
8. Plantains, cooking bananas, are varieties of the genus Musa, Pacific Plantain variety, Musa � paradisiaca, green, cooking bananas important
world staple food, more starch, less sugar than dessert varieties, boil or fry until caramelize and turn golden-brown, peeled or unpeeled baked
or grilled, pulp hard and peel stiff so remove with knife, Musaceae.
See diagram: Pacific Plantain.

1.3 Terminology
The "Debelling" is cutting off the banana flower, called the "bell".
A "finger" is a single banana fruit.
A "finger stalk" is the stalk attaching the finger to the hand.
A "hand" is a cluster of bananas from a single flower group at a node forming a section of the bunch because bananas grow in layers
around the stalk.
A" bunch" is the whole flowering stem (inflorescence), bearing hands, fruit clusters, of several fingers of fruit.
So a bunch with nine layers of bananas is called a "nine hand bunch".
When marketing bananas, a bunch is called a "stem".

2.0 Leaf
See diagram 51.2: Banana leaf
You will need a banana leaf in the classroom, or take students outside to see a banana plant.
Draw a whole banana leaf and include the following four parts:
1. The large flat leaf blade, the lamina, that has many small veins that run close together.
2. The thick strong middle of the leaf, the midrib.
3. The strong leaf stalk, the petiole, that holds the leaf up to the sun.
4. The thick elongated part of the leaf stalk, the leaf sheath.
The end of the leaf sheath is the leaf base.
A leaf will stop it making food by photosynthesis if:
1. strong winds blow the leaf off the plant
2. the leaf is eaten by insects or other animals
3. the leaf is killed by a disease
4. a creeper or vine grows over a leaf and stops the sun shining on it.
The leaf edges may tear or break in a strong wind.
This does not hurt the leaf much.
When a leaf is old, it may have many breaks in it.
The banana leaf is designed to tear along the veins.
Three is some evidence that photosynthesis by the leaf increases after mild tearing and the parts of the leaf are flapping in the wind.
However, severely torn leaves may cause desiccation of the plant.

3.0 Leaf growth
See diagram 51.3: Growth of banana plant
You will need a banana plant in the classroom, or take the students to see a banana plant.
The banana plant needs 8 to 9 green leaves before it will make the flowers that turn into the fruit.
New leaves are made as the older leaves die and hang down.
Note the number of leaves on a banana plant.
Record the length and width of some big leaves.
The banana "tree" is really a collection of big leaves.
The leaf stalks, petioles, of the leaves wrap around each other to form a false stem, pseudostem.
The real stem and roots are underground.
The youngest leaf grows up through the middle of the plant.
At first, the leaf is rolled up but later it opens and hangs down.
Later, a flowering stem, inflorescence, grows up from the underground item.
The flowering stem grows out the top in the middle of the plant, turns down and produces flowers and fruit.
After the flowering stem appears, no more leaves can grow.
From the underground stem buds grow to form new shoots, suckers.
Suckers grow to form the next "trees".

4.0 False stem (pseudostem)
See diagram 51.3: Leaf bases
The false stem of bananas may be called a "pseudostem".
You will need an old banana stem that has died or a stem from which the bunch of fruit has been cut.
Use an axe or a bush knife to cut off a piece of this stem about 30 cm long.
Be careful!
Spiders and other animals that can bite you may be living in the false stem!
The "stem" is really a collection of leaf bases wrapped around each other, so it is a " false stem" (pseudostem).
It is the "trunk" of the "tree".
Draw the cut end of a stem.
See the leaf bases wrapped around each other.
Take off the leaf sheaths or leaf bases one by one until you can see there is no stem inside.
You may see a small hard piece of the flower stalk in the centre.

5.0 Corm
See diagram 51.5: Banana corm (VS, vertical section)
You will need a corm of an old banana plant
The true stem of the banana plant is an underground stem, a rhizome.
The thick part is the corm.
The corm makes shoots that grow into branches or other corms.
New plants come from these shoots.
The branches and suckers grow very close together to form a clump, a rootstock with many shoots.
It is difficult to see the shape of the corm so cut off a piece of corm by putting a spade or a bush knife
between a strong sucker and the side of the main plant.
Wash it and cut off some roots.

5.5 Banana rhizome
See diagram 51.2: Banana.
The "stem" of the banana is a false stem (pseudostem).
The true stem is an underground stem, a rhizome.
The swollen stem base is a corm with very short internodes.
The corm makes shoots that grow into branches or other corms.
New plants come from these shoots.
Suckers grow from the dormant buds, the "eyes" on the corm.
Each sucker formed is higher than the corm it came from.
When the land is sloping, the suckers are usually formed on the uphill side, so generations of banana plants will gradually
move up a hill.

6.0 Roots
Just before the class, you will need to cut off a piece of corm with roots.
The roots of the banana plant are shallow, not deep in the soil.
The plant can be easily blown over by a strong wind.
Do not dig deeply close to the plant because you may cut the shallow roots.
Cutting off weeds with a bush knife is better than trying to dig them out deeply and damaging the roots.
Roots near the surface of the soil may become dry if there is no rain.
So use as mulch dead leaves and dead grass on top of soil to keep the surface soil moist.
Dig around the growing corm to find some shallow roots.

7.0 Inflorescence
See diagram 51.7.1: Banana inflorescence, "flower"
| See diagram 51.7.2: Banana flower, male flower
| See diagram 51.7.3: Female flower and fruit
| See diagram 51.7.4: Succulant fruit - berry, Wild banana, Cultivated banana
The inflorescence is the arrangement of flowers on their axis and to each other.
You will need a banana plant with fruit on it.
If there is no fruit ready to see, teach this later when the fruit bunch is growing up.
The axis of the flowering stem, inflorescence, is the stalk.
The flowers are covered by purple bracts, small leaves or leaf scales that lift then shed as the flower grows.
The flowering stem before the bracts have lifted is the "bud".
Individual flowers appear and develop from bisexual flowers to male or female flowers by losing their male or female organs.
The female flowers develop into the clusters of seedless fruits without need of pollination.
The male flower is at the end of the stalk, with a thin leaf like covering, is the "bell" ("flower", "navel").
The female flowers further up the stalk become banana fruit.
When the fruit is very small, it is angular and does not have much stored food inside.
The curve of long fruits occurs because the fruit tip grows upward against the downward pull of gravity.
The usual stage for cutting for transporting some distance to market or for export is green fruit with the
angles still just showing.
When the angles have disappeared, the fruit is at the " round full bunch" stage and should be eaten soon.

8.0 Banana project Site
Discuss the site for a banana project with the school principal, local community and a field officer of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Prepare to first take the students to several unsuitable places then take them to see the place you have already chosen for planting the
1. The banana is a tropical plant and benefits from moderate heat, adequate moisture and protection from wind.
Bananas flourish best when they receive full sunlight for most of the day.
A warm sheltered spot with a north to easterly aspect protected from cold westerly and southerly winds should be selected.
The minimum temperature for growth is 14oC.
Frosts will kill the leaves and sometimes plants.
Periods of cold weather with temperatures below 13oC will cause chilling injury to fruit.
The fruit then develop a dull appearance.
The leaves of plants affected by cold conditions (< 10oC to 12oC), can turn yellow and bunch size is reduced.

2. The place you choose for the banana project should have the following properties:
2.1 Be near the school, on flat land or land sloping towards the North
2.2 Water table is not too deep because you will plant about 1 metre above the water table
2.3 Sunny all day, not shaded by big trees
2.4 Sheltered from strong winds, e.g. sheltered but not shaded by buildings or trees
2.5 Annual rainfall more than 1200 mm during 12 months
2.6 Deep soil with plenty of plant nutrients, not sandy soils or clay soil
2.7 Soil pH between 5 and 6.3.
2.8 Choose land that has not grown bananas for two years to avoid by pests and diseases left behind by the old banana plants.
Do not use land that has wild bananas growing on it or where there are dead banana plants.

3. Clear the bush two months before planting but leave some trees on the windy side as a windbreak, or plant Leucaena.
On the flat land the bush should be burnt but this may cause soil erosion from rain on sloping land so leave some plant cover there.
Plant a cover crop to protect the soil and shade any grass and weeds, e.g. cowpea, pigeon pea, velvet bean, Crotalaria, Pueraria.
Plant at least 4 m apart, but planting distances depends on the fertility of the soil and on the size of the variety.
Ask the Ministry of Agriculture for advice on planting distance.
Plants should be grown closer on fertilized or richer soils and further apart on unfertilized or poorer soils.

4. In some places you are not allowed to plant bananas near houses or dormitories because some people say they attract mosquitoes.
On atolls, the side of an old pit for swamp taro (Cyrtosperma), is a good place or you can dig a special planting hole in another place.
You may find a suitable place sheltered by coconuts, or by a house, or by bushes on the lagoon side of an atoll.
The exposed windy side of an atoll near the ocean is not a good place.

5. Banana plants grow best in well-drained, not swampy, deep soil that has good moisture retention and is rich in plant foods and
organic matter.
Light sandy soils require considerable mulching to improve water retention, and nutrients are quickly leached from this type of soil.
Although bananas like ample water, they will not tolerate waterlogging.
Roots start to die after an hour in flooded soils.
Examples of planting distances
Variety, Distance apart on the square
Dwarf Cavendish, 2 m
Giant Cavendish, 3 m
Mons Mari, 3 m Williams, 3 m Lady Finger, 4 m.

9.0 Prepare ground
See diagram 51.9: Planting banana
You will need digging tools, bush knives, compost, fine black soil, dead leaves, coconut husks.
Prepare ground well in advance.
Choose a wind-protected, full-sun position with fertile soil, rich in organic matter, well-drained, not compacted, and pH about 6.5.
Get advice from the Ministry of Agriculture about using chemical herbicides for preparing ground, e.g. glyphosate weedicide.
Clear the land around the planting places, cutting down weeds and bushes.
The ground should become "clean weeded" no weeds at all.
Dig the holes about 3 - 5 m apart and 60 cm or 2 spade blades deep and wide, or 300 mm square and 250 mm deep.
Fill the bottom of the planting hole with coconut husks and dead leaves and some fine sand.
They must push the sand down into the spaces between the husks so the soil is quite firm.
Fill with rotten compost and legume cover crops, e.g. cowpea or Crotalaria, because organic matter increases beneficial
micro-organisms in the soil
If you leave the holes open, make sure that people do not fall into them.
On top of this put a small heap of compost mixed with fine black soil.
The planting material will be planted into this soil and compost mixture.
Add some pig manure or sprinkle a matchbox full of mixed fertilizer.
Add 200 g dolomite and 150 g fertilizer, e.g. "Nitrophoska" or "Rustica", thoroughly into the soil.
Irrigate thoroughly for a few days prior to planting.
However banana plants love water but they hate wet feet, so mound the soil up and then dig a hole so the plant will be higher than the
surrounding ground, to minimize water pooling around the base and drowning the roots.

10.0 Planting material
See diagram 51.10: Planting material, bit, peeper, sucker
You will need a large plant to show how to cut off the different kinds of planting material.
Try to obtain planting material from agricultural officers or a tissue culture laboratory.
The planting material must be clean.
It should not have any holes or spots on it due to insects or disease.
The different kinds of planting material, sets:
1. Pieces of corm ("bits"), each have a bud ("eye").
A bit is a piece of the rhizome or short underground stem of the plant trimmed to a single mature bud or eye.
To obtain bits for planting, select a well grown healthy plant that is at least 6 months old and has not bunched.
Remove the plant roots from the rhizome, split the rhizome and attached pseudostem (plant stem)
in sections in such a way that each piece has a prominent centrally placed eye.
Bits must be planted in the soil the same way up as it was when cut off.
Bits grow slowly.
2. Get a whole banana plant and identify the different kinds of suckers.
2.1 Water suckers are small plants with broad leaves that will not produce well.
2.2 Sword suckers, arrowheads, have long thin first leaves that are more vigorous and more productive.
Chose suckers growing against the mother plant, not growing away from it.
Cut suckers away from the mother plant by pushing a spade or knife down between the sucker and the main stem.
A sucker is an offshoot from the parent plant.
The best suckers are about 45 to 60 cm tall, or up to 1 metre high and at least 15 cm across, and have narrow "sword" leaves.
Small suckers with spindly stems and broad, flattened leaves lack vigour and should not be used for planting.
Suckers with broad leaves, "water shoots", are useless for planting and should be removed and burnt.
If small suckers, "peepers", must be used for planting material, they must include a piece of corm at the bottom.
3. To transplant larger suckers, cut off all but six of the large green leaves.
4. For trimming the suckers, use a large with a sharp knife to remove the roots so that you can see the white corm.
Use a small knife to cut out any red brown spots or tunnels caused by pests.
Work quickly because the cut corm will darken in the air so you cannot see the spots.
5. Store the planting material in a shady, dry place, e.g. under a house.
Leave the suckers there for four days until the cut surface of the corms have healed over.
If the sucker is planted soon after it is cut off, the corm may rot and die.
6. To avoid pests and disease, use tissue-cultured plantlets from accredited nurseries that meet strict pest free and disease hygiene
7. Draw the different kinds of planting material.

11.0 Planting
11.1 Banana plantlets
See diagram 51.9: Planting banana
1. In southern Queensland, the best time to plant is from September to mid December when rain is more common.
Bananas are usually planted at the beginning of the wet season, but can be planted all year round.
2. The bunch of fruit will be ready for harvest in about 9-10 months.
The first crop after planting is the "plant crop".
Later crops from the suckers are the "ratoon crops".
3. When planting, dig a hole about 300 mm square and 250 mm deep.
Place some well composted poultry manure and loose soil in the hole
and then insert the planting piece so that the junction of the corm and pseudostem of the sucker
or bit is about 150 mm below the soil level.
On sloping sites, the eye should be placed on the uphill side.
The hole should then be filled with soil and tramped down firmly.
4. Make a hole in the heap of good soil and compost in the middle of the planting.
Hold the top of the sucker when you have put it in the hole.
The bottom of the sucker should be 12 cm below the soil surface.
Fill in the soil around the sucker.
Put more soil around the stem.
Put dead leaves on top of the soil all around the sucker.
Make sure there is a hole at the top of the planting place so that rain and water will run down to the sucker.
Tread on the soil around the sucker to make the soil firm.
Water the soil around the sucker.
However, water should be applied sparingly after planting until the plants begin to grow.
If too much water is applied during this period the planting piece may rot.
Plants are usually spaced 2 m apart, to allows for plenty of sunshine, whilst still enabling you to tie them together for support if
If a large bunch is hanging off a plant, it tends to lean over and may fall over, so it has to be tied to a sturdy structure, or propped.
5. Plant one sucker first as demonstration then students plant the other suckers.
6. Avoiding planting in hot, wet weather to avoid rotting in the planting material.
7. During dry weather plant small suckers or bits in bags or pots and water them every few days for the first two weeks until the root
systems are established.
These potted plants will be stronger and will establish more quickly when they are planted out in the banana garden.
8. Before planting, the land must be well prepared to ensure food soil contact well and have good drainage as from deep ripping.
9. If suckers and bits are planted in moist soil in the days after good rain, no more water is needed until the shoots emerge.
However, in dry areas apply 25 - 50 mm of irrigation soon after planting.
10. Larger planting pieces give better strikes, however the larger pieces have more than one "eye" so the emerging extra shoots must
later be cut out.
11. Leave cut surfaces to air dry for 1-2 days in the shade and form a seal, to avoid cut surfaces on suckers and bits being infected
by soil organisms and rot.
Keep soil away from the cut surfaces.
12. Plant suckers at 15 cm of soil depth to ensure adequate soil moisture until shoots emerge.
After covering suckers or bits, firm down the soil with the foot, to improve contact between soil and the planting material.
Divide the base of banana plants into "bits" for propagating new banana plants, with each "bit" having an eye from which the shoot
Alternatively, use suckers taken from the side of the clump for establishing new plants.
13. Bury the plant almost halfway up the stem to discourage suckers from emerging too early and ensures the mother plant is secure
so that the suckers don't pull the plant up out of the ground.
14. Immediately after planting, tissue culture plantlets are at their most vulnerable because their potting medium is light and the root
system is very concentrated, but plants become more stable after about a week, once the roots have spread into the surrounding wet
soil which should remain moist.
15. Leaf wetting to keep the leaves wet for as long as possible is done at this stage for alleviating stress, because evaporating water
cools the leaves, enabling them to photosynthesize at maximum efficiency.
The tender leaves will wilt and fold very easily during the heat of the day and they may even burn and die back if conditions are severe.
The entire leaf area should be gently wetted by the irrigation system for about 5 minutes, three times a day, between 10 am and 5 pm.
This should continue for about 3 weeks until the root system takes over, the leaves harden off and normal transpiration begins.

13. More tips for striking bananas from "bits" and "suckers"
13.1. Avoid planting in hot, wet conditions, as these conditions promote rotting in the planting material.
The drier months of the early spring are the best.
13.2. Plant bananas at other times of the year by potting them.
Plant small suckers or bits in bags or pots.
Water them every 1-3 days for the first two weeks until the root system is well established.
The potted plants are stronger and establish more quickly after planting.
13.3. Prepare land with good drainage.
Deep ripping before planting improves the drainage of the soil.
Work the soil needs only until it is fine enough to get good contact with most of the planting material.
13.4. Suckers and bits have the best chance of establishment if planted in moist soil a few days after rain, or apply 25 - 50 mm of
irrigation immediately after planting.
No further water should be required until the shoots have emerged.
13.5. Larger planting pieces give better strikes.
The larger the sucker or bit, the more reliable the emergence of shoots.
However, larger pieces usually have more than one "eye" so the extra shoots which emerge need to be thinned out later.
13.6. Allow cut surfaces to air-dry for 1-2 days, but not in the sun because they could dry out too much.
The cut surfaces on suckers and bits can allow infection by soil organisms, causing rotting.
Drying them out a little allows the cut surface to form a "shellac-like" seal, which protects the planting piece against rot-causing
Keep dirt away from the cut surfaces to reduce the risk of infection.
13.7. Plant suckers and bits to about 15 cm of soil depth, deep enough to ensure adequate soil moisture until shoots emerge.
After covering suckers or bits, the soil should be firmed down with the foot, to improve contact between soil and the planting material.
13.8 Plant tissue culture bananas up to their "neck" in the ground.
The "neck" is just below where the leaves start to branch out.
This planting method reduces any problems with plant stability when they started suckering.
13.9 Soil is still hot from the compost-making may kill initial Lady Finger plants.

12.0 Plant care
See diagram 51.3: Growth, First generation, Second generation, Third generation, i.e. one stem maturing, one follower, one sucker
Encourage students to visit the banana project each day and note any problems.
Get advice from the Ministry of Agriculture about using chemical herbicides for weeding, e.g. glyphosate weedicide.
Take the students to see some growing bananas.
Show them different ways to care for bananas and ask them why they should be done.
In some places it is not the custom of the people to do all these things.
The people may feel that the plants can look after themselves.
However, commercial banana growers say that in the first three to four months, bananas need lots of care, soil moisture and fertilizer
for the best growth and fruit production.
This will increase the weight of the first bunch and how many "hands" the banana will have.
Give the plants water, especially when they are young and when there is no rain.

12.1 Bunch covering
Bunch covers, banana bags, are made of blue plastic.
They let the fruit ripen evenly and protect the fruit from insects, flying foxes, tree rats and birds.
Cut a hole in the bottom to let the water out.
Place the blue plastic bunch cover around the bunch of fruit when the fruit turns upwards and the last hand is visible.
Bunch covers help to increase the weight and improve the quality of the fruit by avoiding blemishes.
Also, the bunch cover may hold in ethylene close to the fruit to accelerate fruit ripening.
Bunch covers protect the fruit from bird, wind and sun damage, improve its quality and increase the yield.
However they can encourage other pests such as rats, mealy bugs and scale to create nests within the bunch.
The other problem with the commercial covers is that you cannot see through them.

12.2 De-suckering
| See diagram 51.13.1: A stool of bananas
| See diagram 51.13.2: Different types of suckers
| See diagram Suckering cycles
The best way to teach the importance of this procedure is to take students to see stands of bananas that have been de-suckered and
stands that have not been de-suckered.
Alternatively you could set up a trial where you divide your banana project into two and de-sucker only half the bananas to show the
difference in yield.
If the banana plant is just left alone, it will soon be surrounded by many suckers.
These suckers will compete with the mother plant for water and plant food and so the fruit formed by the mother plant will be very
All the useless suckers should be cut out before they get too big.
If you do this, you will have a "stool" or group of bananas that never has more than four plants in it:
1. One large plant one bearing fruit
2. One smaller plant but the next to bear fruit
3. One medium-sized sucker, and
4. One small sucker.
5. To make sure that have only one or two strong suckers for the next generation, allow only one new sucker to grow every three
Two strong sword suckers should be selected to bear fruit for the next crop.
One of these can be allowed to grow for the new crop ("follower crop"), when the main stem starts to flower.
The other can be cut out for planting in another project.
The other suckers should be cut out with a digging bar and separated from the root after they are more than 30 cm tall.
6. Use a sharp knife to cut the unwanted suckers off at ground level, scrape out the remains of the sucker and pour in a teaspoon of
It must be done when the suckers are very small.
Cutting the tops of the suckers is useless because they will just grow again.
The whole sucker and its bit of corm must be cut away from the mother plant.
De-suckering must be done each month.
Some village people refuse to de-sucker their bananas because they may not bother about it or they believe that they should not like
to kill things if there is no need to do so.
How would you explain to villagers about the need for de-suckering?
You could say that having lots of suckers is like having too many chickens feeding from one small tin.
7. As the parent plant grows, it will produce several suckers around its base.
It is important to allow only one of these followers to remain, but two suckers may be left on each parent if the planting is very
After the desired follower has been selected, all other sucker growth arising from the parent plant should be removed as soon as
possible after it appears.
8. The easiest way to permanently remove unwanted suckers is to cut them off at ground level with a sharp knife.
A small hollow should then be gouged in the centre of the cut surface with the point of the knife and a teaspoon of kerosene should be
poured into the cavity.
This kills the sucker.
The follower should be selected when the parent is about three quarters grown in the spring or early summer.
9. Cut off the flower bell 100 mm below the last hand to increase fruit size.
Do this once all the banana hands have set fruit.
Leave only the two strongest suckers.
If only one sucker with one banana bunch on the mother tree gives a large bunch.
However, if all the suckers are left, the smaller bunches are easier to handle.

12.3 Mulching
Mulching retains moisture, cuts down on weed growth, and helps the plant absorb the fertilizer better.
Make mulch by chopping the older banana leaves, banana stalks and plants harvested and cut down.
The composted banana leaves and plants will add potassium to the soil.
Use discarded parts of banana plants as long as they do not have pests or diseases attached to them.
Also, use well-rotted manure, straw, lawn clippings.
However, the mulch should be kept at least 50 cm from the base of the plant.
This practice should deter the banana weevil borer from attacking the plants and possibly reduce the incidence of fungal diseases.

12.4 Propping
Propping is to place a prop under the stalk of a hand of fruit because sometimes the bunch is too heavy for the plant.
Place the prop after the last hand of fruit has formed.
Props can be made from two poles crossed about 50 cm from each end to form an X shape and bound together with wire where
they cross.
Then place the shorter upper side of the X under the banana stalk to allow the bunch to hang down so that the stalk is not squeezed
and conduction of liquids occurs normally through it.

12.5 Trashing & debelling
Trashing is the cutting down of all dead leaves because they may have pests and diseases living in them.
Cut them down with a bush knife and burn them.
Cut with an upward stroke of the bush knife.
Removing diseased leaves of bananas while they were still green reduces the spore load and improves air flows that are both good for
leaf disease control.
This method also reduces the incidence of other pests.
It is extremely important that dead and diseased leaves are cut from the plant regularly.
This practice will reduce the incidence of leaf diseases, lower the fire risk
and help to keep the plants tidy, but care should be taken to remove only leaves that are diseased or completely dead.
Debelling is to cut off the banana flower, the "bell", when the last row of bananas has formed because the flower continues to use
some nutrients
and the bell makes the bunch much too heavy and may attract birds.
Cut bell 100 cm from the last hand when the last hand has set.
You can eat the infertile flowers inside the flower petals.

12.6 Fertilizing
You will need fertilizers or coconut husks for mulch.
Ask the Ministry of Agriculture for advice on fertilizing bananas because suitable application of fertilizers depends on climate, variety
and soil type.
1. Bananas are "heavy feeders".
They need a lot of potassium, K.
To get a good size of bunch fertilize early and often.
During the first third of the growth cycle, the size of the bunch is already determined based on the amount of fertilizer, water and heat
of the soil.
Bananas need heavy applications of fertilizer near the surface of the soil because of its shallow roots.
2. For high yield, quick growth during the first 3 months to get the largest possible leaf area is necessary.
However, top dressing with fertilizer after 6 months is not desirable.
Each plant needs about 2 kg of mixed fertilizer each year, but this must be put on a little at a time, not all at once.
The fertilizer must not be put too close to the plant.
It should be spread out evenly in a circle 1 metre wide around the stem of the plant.
Sprinkle 0.25 kg of mixed fertilizer on the ground around each banana plant.
There is no need to dig it in, just sprinkle it over the leaf mulch.
If you do not have any fertilizer, put many coconut husks on the soil around each plant.
Put the husks with the cup upwards.
Husks contain some potash plant food and the rain will wash this wash this into the soil.
At bell emergence, apply a good handful of potash around the tree.
Put some pig manure around the plants if there is no fertilizer, but the NPK fertilizer is best to use.
Pull out any weeds that are growing near the plants.
3. On sloping sites, apply the fertilizer to the up hill side only.
4. Different fertilizing methods
In some places, farmers feed the bananas NPK 6-2-12 each week and feed magnesium every two months.
Others use a 5-5-5 all purpose organic fertilizer mixture with additional sources of potassium.
A complete fertilizer with an analysis of approximately 10% nitrogen, 2% phosphorus and 22% potassium, that is, a 10:2:22 NPK
mixture, is quite suitable for use on most of the soils bananas can be grown in.
5. As soon as the sucker begins to grow, or the shoot from the bit appears above ground level, the first application of fertilizer at the
rate of 200 g per plant can be made.
Subsequent dressings of the same fertilizer at twice the rate are applied every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season.
A similar fertilizing program should be followed in subsequent years over the period of September to April.
Applying a dressing of dolomite at 200 g per square metre every year is beneficial to the plants.
This material should also be spread evenly over the soil.
6. After the first crop is harvested, it is recommended that you apply, per banana plant per year, a total of 800 g of agricultural lime
240 g of urea, 30 g of superphosphate, 600 g of potassium sulfate.
For better results, apply a quarter of the recommended application four times between September and April.
Alternatively, apply organic fertilizers.
7. Commercial growers use Nitrophoska or Rustica, or a NPK blend, grade formula (NPK = 101:3:6).
During warmer growing months apply fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks, but reduce it during cold months.
Do not to allow the fertilizer to contact the plant stem.
Within two months of planting, roots can extend more than a metre away from the stem, so apply the fertilizer thinly over the whole area
NOT concentrated around the stem.

12.7 Weeding
Weeds compete for water, nutrients and light, and may allow pests and diseases to be near the bananas and attack them.
During the first year of growth, until the banana plants are about 2 m tall, chip away weeds and grass between the plants with a hoe.
The ground in the banana project should be weed free but if the manual weeding is done carelessly with a hoe the shallow roots of the
bananas will be damaged.
Plant a cover crop to control weeds.
You can also use clean mulch to control weeds, but make sure that there are no insect pests in it.
Tiny tissue culture plants have very little reserves, so competition from weeds will weaken the plant.
Use only hand-hoeing to remove weeds
Avoid all systemic, contact, or hormone weed-killers around the plants.

12.8 Watering
Maintain soil in a moist but not sodden condition.

12.9 Desuckering
Remove any diseased or down leaves.
The first flush of suckers may appear very early and these should be cut off at ground level, until the mother plant is about 2m tall.
Don't apply kerosene at this young age, as you may damage the mother plant.
Don't be tempted to keep these suckers for your next crop because they have emerged from a point too shallow under the base of the
mother plant and they will more than likely topple over (and pull the mother plant over as well), when mature.
The most suitable sucker for your next crop should be selected about 5 months after planting, at which time it will have emerged from
a point much deeper in the soil and be more stable at maturity.
The suckers you want to select are called sword suckers - very thin sword-like leaves.
The big fat healthy leafed suckers are not the ones you want to select - these are called water suckers and they will not produce the
best plant or the biggest bunch of bananas.

12.10 .Bunch Trimming
Remove the bottom couple of hands to increase the overall size and length of the remaining fruit.
These lower hands are noticeably smaller than the ones above, and you can just snap them off with your fingers.

12.11 Bagging
When the fingers start to turn upwards, put a banana bunch cover over the bunch to (hopefully), discourage hungry birds and flying foxes.
Tie the top end of the bag around the bunch stem and leave the bottom end hanging open for air flow to reduce humidity.

12.12 Bell Removal
Some commercial growers remove the bell because they believe it drains nutrients from the bunch.
Other growers leave it on because they believe the weight helps the bunch to hang straighter.

13.1 Banana root nematode, Radopholus similis
Banana root nematode, burrowing nematode, worm or eel worm, Radopholus similis
This nematode worm lives in most banana growing regions.
The tiny worms make red brown tunnels in the banana roots and corm.
A fungus, Fusarium oxysporum, infects the tunnels causing root rot or blackhead disease.
The roots rot and weaken the plant that may topple over in strong wind after the heavy fruit bunches have formed.
For control of Banana Root Nematode
1. Select clean land and keep land clean of weeds, dead leaves and trash.
The ideal is to use ground that has not grown bananas, Sudan grass or stylo for at least three years.
Nematodes are spread by water and the damp dirt sticking to farm implements.
Select clean suckers for planting material.
2. Plant in land that has a well grown cover crop, e.g. cowpea, pigeon pea, velvet bean, lablab, Crotalaria, Pueraria
Calopogonium, Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana),.
3. Do not plant bananas near crops that may have nematodes in their roots, e.g. corn (maize, ), sugar cane, Siratro, green panic grass
sorghum and many varieties of legumes.
4. To prepare planting material, cut off all roots, soil and traces of discoloured tissue in the corm, discard any corms with borer
tunnelling activity, remove the tissue where outside leaves emerge from the corm.
Then dip this pared material in 53oC to 55oC hot water for 20 minutes, dry in the sun, then plant straight away.
It is not easy to judge how long to keep the planting material in the hot water to kill any nematodes but not cook the corm.
Use 0.7 to 0.9 kg bits with backward eyes because bits with advanced eyes are difficult to pare properly and may not survive heat
Treat planting material with a chemical that kills nematodes, nematicide, e.g. DBCP and treat infected soil with a nematicide.

13.0 Insect pests
See diagram 51.15: Insect pests of banana
Ask the agriculture field officer about pests and diseases of bananas in your area and show the agricultural officer any infected plants
from your banana project.
Look for signs of pests and diseases in the school banana project and in other banana projects.
Insect pests of banana may include Banana aphid, Banana flower thrips, Banana fruit caterpillar, Banana rust thrips, Banana scab moth
Banana weevil borer, Banana silvering thrips, Banana spotting and fruit spotting bugs, Cluster caterpillar, Fruit piercing moths
Queensland fruit fly, Spider mite, Two spotted mite, Spiralling white fly, Sugarcane bud moth.

13.2 Banana weevil borer, banana root borer, "banana beetle", Cosmopolites sordidus
Banana weevil borer can be the most serious pest of bananas.
The weevils are about 10-12 mm long, with a long weevil snout, and are brown then black in colour.
The soft, white, legless larvae have a curved body, are swollen in the middle and a hard brown head.
The structure of the future weevil can be seen through the white skin of the pupae, the same size as the larvae.
They seldom fly, move slowly and pretend to be dead when disturbed.
So their natural spread is very slow and their dispersal is usually caused by the use of infested suckers and bits for planting.
They live in rotting false stems lying on the ground.
At night they burrow into the corm above ground and lay white eggs, which hatch out larvae.
The white larva bores many round tunnels in the corm that let in fungi that can cause the whole corm to rot and the plant dies.
An average life cycle is completed in 12 weeks in north Queensland but the adult weevils live a long time.
For control of Banana weevil borer: 1. Select clean land and keep land clean of weeds, dead leaves and trash.
2. Select clean suckers for planting material.
3. Make weevil traps with cut pieces of corm placed cut side down on a small stone.
Weevils will live under the piece of corm.
These weevils can then be collected every few days and killed.
When replanting into old banana land, all banana residues must be destroyed and the land left to fallow for at least six months after all
residues have rotted down to prevent carry over of adults.
Ensure good plantation hygiene by removing all trash from the area around plants and suckers by raking all leaves into the inter row.
Cut up all fallen and harvested plant pseudostems to increase the rate of breakdown and destroy breeding sites.
Chemical control is possible if supervised by an officer of the Department of Primary Industry.

13.3 Banana scab moth, Nacoleia octasema
The moth is small (25 mm wingspan), tan to light brown with small black spots on the wings.
The flattened eggs are laid in clusters ranging from a few to 30 eggs.
The eggs resemble shiny overlapping fish scales.
The yellow to orange larvae grow to about 25 mm before pupating.
Eggs are laid on or near to an emerging bunch and hatch after about four days.
The larvae feed on young female flowers and young fruit leaving a scab.
As the bracts and hands of bananas lift from the bunch stalk the larvae move to the next closed hand.
The life cycle egg to egg is completed in 28 days.
Adults live for only 4-5 days.
They hide in trash during the day and mate and lay eggs in the early evening.
Pandanus and heliconia are known alternate hosts so they should not grow near the bananas.

The scars caused by the larval feeding form a black callous so people do not like to buy or eat the fruit.
Control by clearing away any dead plant material around the plant base.
The scab moth has many natural enemies, e.g. spiders, so do not use chemicals that can kill these natural predators.

14.0 Diseases
See diagram 51.16: Diseases of banana
Diseases of bananas may include Banana bunchy top, Panama disease (Fusarium wilt), Black sigatoka (leaf spot), Banana bract
mosaic disease, Banana leaf spot diseases, Banana freckle, Anthracnose, Choke throat, Rhizome soft rot.
Ask the agriculture field officer about pests and diseases of bananas in your area and show the agricultural officer any infected plants
from your banana project.
The usual advice from an agricultural field officer is buy only clean planting material of approved varieties, report any unusual disease
symptoms, keep leaf disease under control and observe the quarantine requirements of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Quarantine regulations vary depending on where you live and the type of banana plant movement.
Look for signs of pests and diseases in the school banana project and in other banana projects.
Most diseases are caused by fungi that can live in the air as tiny spores, or be carried on diseased leaves.
They can usually infect the plant in the rainy season when the spores germinate and the fungus can then grow into the leaf through the
Another pathway of infection occurs when fungi and bacteria enter holes in the leaves, stem, corn and roots made by insects
nematode worms or other animals.
Methods for control of diseases include: 1. Select clean land with no wild bananas.
2. Keep land clean of weeds, dead leaves and trash.
3. Select clean suckers for planting material.
4. Plant in land that has a well grown cover crop.
5. Keeping the project clean of weeds, dead leaves on the ground, dead leaves hanging down from the plants.
6. Control rats and flying foxes.
7. Use your own planting material if you know that your bananas are free of pests and diseases.
Planting material from other places may contain pests and diseases.

14.1 Banana bunchy top virus, BBTV
Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV), causes the most serious disease of banana worldwide, and can have a devastating effect on crops.
It was first recognised from Fiji as early as 1879, and in many other countries including Australia in the early 1900s.
Cutting edge research was undertaken in Australia in the 1920s, leading to one of the worlds most successful plant virus disease control
programs, but the virus itself was not isolated until 1990.
Knowledge on the molecular characteristics of the virus and its relationship with its aphid vector have progressed rapidly in recent years
but the virus still causes serious field disease in many countries and no natural sources of resistance have yet been identified.
Research on BBTV ranges from molecular studies on virus diversity and detection, through to epidemiology, and field control, both in
Australia and overseas.
Bunchy top disease can cause significant loss of production.
The banana bunchy top virus (BBTV), occurs world wide and causes a characteristic "bunched" appearance of newly emerging
leaves, reduced plant growth and dot and dash flecks along leaf veins and underside of leaves.
Infected leaves may be more upright with pale yellow margins.
Infected plants do not produce fruit.
BBTV is spread in infected planting material, including suckers or bits, or by the banana aphid (Pentalonia nigronervosa).
Bunchy top cannot be cured and infected plants must be destroyed.
Infected plants and all trash must be burned.

14.2 Panama disease (Fusarium wilt), Fusarium oxysporum
Panama disease (fusarium wilt), is caused by the soil fungus Fusarium oxysporum, which spreads with soil and water movement
and also with infected planting material.
The first symptoms are yellowing and dying of the leaf edges, often mistaken for effects of water stress.
The leaves later collapse until the plant has the appearance of a stump with a skirt of dead or dying leaves.
Internally, the water conducting tissue is discoloured.
The fungus enters through the roots especially if damaged by nematodes.
The plant cannot take up water and the leaves wilt.
The cut stem has a fishy smell.
There is no sanitary control or chemical control available, but the "Cavendish" clones are highly resistant to this wilt.
Effects range from reduced yields to death of the plants.
The soil remains infested indefinitely so that only resistant varieties can be grown on that site in the future.
There are four races of the fungus.
Race 1 attacks Lady finger, Sugar and Ducasse bananas but not Cavendish bananas.
Race 2 attacks Bluggoe and Blue Java bananas but not other banana varieties.
Race 3 attacks only Heliconia and is not a problem on bananas.
Race 4 attacks nearly all varieties of bananas, including the main commercial Cavendish variety.
There is no treatment for Panama Disease.
The only way is to grow a resistant variety of banana, e.g. in the West Indies in the past they flood the infected land with sea water
for several years.
When Lady Fingers are replanted, it takes a few years but the disease eventually shows up again.
Goldfinger has some resistance to PD and is suitable for backyards.
Panama is a species of Fusarium that is specific to bananas while other species infect other plants.
Bacterial wilt, moko disease, is transmitted above the ground by insects or infected knives is similar to Panama disease except that it
shows yellow lamina near the petiole.
It can be controlled by burning diseases plants and disinfecting knives with formalin.

14.3 Black sigatoka disease
Black sigatoka (leaf spot, black leaf streak), disease, is caused by Mycosphaerella fijiensis.
It occurs in most banana growing regions.
They cause the bananas to produce less fruit by destroying the leaves.
Black Sigatoka disease starts as yellow steaks or 1 mm red brown flecks on the lower leaf surface
that increase in size to form dark brown linear or elliptical streaks, 4-12 mm long, parallel to the leaf veins and visible on both leaf
The streaks expand becoming elliptical spots often with a distinctive yellow halo.
As the lesions mature further, they become sunken and the centre turns grey.
In susceptible cultivars, high levels of disease can cause large areas of the leaf surface to die.
The disease can be spread by the movement of infected plant material, fungal spores produced on leaf lesions
within dead leaf material on the plant, in trash and by spores dispersed by the wind or by water splash.
The unfurling and youngest fully expanded leaves on large plants and suckers are the most susceptible to infection.
As the leaves mature, they become resistant to infection.
Severely infected leaves can die, significantly reducing fruit yield, and causing mixed and premature ripening of bunches.
The disease spreads rapidly in hot, wet and windy weather if the banana project is not clean weeded and useless suckers not removed.
Badly infected leaves should be removed and burnt.
Fungicide spraying and use of fogging with mineral oils will help to prevent this disease.
Researchers at the Biotechnology Research Centre (CIBE), Ecuador, have isolated the genes in the naturally resistant banana variety
Musa Calcutta-4, to develop a protocol for the genetic transformation of banana cultivars Williams and Oritoas well as plantain
cultivars Barraganete and Dominico cultivar.

14.4 Comparing bacterial wilt and fusarium wilt
Comparing banana bacterial wilt caused by Xanthomonas campestris and fusarium wilt, caused by Fusarium oxysporum
by Richard Davis, Plant Pathologist
Bugtok (Tibagnol), is caused by a bacterium Pseudomonas solanacearum, carried by rasping, piercing and sucking insects.
Moko disease, is caused by Ralstonia solanacearum, a proteobacteria, is soil borne and causes bacterial wilt.
Blood disease is similar to Moko disease, the cause is not certain
Panama disease is caused by the soil borne fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (FOC), which infects
susceptible bananas through the roots causing a lethal vascular wilt.
1. Leaf symptoms
Blood disease and Moko disease: Leaves show a transient yellowing.
Wilt and die and hang down.
Eventually, a "skirt" of dead leaves remains around the pseudostem.
Xanthomonas wilt: Young leaves become yellow and die.
Compared to fusarium wilt: Wilt development is generally slower, so many leaves remain upright and rigid for much longer before
they eventually die.
They become a characteristic bright yellow, which is easy to see from a distance.
2. Presence of a bunch
Blood disease, Moko, Bugtok: As infection through the floral raceme is common, a bunch of fruit is often seen in diseased plants.
Compared to fusarium wilt: Infections with most stains of Foc usually get too severe too early for a bunch to be produced.
3. Fruit symptoms
Blood disease: Fruit is outwardly unaffected but internally is discoloured and may contain dry cavities or pockets of reddish brown
mucoid tissue.
Moko: The fruit turn yellow and when cut show a firm brown rot that becomes grey.
Bugtok: Fruits of infected plants are internally discoloured red or brown and remain hard even when ripe.
Xanthomonas wilt: Fruit ripen unevenly and when cut, show a red brown internal rot.
Compared to fusarium wilt: If fruit are present there will be no discoloration inside green living fruits.
4. Internal vascular symptoms
Blood disease and moko: Internally brown vascular streaking can be seen throughout the plant, especially towards the centre of
pseudostems and peduncles, and also in roots.
Cut vascular bundles exude bacterial ooze that is white to reddish brown colour (blood disease), or cream, yellow to brown to black
(moko disease).
Bugtok: Vascular discoloration also occurs, but because the symptoms of bugtok are confined to the floral raceme, this does not
usually extend far into the lower part of the fruit stem.
Xanthomonas wilt: Cut vascular bundles exude a yellow ooze.
Compared to fusarium wilt: Discoloration is readily seen in the pseudostem and would not occur in the fruit peduncles, if present.
Infected xylem vessels are seen as brown, red or yellow continuous vertical lines, which appear as rings in cross section.
Early in the process, before secondary rotting becomes extensive, there will be little or no discoloration in the centre of the
Later however, internal decay gets worse and brown secondary rotting, can be seen throughout.
5. Symptoms in suckers
Blood disease: Most suckers connected to the corm also become infected.
Compared to fusarium wilt: Suckers can often appear completely healthy and symptom less even though they are usually full of Foc

15.0 Fruit bunch
See diagram 51.7.1: Fruit bunch
See diagram 9.110.3: Banana berry
Banana plants start to bear fruit after they have developed a certain n umber of leaves, 20 to 30 leaves, depending on the variety of
The fruit bunch appears at the top of the plant when it is about nine to ten months old.
About 70 days after this the fruits begin to grow, and the bunch starts to get heavier.
Wen the bunch begins to develop:
1. Put a long piece of wood under the stalk of bunch to support it.
If this is not done, a strong wind may blow the plant down.
2. Cut off the large bud of the male flowers about 15 to 20 cm below the bottom of the last flower.
Do this two weeks after the first hand of flowers opens.
If it is done earlier than this, the plant will lose too much sap.
If it is done too late, much food will be sent down to this part that is not needed.
3. Cut off the flower bell 100 mm below the last hand to increase fruit size.
4. Cut off the two bottom hands to increase fruit size.
5. Use props to prevent the banana plants from falling over when bearing a heavy bunch.

16.0 Harvesting
See diagram 51.18: Packing bananas, "hand", "finger"
1. Fruit develops about two months after the flowering stalk has pushed up.
The flowering stem has grown up through the middle of the false stem turned down, and started to form two rows of flowers at each
node, female flowers and later male flowers.
The cluster of female flowers at each node will produce a hand of bananas.
The male flowers are sterile and soon fall off leaving a bare stem.
The end of the stem continues to grow even after the fruit has formed.
2. Each cluster of female and male flowers is enclosed in a colourful bracket that is like a protective leaf.
The young bracts at the end of the stem enclose each other to form a cone, ("the bell").
The older bracts further up the stem turn back then an off.

Cut a V through the stem at shoulder height, bend the stem and lower the bunch to the ground.
Leave 45 cm of the stalk above the fruit.
This is used for carrying the bunch easily.
It also holds some water that he fruit can use after cutting.
Never leave the fruit in the hot sun.
Always handle fruit very carefully to stop bruising and marking the fruit.
Never let sea water touch the fruit.
Bananas ripen best when they are picked green.
If they are to be used for the home, cutting them down when they are fat is best, round and light green in colour.
If they have to be taken in a truck or a boat to market, cutting them down when a little younger and the fruit are still a bit angular and
not round is best.
The fruit ripens best in a dark, cool place, when the banana may have a 20% sugar content and a distinctive aroma caused by
amyl acetate and other esters, and eugenol.
Take great care should be taken in harvesting bananas.
3. If the fruit has to be packed into boxes, the hands must be removed and packed neatly in layers in the box, first one way, then the
A little bit of stalk must be left on each hand so that the fingers of each hand stay together.
4. A bunch is ready to cut when the fruit is fairly evenly rounded with no prominent ribs, and the dry remains of the flowers break off
readily from the fruit tip in the fingers when rubbed.
If the bunch is protected by an open plastic sleeve, it can be left on the plant until the fruit begin to ripen.
When harvesting, the stalk of the bunch should be cut well above the top hand of bananas.
5. A bunch is ready to harvest when the fruit is full and round, the remains of the flowers should break off the end of the fruit when
rubbed with the fingers.
The fingers are plump, green and almost ready to turn yellow.
Note the date when the first petal opens.
Twelve weeks later, the fruit should be ready to be cut down.
Use a bush knife to cut the bunch stalk high up to leave a long "handle".
If the bunch is too high up, cut partly through the middle of the false stem to make it bend.
6. Hang up the bunch by the false stem in a shady place for ripening.
Show the students how to cut down a bunch and hang it in the shade to ripen fully.
Cut down the tree after harvest.
The first generation tree will bear fruit once only then die to the ground so after harvesting there is no point in keeping the first
generation tree.
7. Cut the first generation tree down near to ground level and care for the follower crop in the same way as for the first generation crop.
Show the students a flowering stem with bananas.
Explain the different parts of the stem and the way the bananas are formed from the female flowers.
8. Are the bananas ripe?
Cut open a banana.
Note the six sided fruit.
Squeeze the banana and note the three parts of the fruit wall.
The three rows of black spots are the remains of the seeds.
9. Harvesting
Watch the developing fruit for signs of almost-ripeness.
The corners will round off, and the fruit will fill out.
Don't leave them on the tree to ripen to yellow, otherwise the whole bunch will ripen all at once.
Take a finger off the top hand and bring it inside.
Once it looks ripe enough, taste it.
If the flavour is good, then vou can remove the whole hand.
If not, then leave it for another day, and try again.
If you want to remove the whole bunch
Work with another person because the bunch could weigh as much as 40 kg.
Cut a notch in the tree at your shoulder height and slowly pull the bunch down onto your shoulder.
Have someone else cut the bunch stalk from the tree.
Cut the remaining crown (leaves), off the tree as high as possible and leave these as compost.
Leave the remaining stem as tall as possible as the retained water and nutrients will continue to feed the suckers.
When it has completely browned off you can drop it and chop it up and remove it.

17.0 Banana ripening
1. Remove individual hands from a green bunch to be ripened separately to have ripe bananas over a long period.
Leave the hands to ripen in a cool, well ventilated place.
Leave the blue plastic bag cover on the bunch, but open the bottom to provide some extra ventilation.

2. The best ripening temperature is about 20oC.
Above 26oC, the fruit softens and the pulp will ripens but the skin remains pale green.
Fruit ripened at day temperatures 25oC to 28oC and night temperatures 17oC to 18oC are usually ready to eat in 2-5 days.

3. Although some people prefer to use fully ripe bananas the quality and the flavour of the fruit are no less when harvested at the fully
developed hard green stage and ripened later.
The green unripe fruit produces heat and ethylene slowly then, as the skin colour changes from green to yellow, starts the ripening
phase to quickly produce large amounts of heat and ethylene.
To ripen bananas using ripening fruit, seal the bunch, hand or fingers in a plastic bag with a ripening (not ripened), red apple or
banana to absorb the ethylene from the ripening fruit.
Leave the bag in a cool dark cupboard, but not in a refrigerator, for one day in summer or four days or more in winter.
Then remove the ripening fruit but leave the bananas in the plastic bag.

4. When bananas show the first signs of ripening, remove them from the plastic bag and allow them to ripen normally.
Do not store bananas below 13oC so do not store them in a domestic refrigerator.
However, bunches of green bananas stored at 13.3oC give off little heat or ethylene and so can be stored for about 2 weeks without
Below 10oC, spoilage occurs when phenolic amines, e.g. dopamine, inside the vacuoles of banana skin cells, leak out and react with
polyphenol oxidases and air to form brown polyphenols.
Warming these bananas increases the skin browning.

5. Select a banana with a natural yellow white skin with no black patches.
Put the banana in the refrigerator freezer overnight.
The next day observe the banana still in the freezer.
It is frozen hard and the same colour as the night before.
The oxidase enzymes cannot function at such a low temperature.
Cover a plate with water to make a 0.5 cm layer of water over the plate.
Remove the banana from the freezer and place it on the plate.
The banana skin darkens before your eyes and if you feel the banana it is soft inside.
Pick up the banana a and observe its underside.
It still has the same colour as the night before because the water on the plate did not allow oxygen to have access to the browning
Put the banana on the table.
The whole banana becomes black and squashy.
When harvested when the fruit is mature but still green, the banana is mostly starch and about 1% sugar.
Tannins in the pulp of the unripe banana give it an astringent taste.
Browning enzymes and phenolic substances in its vascular sytsem cause the pulp of an unpeeled banana to brown easily.
As bananas ripen, the starch converts almost entirely to sugar until when ripe they are nearly 20% sugar.
Ripe bananas have a smooth consistency and a characteristic smell caused by amyl acetate and other esters, and eugenol.
The acidity increases during ripening when they have a dry, starchy texture.
Once a fruit is ripe, it can be placed in a refrigerator with little discoloration, although the peel will still turn black.
Very ripe bananas are easily digested, which helps sick people and they are an excellent weaning food for babies when they stop
drinking their mother's milk.
Plantains (cooking bananas), have a high concentration of starch, so they must be cooked.

6. Prevent bananas from ripening too quickly by keeping them wrapped in a double sheet of newspaper in a cool cupboard.
In very hot weather keep bananas wrapped in aluminium foil in a refrigerator to extend their shelf life.
If not to be eaten immediately, choose bananas with green tips.
Solid yellow bananas are almost ready to eat and bananas with brown specks on the skin should be eaten immediately.
Keep bananas at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
The skin will turn brown black caused by browning enzymes and phenolic substances, but the flesh will be unaffected.
The ideal refrigeration temperature is about 13oC.
If stored below 10oC, spoilage increases because of increase phenol levels from breakdown of cell membranes.

7. To assist ripening of green bananas put them in a paper bag with an apple or pear.
If using fresh bananas in fruit salads squeeze lemon juice over them to prevent browning.
Use very ripe bananas in muffins or cakes.
If using bananas in sandwiches, custards or fruit salads drop them in boiling water for a few seconds before peeling
so that they will not turn black when used but will keep their original colour.

18.0 Diet
1. Bananas are a good source of dietary fibre, Vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium.
A banana may contain more potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, Niacin, and ascorbic acid than an
2. Bananas with a high sugar content are usually eaten raw.
Bananas with high starch content (plantains), are usually cooked.
Banana leaves can be used for wrapping fish, meat or chicken to be steamed, poached, grilled or barbecued.
The stems and leaves can be used for plates, wrapping, umbrellas and cattle feed.
The fibres can be used to make a batik cloth.
The banana blossom (banana inflorescence), can be eaten after peeling off the outer leaves.
It can be cooked in curries or soups.
The male banana flower can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable.
However, depending on the variety, the flower may have too high oxalic content and so are too astringent for most people.
4. Simple Banana Bread
Cream together in a bowl 113 g softened butter, 1 cup sugar or coconut sugar, 3 eggs.
Add 3 very ripe large mashed bananas.
Sift together the following dry ingredient: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1.2 tsp. salt.
Then add to the creamed mixture alternately with 3 tsp. buttermilk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
Stir until just combined.
Fold in the 1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts.
Pour into greased and parchment lined loaf pan.
Bake at 180oC in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean when tested.
Cool in pan briefly then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
Keeps well if refrigerated.
5. Use central core of the banana bell, the tender immature flowers and bracts for salads and as a cooked vegetable.
6. Banana flower salad
Use flower or bells only from a chemical-free source.
Discard the tough outer leaves from a banana flower, then finely shred the rest.
Keep the outer shells for serving.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a wok or frypan over high heat.
Add 1 onion, seeded and chopped red chilli, 2 cloves, crushed garlic, 1 tablespoon shredded ginger.
Cook for 3 minutes or until golden.
Add shredded banana flower and cook for 8 - 10 minutes or until banana flower is tender.
When shredding the flower keep in lemon juice and water to stop it browning till you have finished shredding when ready dry on
a paper towel.
Add 500 g lean rump steak, or chicken breast, or prawns or fish and cook for 5 minutes or until sealed.
Add 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and cook for 2 minutes.
Toss through 3 tablespoons mint and 3 tablespoons coriander and serve.

18.1 Green banana flour
The lady finger bananas have been used to produce green banana flour.
It is sold as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour and is exported to Japan and Europe to replace other flours for sweet or savoury
It is reported to be high in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium and vitamin E, has a wide range of nutritional
benefits including high resistant starch content which can strengthen the immune system, speed up metabolism for weight loss, lower
cholesterol and help prevent diabetes.
Green banana flour is profitable potential for bananas dumped because they are the wrong size or shape for supermarkets.
It is being tested for use in an energy bar for soldiers.

19.0 Grow bananas at home, residential plantations
Residential plantations are defined as those bananas not grown for commercial purposes.
Residential banana growers must comply with current biosecurity legislation.
Only certain banana varieties may be allowed on residential plantations in certain areas.
In Queensland, Australia, there are no longer any restrictions on the varieties permitted or number of plants for home cultivation.
From 2016-07-1, a permit is no longer required to grow banana plants in Queensland; provided they are tissue cultured plantlets
purchased from a QBAN accredited nursery, but home growers are still not allowed to grow ornamental bananas.
Current stock in QBAN accredited nurseries (2016-12-03), include the following varieties:
Cavendish, Bluggoe, Ladyfinger, Ducasse, Dwarf Ducasse, Pisang Ceylan, Blue Java, Pacific Plantain, Red Dacca, Dwarf Red Dacca
Goldfinger, Pisang Mas, Senorita, but not Dwarf Cavendish or Dwarf Ladyfinger.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Queensland has warned nursery operators and residential growers in southern
Queensland about the illegal sale and purchase of banana plants.
Investigations have also revealed that purchasers were not in receipt of an inspector's approval allowing them to move and plant the
banana plants.
Nursery owners who sell plants to people without approvals and residential growers buying and planting banana plants without
approval could face fines.
To transplant any bananas, including Ladyfingers, in your backyard you need to obtain a free planting approval from the DPI.
This will be issued if source material is acceptable and the plants are permitted varieties for the area.
Residential plantings are those bananas not grown for commercial purposes.
Residential growers may plant a maximum of 10 plants of permitted banana varieties, but only after obtaining written approval.
The only permitted varieties for residential growers in southern Queensland are Ladyfinger, Blue Java, Ducasse, Goldfinger, Bluggoe
(plantain or cooking bananas), and Kluai Namwa Khom (Dwarf Ducasse), and Pisang Ceylan.
The reason behind only being able to plant these varieties is that all banana plants, including Ladyfinger, are susceptible to Banana
Bunchy Top Virus.
The varieties identified for residential use grow taller making them easier to see when conducting residential property inspections for
the disease.
Varieties such as Ladyfinger tend to show the bunchy top virus symptoms clearly as opposed to Cavendish varieties.
Banana plants are also susceptible to Panama disease, a soil-borne fungus often moved in infested planting material.
In some countries with a developed banana industry, it is illegal to grow bananas at home in the ground or in pots.
You may need permission to up to a maximum of 10 banana plants or 30 pseudostems of approved varieties for a residential
Bananas grown in the home need bright diffused light, warmth, the right kind of food and attention once they are in fruit.
In temperate countries, bananas are relatively free of pests.
To grow bananas as an indoor plant, you need a sun porch, a greenhouse or a room with good light.
Bees are unnecessary to produce fruit.
Plant outdoors in the summer on a wheeled caddy, but drag it indoors before the first frost.
Bananas are not frost-tolerant plants.
Temperatures below 0oC will kill off the foliage.
Below 5oC the rhizome will die.
Some non fruiting species, e.g. Musa basjoo, will take much colder weather.
Banana plants do well in the same narrow air temperature range that humans enjoy most.
The optimum temperatures are between 20oC and 27oC.
Below 20oC bananas may stop growing because the roots must be kept warm.
Do not expose the plant to temperatures greater than 30oC.
However, the plant will not die if it has sufficient water.
Timing of fruit production is related to leaf output, so slowed growth from being too cool or too hot retards leaf emergence and
delays fruiting.
During high temperatures, plants in pots can be taken indoors.
The plant needs sun or other light on its leaves and warm roots.
A dark heat-retaining pot and a gravel or black plastic mulch can boost soil temperature.
Night time drops in temperature or low humidity do not seem to affect fruiting types of bananas but they take them longer to produce
Fruiting bananas are seedless, so they reproduce either by rhizomes or suckers that sprout from the base of a mature stalk, called
Tissue-cultured plantlets have been pathogen tested, making them ideal for use in residential plantations.
These suckers are what you generally get when you purchase banana plants from nurseries.
They should be planted soon after purchase.
The most suitable planting mixes generally have the sandy loam quality that bananas like best.
Start planting in big container, or plan on potting up within three months.
These are fast growing plants that ultimately need at least a 15 gallon size container.
Choose a dwarf variety, e.g. Dwarf Cavendish, about 4 feet at maturity and is recommended for indoor planting.
Bananas are heavy feeders, with potassium and nitrogen the key nutrients.
Combine a good organic 5-5-5 fertilizer with a generous side dressing of a natural potassium source, e.g. kelp meal.
Mix about 1/3 cup of the organic 5-5-5 when first planting the banana in 20 litre container, then add more when potting up into a
55 litre container.
Feed generously during the warm weather months.
Container grown bananas planted in potting soil should be fed small doses of organic fertilizer with every second watering.
There is a direct correlation between nutrient availability early in a young banana plant s life and the number and quality of fruits
Bananas can be burnt by over fertilization with chemical fertilizers.
Never let a banana in a pot to dry out.
For bananas in the ground, water at least once a week in extremely hot weather.
Cultivation is the same as growing banana plants in the ground
After all the fingerling bananas have formed, cut off the huge maroon
flower otherwise it will sap energy that is better used to develop fruit.
Support the fruiting stalk by propping it up with two pieces of crossed bamboo or lumber to leave the fruiting stalk hanging down.
To speed ripening, cover the bunch with a white or blue plastic bag.
Keep offshoots, or pups, down to one or two in the pot along with the main stalk.
After the plant has fruited, discard the stalk that bore the bunch and cut off the pups, leaving any roots attached, then re-pot each
individual remaining chunk with fresh soil.
Ripe bananas will have achieved a full colour and will have rounded out between the longitudinal ridges of the skin.
Immature bananas have an angular look.
Finish ripening them in a bag with an apple.
However, if the fruit starts to split, harvest them immediately without waiting for the full colouring.
Remove one hand at a time to test for maturity without using a whole bunch.
After harvest, cut down the stalk about 100 cm above the ground to avoid non-producing plants competing for nutrients.
Banana behaves like a tropical weed.
Some growers cut down the fruiting stalk with the fruit still attached to save the work of climbing a ladder and lowering a heavy bunch.
When cutting the stalk, remember that juices from the cut may cause a brown stain on clothes and may irritate the skin.

20.0 Panama Disease, The State of Queensland (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries), 2010-2015.
Panama disease is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense.
There are several races of Panama disease:
Race 1 attacks Lady finger, sugar and ducasse bananas, but not Cavendish bananas.
Race 2 attacks cooking bananas like bluggoe and blue Java bananas
Race 3 attacks only heliconia and is not a problem on bananas.
Race 4 attacks nearly all varieties of bananas, including the main commercial variety, Cavendish.
There are two important strains of this race:
Subtropical race 4 usually produces symptoms in Cavendish after a period of cold stress.
Tropical race 4 which is a serious threat to the Australian banana industry.
Location in Queensland
Race 1 and 2 are present in Queensland.
Sub tropical race 4 is also present in South East Queensland.
Tropical Race 4 is present in the Northern Territory.
Both strains of race 4 pose a serious risk to Queensland's banana industry.
Quarantine and interstate plant movement restrictions aim to minimise this risk.
What it looks like
The first symptoms are yellowing and dying of the leaf edges, often mistaken for effects of water stress.
The oldest leaves may turn bright yellow, spreading from the margins.
These leaves can turn brown and dry out.
The leaves later collapse until the plant has the appearance of a stump with a skirt of dead or dying leaves.
The plants may look 'wilted'.
The banana stem may split.
Suckers may not be affected.
Inside the banana stem, the water conducting tissue is discoloured as the fungus infects the plants vascular tissue.
Infected plants rarely fruit, and when they do they aren't marketable.
The symptoms of tropical race 4 are the same as for the other races, except the onset is generally quicker and the disease is generally
more aggressive, leading to rapid plant death.
Be on the lookout for unusual symptoms of aggressive Panama disease in your bananas and report them to us.
Early detection is key for preventing the establishment of tropical race 4 in Queensland.
The disease is easily moved on infected plating material.
Regulations on plant movement are in place to prevent this.
The disease can spread over short distances via root to root contact and through soil.
Spread can also occur from parent plants to suckers.
The disease can also be moved with soil, water and on contaminated equipment.
Panama disease fungal spores can survive many years in soil.
Prevention is the most effective disease control measure.
To exclude Panama disease from reaching your property, always use clean, disease free planting material such as tissue culture plants
or plants from a proven disease free source.
Practising simple hygiene measures such as ensuring shoes, equipment and vehicles are clean and free of soil and plant material prior
to use.
Managing access to properties and training staff in hygiene management and early disease detection are vital in preventing disease
introduction and in managing disease detection promptly.
Control programs
Parts of Queensland are free of some of the Panama disease strains.
The banana industry and the Queensland Government are keen to minimize the effects of this disease by eradicating infections where
possible and restricting movement of bananas from infected areas.
Constant vigilance keeps Panama disease in check.
The key strategies for Panama disease in Queensland are:
1. continuing to monitor the distribution of this fungus in Queensland
2. ensuring no movement of infested planting material, soil or contaminated equipment
3. establishing criteria for ensuring planting material and nursery plants are free of disease
4. seeking disease-resistant varieties in collaboration with world breeding programs and collections.
Panama disease is a Notifiable Disease in Queensland under the Plant Protection Act (1989).
There are strict quarantine regulations to prevent the spread of this disease.
Please help us detect and manage the threat of Panama disease.
If you suspect you have detected the disease, report it to us immediately.

11.1 Banana plantlets
Caring for Banana Plantlets
by Sharon Hamill, Senior Principal Scientist, Horticulture & Forestry Science, Department of Agriculture & Fisheries
Banana plantlets are fairly hardy and you should easily have success with your little plants, but there are a few important points to follow.
Plants will not survive if planted directly into pots without hardening them off under high humidity conditions.
Do not open the lids of the containers until you are ready to plant.
Get everything ready, including pot labels, before you start.
You need fine seedling mix that is already wet and a place under shade so the plants can establish under high humidity conditions
closed in plastic to start with.
For keeping high humidity, use a plastic tent, a plastic bag over a wire frame over pot tied on with string, a commercial propagation
cover, a plastic sheet over a box tied on with string, or cut off clear plastic soft drink bottles turned upside down.
The plants be free draining with holes in the bottom of the container.
Also when the plants are in high humidity they must be grown under shade cloth or they will burn.
When everything is ready, prepare plants in the shade.
Get a container of water and make sure it is at room temperature.
Take tissue culture banana plants from the container (one variety at a time so you don't mix them up), and put them into the water.
Just separate the plants apart and don't scrape every little piece of agar off the roots.
Plant the little banana plantlets like seedlings, make a hole in the potting mix, put in the plants and gently firm soil around them.
Water immediately with a soft shower of water and enclose the plantlets to keep high humidity as quickly as possible to prevent them
drying out.
Use any method that keeps humidity high so you can see condensation inside the cover.
It is important that the plants be free draining with holes needed in the bottom of the container that the pots or tray sits in.
Plants must be in natural sunlight but under one or several layers of shade cloth, depending on the intensity of sun.
A veranda or windowsill will not provide enough light or warmth for the plants.
Waters plants in well and check daily by feeling the potting mix before watering.
Only water as needed and do not put pots in trays of water because they like to be free draining.
You may not have to water plants every day, just check them until they do need water.
If no signs of condensation inside the plastic cover, water the plants.
When new leaves begin to emerge from the centre of the plant, lower the humidity by punching holes in the plastic or opening the edges.
When plants continue to grow well, remove plastic cover totally and water with dilute liquid fertilizer, but keep growing under shade
cloth until the latter stages of hardening off.
Follow a step-by-step process of gradually hardening, growing and fertilizing the plants.
As the plants grow and do not need the high humidity, they should be potted into bigger pots and add pellets of slow release fertilizer
but do not let the pellets touch the plants.
Gradually move plants into increasing amounts of sunlight 2 - 3 weeks before planting.
When the plants are around 30 - 40 cm high, harden them in full sun.
When fully sun hardened, plant deeply and water very well while they get established.
Banana plants like full sun, plenty of water, fertilizer and a warm position.
Make sure you space the plants widely enough apart do that they do not shade each other.
More information on bananas can be found on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry website:

Before teaching this project, discuss the content of the lessons with a field officer of the Ministry of Agriculture
and get advice on planting material, planting distances, a site for planting, approved mulch, composting, and control of pests and
Use only the procedures, agricultural chemicals and insecticides recommended by the local field officer of the Ministry of Agriculture.
If you cannot control insects by hand-picking, ask the Ministry of Agriculture to recommend a chemical spray.
All insect sprays are dangerous.
Show the students how to use them safely.
Do not get the spray onto your hands.
Do not breathe in the spray.
Wash your hands well after using spray.
Keep the spray container in a safe place where students cannot get it.
Spray on a day of no wind but if you must spray when there is a wind, spray down wind.
Make sure the spray does not blow on other people.