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Cultivating Sub-tropical Crops: Bananas

By goGreen | September 30, 2011
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Planning and production
Plan your banana production well. Farming with bananas is farming for profit.

How do you plan?
Use a calendar or a year planner to organise your actions.

What actions to plan

Preparing the land
Soil analysis for lime and phosphate is essential before planting.

Planting
Bananas can be planted using 3 methods:

Planting method for tissue culture plants
Tissue culture plants are small plants which are grown from the tissue of the banana plant, in bags, and are ready for planting. For hygiene reasons, this is the preferred method for planting bananas.

 

Planting method for bits and suckers
Bits are small portions of the banana plant cut from the rhizome (corm) of the plant and a bud is attached.
Suckers are shoots growing from the rhizome of banana plants and they grow into new plants.

 

Spacing
Space the rows 3 m apart and the plants 1,6 m in the row. The size of the hole must be 30 x 30 cm and the depth about 60 cm.

Dos and don’ts when planting

 

Fertilising
Make the soil fertile for the banana plants after planting by applying topdressing.

Apply first topdressing a month after planting (January).

Use 2 bags of LAN fertiliser per hectare (50 g per plant).

Apply second topdressing 3 months after planting (March).

Use 2 bags of LAN fertiliser per hectare (50 g per plant) and 4 bags of KCl fertiliser per hectare (100 g per plant).

Apply third topdressing 5 months after planting (May).
Use 4 bags of KCl and 2 bags of LAN fertiliser per hectare.

Topdress again 9 months after planting in September.
Use 4 bags of KCl and 2 bags of LAN fertiliser per hectare.

Topdress again 11 months after planting (November).
Use 4 bags of KCl and 2 bags of LAN fertiliser per hectare.

Apply the last topdressing in January .
Use 4 bags of KCl and 2 bags of LAN fertiliser per hectare.

Make compost heaps from old vegetable leaves, chicken and kraal manure, which can supplement the fertiliser programme.

 

Desuckering

Desuckering means cutting off unwanted shoots from the stems of the mother banana plant.

NB: It is important to keep not more than 2 080 plants per hectare. Therefore, after harvesting only 1 sucker should be allowed to grow.

 

Irrigating

Example:
Nozzle delivery = 3 mm per hour
For every irrigation, run the system for 20 hours divided by 3 hours
= 6 hours and 40 minutes (20 /3 = 6 hours, 40 min)

Example:
Nozzle delivery = 3 mm per hour
For every irrigation, run the system for 12 hours divided by 3 hours

= 4 hours (12/3 = 4 hours)

Bagging and removing leaves

 

 

Controlling weeds
Control weeds by using:

Chemical sprays are used to kill the weeds—use only recommended chemicals and apply these strictly according to the instructions on the label.
Do not spray:

When using chemical control, such as glyphosphate, protect all parts of the banana plant from spray drift. Weeds are also killed by using a hoe or by hand, especially in the area near the plant to avoid chemical spray contact with the plants. Both methods can be used at the same time to kill weeds.

Pest and disease control
Control pests and diseases. Different pests and diseases require different treatments.

Thrips
Use chlorpyrifos pesticide once a month to kill thrips if they are present.

Nematodes
If they are present, kill them with Nemacur using 45 kg per hectare (20 g per plant). Compost, kraal manure and chicken manure applied in ample quantitieswill also suppress nematodes. Tissue culture plants are free of nematodes.

Sigatoka
Spray with Dithane plus mineral oil.

Post-harvest decay
Dip the banana hands into Benlate solution (5 g Benlate per 10 l water) to prevent post-harvest decay.

Harvesting
Harvest bananas when they are swollen and green but before they become ripe (plump and yellow).

Do not harvest

 

How to harvest

Dos and don’ts when harvesting

Marketing
Now your bananas are ready to be taken to different markets where they can be sold.

Local markets
You can sell your bananas on the streets or at a roadside stall.

Municipal markets
You can arrange with the nearest local market to sell your bananas.

Contracts
You can have contracts with supermarkets and chain stores which can buy and sell your bananas on a regular basis.

Home use
You can use some bananas for food security at home.

Source: Directorate Agricultural Information Services in cooperation with ARC-Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops

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