Banana Cultivation Guide

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About the Crop

###Crop Name
Banana

###Common names
Banana, Plantain

###Scientific Name

Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana
Family : Musaceae

###Name in Indian languages
Vazhai Pazham (Tamil), Arati Pandu (Telugu), Bale Hannu (Kannada), Vazha Pazham (Malayalam), Kela (Hindi), kollaa (Bengali), Kele (Marathi), Keda (Gujarati), Kella (Punjabi), Kadali (Oriya)

###Origin, Distribution and Uses
Banana is a fruit from Banana plant. Its origin is South East Asia, and particularly India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia. It is being cultivated for thousands of years in this region and got migrated to other regions in the world. A vigorously growing versatile plant, it grows In almost all terrains with proper soil conditions. There are mainly two types of bananas being grown - one type is called Banana, which is also called Cavendish variety. It has nice skin and is used for eating as fruits. The other type is called Plantain with thick skin which is used in immature stage for cooking purpose, used as food and at ripe stage as fruit.
The Banana which grows even up to 15 feet height, is a stem plant with a pseudostem in the center portion formed from a portion called Rhizome with roots of fibrous nature which spread deep and around to give a grip to the tree. The center pseudo stem portion is tightly wrapped around with layers of sheaths of the leaves. The pseudo stem during fruiting stage comes out with bulbous portion which bears the fruits called hands with soft flowers at their tip portion which develop into big fruits for harvesting called Banana fruit.
Banana is used as fruit as well as at raw stage for culinary purposes. All the portions of Banana plant is used for different purposes. The leaves are used as plates for serving food in homes and restaurants. It is customary in religious and social functions to use Banana tree as a auspicious symbol, to be tied at the entrances of places where such functions are taking place such as marriage, or worship. The stem is used for food purposes. The leaves also used for food wrapping after heating it on fire or after drying it.
It is used as food for domestic animals. Its sheath portion is used after proper drying and treating for making twine for making garlands and also used for producing fine quality cloth called Banana fiber silk and paper.
Banana has medicinal properties. Rich in fiber it is used to cure constipation. Known to Control Blood pressure, heart burning feeling and good for anemic persons and improves nervous system. It is a affordable food alternative since it contains carbohydrates more. The plantain variety such as Nendran is used for making tastier fried chips when it is green immature stage, further when ripe it is fried with batter and is an famous edible item in Kerala called, ‘Pazham Porichathu’.
According to USDA nutrition data base, Banana contains nutritional values as follows.
Nutritional value per 100gm :
Energy : 89 kcal, Carbohydrates : 22.84 gm, Sugar : 12.23 gm, Dietary fiber : 2.6 gm, Fat : 0.33 gm, Protein : 1.09 gm, Vitamins :- Thiamine (B1) : 0.031 mg, Riboflavin (B2) : 0.073 mg,
Niacin(B3) : 0.665 mg, Pantothenic acid (B5) : 0.334 mg, Pyridoxine (B6) : 0.4 mg, Folate (B9) : 20 micro gram, Choline : 9.8 mg, Vitamin C : 8.7 mg, Minerals :- Iron : 0.26 mg, Magnesium : 27 mg, Manganese : 0.27 mg, Phosphorus : 22 mg, Potassium : 358 mg, Sodium : 1 mg, Zinc : 015 mg,Other Constituents :- Fluride : 2.2 micro gram, Water : 74.9 gm.
It is also known to have the following nutrition in addition to the above.
Vitamin E : 0.1 mg, Vitamin K : 0.5 mg, Lutein+Zeaxanthin : 22 micro gram, Copper : 0.1 mg, Selenium : 1 microgm, Omega 3s : 27 mg, Omega 6s : 46 mg, Phytosterol : 36 mg, Ash : 0.8 gm.

Area, Production and Productivity

In India, nine states are major producers of Banana. They are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamilnadu. According to Government sources, the total area of production in the year 2014 is 1961180 acres and production of is 85481760 Mt.

##Cultivation Requirements

###Climate and Seasons
Banana can be cultivated throughout the year where sufficient water is available for irrigation and the climate is about 27° C. However in India its cultivation is as follows including Hill areas according to the variety of Banana for optimum yield.
The varieties of Poovan, Rasthali, Monthan, Karpooravalli, Ney Poovan in general are cultivated in the period February to April in wet lands, whereas in River Bed areas it can be cultivated in the month of January and August, in Hill areas in Tamilnadu the variety Virupatchi is cultivated during April-May in Palani area and during June- August in Sirumalai area.

###Soils
Rich Loamy Soil with balance Acidic and Alkaline conditions preferably with a pH value between 6 to 7.5 is suitable for good crop. The land should be having good drainage with enough nitrogen and sufficient potash and phosphorous content. Sandy loose soil and black soil are not suitable for Banana cultivation.

##Varieties

1. Poovan (Mysore, Champa, Chini Champa)

Cultivated in the states of Andhra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
With a crop duration of 13 to 14 moths this variety Bears bunches about 24 Kg with approximately 300 fruits having approximate length of 13 cms with deep yellow colour. The skin is thin to peel.

2. Nendran (French Plantain, Rajeli, Bhorot)

Cultivated in the States of Kerala and Tamilnadu. With crop duration of 10 to 13 months this variety Bears Bunches about 15 Kg in weight with approximately 50 fruits with fruit length of approximately 25 cm having yellowish colour. The skin is thicker to peel.

3. Monthan (Karibale, Batheesa, Bontha, Kanch kel)

Cultivated throughout India. With crop duration of 12 months, this variety bears Bunches Green in colour and weighing about 20 to 23 Kg with approximately 50 to 55 fruits and having a length of 20 cm with thick skin to peel.

4. Karpooravalli (Jammulapalem, kanthali, Pisang Awak, Bharat Moni, Chinali, Pey Kunnan, Kosta Bontha)

Cultivated mainly in Tamilnadu, Andhra, Bihar and North east states. With a crop duration of 14 months this variety bears bunches with ash colour coating with pale yellowish fruits weighing about 25 Kg and approximately 185 fruits having a length of 12 cm with thin skin to peel.

5. Rasthali (Silk, Mutheli, Malbhog, Martaman, Karkanduvazhai, Amruthapani, Rasabale)

Cultivated in the States of Andhra, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, Assam and West Bengal. With a crop duration of 14 to 15 months this variety bears fruits with bright yellowish colour with a weight of about 15 kg and 90 fruits, having a length of 11 to 12 cm with thin skin to peel.

6. Red Banana (Lal Kela, Chenkadhali, Sevvazhai, Yerra Aarti, Anupam, Chandrbale, Kembale)

Cultivated in the states of Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andaman & Nicobar. With a crop duration of 16 to 18 months, this variety bears bunches of 25 Kg weight and 70 to 80 fruits of Orange Red Colour having a length of about 18 cm with thick skin to peel.

7. Ney Poovan (Njali Poovan, Elakki Bale, Ney Kadhali, Hoobale, Putta Sugandha,Safed Velchi)

Cultivated mainly in the states of Tamilnadu, Kerala and Karnataka. With a crop duration of 12 to 14 months this variety bears bunches of about 14 Kg in weight with 160 fruits and having a length of 6 to 9 cm, skin nice to peel.

8. Pachhanadan (Kali,Gali Bale, Bargi Bale)

Cultivated in Tamilnadu. With crop duration of 12 months this variety bears bunches about 15 Kg weight and having 120 fruits with Greenish colour thick skin to peel. This variety is resistant to leaf spot and virus disease.

9. Virupakshi (Malavazhai, Hill Banana, Sirumalai)

Mainly cultivated in hilly areas of Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh. With crop duration of 14 months, this variety bears bunches of about 12 Kg in weight with approximately 90 fruits having length of 12 cm with Greenish yellow skin thick to peel. This variety is having a unique aroma and taste. This is used as shade tree for coffee plantation in Tamilnadu.

10. Grand Naine (Grand Nain)

This variety is versatile one is cultivated in all places, being imported from Israel, is suitable for all climates. With a crop duration of 12 months, bears bunches of about 35 Kg in weight and approximately 220 fruits with a length of about 23 cms with Golden yellow colour skin. Specially used in baby food, Chocolates and ice cream. Exported to foreign countries in large scale.

Crop Management

###Field Preparation

The land selected for Banana crop cultivation has to be well manured.To achieve this, prior growing of manure crop like cowpea can be undertaken in the field and after attaining sufficient growth it can be cut and allowed to fall in the field and ploughed along with the soil mixing it thoroughly duly watering the field and allow it to dry. Then plough the field three to four times using different type of ploughs like Rotovar or Harrow in order to break the clods and make the soil a fine one. Before the last ploughing add about 120 tons of Farm yard Manure per acre, as basal dose and plough the field thoroughly. Use Blade harrow to level the field. After last ploughing, leave the field for weathering for 15 days duly exposing the land to sun to prevent Root Nematode disease.

###Propagation
Propagation of Banana plant is achieved with the help of Suckers. As Banana plant grows, it produces suckers which are attached to its Rhizome portion. The suckers take food for growth from the Rhizome portion of main plant and grows itself along. Many Suckers are produced during the course of the plant life of the Main plant. When the plant produces inflorescence (flowering stalk) and the harvest is done, the main plant pseudostem is being cut leaving a length of the stem portion along with the Rhizome portion and allowed to remain in the soil. This acts as food for the suckers and the suckers are maintained to grow further for next ratooning crop. This way the plant is maintained up to three times yield, to get maximum yield and removed after third harvest along with suckers formed at that time. The suckers which are healthy without any deficiency is again used for next cropping.

##Sowing, Nursery and Transplanting
###Seed Rate
In the case of Banana cultivation, suckers are used for planting. The number 0f suckers required for plantation varies according to the variety of fruit to be planted and method of planting. Generally for popular varieties of Rasthali, Poovan, Karpooravalli and Monthan the requirement is 5600 per acre. For two suckers planting 7910 and for 3 suckers planting 11860 suckers are required per acre.

###Seed Treatment and Sowing
Select Sword suckers which are having weight of 1.5 to 2 Kg for planting. The suckers are to be pre treated before planting to resist diseases and for better productivity.
Pits having dimensions of 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm Length x Breadth x Depth are to be prepared for planting suckers and allowed to be exposed to Sun shine for at least 2 days. Fill the bottom of the pit with clean coir pith for water retention.
The suckers selected for planting are to be trimmed before planting. The root portion of the corm to be trimmed and the corm portion with decay to be removed with a fine knife. Generally corms from healthy and disease free plants only are to be used.
The top portion of the pseudostem is to be trimmed allowing a distance of 20 cm from bottom portion (Corm). The prepared corms are to be treated with 0.1% Emisan solution i.e. 1 gm per 1 litre of water to protect against wilt disease. The corm is then dipped in a slurry solution having 5 parts water and 4 parts clay and sprinkled with 40 gm of Carbofuran 3 G granules per corm and allowed to dry for 24 hours in shade. Before planting application of pseudomonas fluorescens at the rate of 25 gm per plant will help more productivity. Now plant the pre treated suckers in the pits duly allowing 5 cm of pseudostem above ground level.
The pits are to be refilled with topsoil removed while forming the pits, duly mixing with 10 Kg of Farm yard manure, 20 gm of Carbofuran and 250 gm of Neem cake per plant.

###Transplanting
In the case of Banana cultivation when Tissue culture system is followed, the Banana plantlings derived from tissue culturing lab is grown in pro-trays under controlled conditions and transplanted in pits after sufficient growth.

###Spacing
Different type of spacing is followed according to Banana variety and system of planting intended for cultivation. For Dwarf Cavendish variety spacing of 1.5 M x 1.5 M, for Robusta and Nendran spacing of 1.8 M x 1.8 m, for Rasthali, Poovan, Karpooravalli and Monthan varieties 2.1 M x 2.1 M Spacing is followed. In the case of High density planting system, for paired row system, 1.2 M x 1.2 M x 2.0 M spacing , for 2 sucker per hill system 1.8 M x 3.6 M spacing and for 3 sucker per hill system 1.8 M x 3.6 M spacing is followed.
###Methods
Three Methods of planting are followed in banana cultivation. They are :-

  1. Pit Method : In this pits are dug at given spacing having size of 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm and the suckers are planted in the pits filled with nutrient enriched top soil and compacted. Previously the land is ploughed and leveled.
  2. Furrow Method: In this initially the land is ploughed and deep cross furrows are formed with required spacing using disc harrows. Then the suckers are planted on the hills formed due to cross furrowing.
  3. Trench Method : Land is prepared with flooding of water and duly ploughed with cage wheel harrow as in the case of rice farming. Then the water is allowed to be drained and the filed is allowed to dry. After few days of drying, the suckers are directly planted in the wet soil. After a few days trenches are dug so as to form even square spaces of field with 4 to 6 plants in a square.
    In pit method there is no need for earthing up which is followed in homestead cultivation. The furrow method is followed in north India, which requires frequent earthing up to protect the plant. In south India especially in Cauvery delta region Trench method is followed widely and pit method to an extent.

###Cropping Patterns
Since space is available between plants inter cropping with other vegetables such as leguminous vegetables gives extra profit. Cow pea, Elephant Yam and Beetroot can be grown. Growing of Sun hemp also can be undertaken which can be used as organic manure for the plantation later. It is interesting to note that In hill plantations in south India, Banana plantation is used as shading trees for Coffee growing. It is advisable not to resort to growing of cucurbitaceous vegetable since they may be a cause for virus disease, which can hamper Banana plant growth

###Water Management
Irrigation can be done by normal and drip irrigation methods. In normal irrigation method irrigation to be started immediately after planting for four to five days. Then once in a week for garden land planting and for wet land planting once in 14 days. This can be controlled during rainy days. This is to be followed till 10 days prior to harvesting. In addition to this irrigation to be done after every time manure is used.
In drip irrigation system water requirement is 15 litres per plant per day from the day of planting till fourth month. Again at the rate of 20 litres per day per plant from fifth month till florescence and at the rate of 25 litres per day till 15 days before harvesting. Along with drip irrigation, if fertigation also is followed, the yield is better and fertiliser use is less. So use of water soluble fertilsers, along with drip irrigation is economical and cost effective.

###Nutrient Management
Banana plant requires nutrients at the rate of 10 kg of Farm yard manure and N:P:K in the range of N- 250 gm, P-70 gm and K - 300 gm per plant. In this N and K to be applied in three equal parts during third, fifth and seventh months. P in full during third month along with N and K. Application of Azospirillum with Phosphobacterium at the rate of 20 gm each per plant during planting and during fifth month is to be carried out before chemical fertiliser application.

For meeting deficiencies foliar application of the following chemicals to be carried out which in turn increases yield rate. They are, FeSo4 : 0.2%, CuSO4 : 0.2%, H3BO3 : 0.15, ZnSO4 : 0.5%. The Foliar spraying is to be carried out during third, fifth and seventh months after planting.
Spraying of CCC at the rate of 1000 ppm during fourth and sixth month after planting and 2,4-D at the rate of 25 ppm after emergence of last bunch improves the quality and quantity of yield.

###Weed Management
Mulching with Polythene sheets and cuttings of dry banana plant sheaths prevents any weed growth, in addition regular earthing up and digging around the plant to be done. Dry leaves are to be cut and removed then and there. If found to be affected with disease, remove the leaves and burn them to prevent further spread of disease. De sucker extra suckers forming in the plant as they form, leaving only one or two healthy suckers.
See that at least 11 leaves remain just before florescence. Give support to the plant at that stage with bamboo or Casuarina poles, making a triangular formation for each plant to prevent damage to the plant due to weight of the bunches or wind.

###Pests and Management

  • Banana Weevil (Cosmopolites sordidus)
    Pest lays eggs between sheaths feeds on them, when become adult bores into corm and stem resulting in the damage to the stem and corm ultimately the rhizome portion gets weakened and plant breaks and falls. To control this during planting time care to be taken to see that no holes visible in the corm. Dipping in hot water and application of Neem powder to be done. Remove dry leaves with sheath and keep the plant clean. Spray Carbaryl at the rate of 15 gm per plant in the soil around the plant. Inject, Monocrotophos 36 WSC 54 ml mixed with 350 ml of water into the pseudostem at the rate of two ml at 45 cm from the bottom of the plant and another 2 ml at 150 cm height from the bottom of plant every month from fifth to eighth month. If the plant gets infected, remove the infected plant totally and cut into pieces and burn. Do not dump them anywhere.
  • Banana aphid (Pentalonia nigronervosa)
    Banana aphids are carriers of Bunchy top virus. Aphids also cause damage to the plant resulting deformation of plants leaves becoming curled and shriveled. The Aphids egg colony presence in the inside of top portion sheaths of the plant and at the base of the plant. They are red brown to black in colour and soft. Once formed, spreads rapidly especially during warm weather.
    To control this Spray Phosphamidon 2 ml per litre of water or Monocrotophos 1 ml per litre of water on the top sheath portion ad base of pseudostem portion three times in 21 days interval from day of planting. Also Inject solution of Monocrotophos 36 WSC, 1 ml mixed with 4 ml of water per plant once in every 45 days from the day of planting from third month till flowering stage and stop injection.
  • Burrowing Nematode (Radopholus similis)
    Nematodes cause extensive damage to the roots and Rhizomes causing the damage and toppling down of the plant. Use of pre treated suckers is must to avoid this. Strictly following pre conditioning of the land and pits with exposure to sun before planting also can control this menace. Application of insecticide before planting also controls the pests. After planting application of Carbofuran 40 gm per plant once in a month around the base of the plant and Neem cake application with mud at the rate of 3.70 ton Neem cake to 37 ton mud per acre after one month of planting, helps control this pest.
  • Coconut Scale (Aspidiotus destructor)
    Small whitish patches forms beneath the leaves, peduncles and petioles and also fruit resulting in plant tissues getting yellowish and discoloring. Causes damage to plants and quality of the fruits affected. To control this biological control method may be followed by allowing lady beetles to destroy this scaling.
    ###Diseases and Management
  • Rhizome rot (Erwina carotovora, Erwina chrysanthemi)
    As the name depicts this disease causes the pseudostem to break away from the Rhizome. Internal central portion of Rhizome is rotten and watery with yellow colour. Will not further grow. Bacteria Causes this disease. Bacteria lives in soil enters the Rhizome portion through cuts , during wet and humid conditions and damages it. To prevent this, the Suckers used for plantation are to be disease free and pre treated well and dried before planting. All the tools used like knife, spade , etc., are to be disinfected often
  • Moko disease (Ralstania solanacearum)
    Leaves, especially older leaves gets discoloured become pale yellow, collapse suddenly spreads to the entire plant pseudostem breaks down. Bacteria causes this. Inspection of plantation on regular intervals for symptoms. If the disease is observed, remove the plant immediately and destroy. If necessary remove nearby plants also.
  • Yellow sigatoka (Mycosphaerella musea)
    Initially the disease starts as a small spot on the leaves developing into streaks with discoloration of the leaves turning in to brown colour and affects leaves totally. This is caused by carried spores of fungus which spread during rainy season by wind. Sufficient spacing between plants helps control this. Remove leaves with this symptom immediately and destroy. Spraying of fungicides on regular intervals controls this condition. Fungicide for this are 1. Copper oxychloride
    2.5 gm per litre, 2. Chlorothanil 2 gm per litre, 3. Carbendazim 1 gm per litre, 4. Benomyl 1 gm per litre, Mancozeb 2 gm per litre, 5. Ziram 2 ml per litre of water. With this solution add 5 ml of Sandovit, Triton AE or Teepol with 10 litre of spraying solution to get adhesion of fungicides to plant leaves. Start spraying from October at one month interval till flowering occurs. Change chemicals alternatively for every spray.
  • Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV)
    This disease affects mainly the crown portion resulting in the production of leaves as bunches with reduced size. Leaves get discoloured and stand erect. No Florescence in full form. This disease is caused by bunchy top virus, spread by Banana Aphids.
    Prevention measures are, always use disease free, pretreated suckers. For plants affected with this disease place capsule containing Fernoxone (2,4-D) 200 mg into the corn portion at 7 cm depth or apply 125 gm of Fernoxone solution mixed with 1 litre of water, into the corm with injection gun. After three to five days the plant will fall down. Remove the plant and destroy. To control the disease spray Phosphomidan @ 1 ml per litre or Monocrotophos @ 1 ml per 1 litre of water or Methyl Demeton @ 2 ml per litre os water into the crown and pseudostem up to ground level once in 21 days from panting at least three times also Inject 1 ml of Monocrotophos 36 WS with 4 ml water per plant once in every 45 days from third month till flowering. Injection of Monocrotophos to be stopped once flowering takes place.
  • Panama Disease (Fusarium oxysporum)
    This Disease is caused by soil fungus Fusarium, which enters the trunks and leaves of Banana pseudostem through water available at the roots. It produces a form of gel. The gel blocks flow of water and nutrients to the plant resulting in wilting of the plant leaves and sheaths and drying. Eventually the plant dies. This is a deadly disease. Use of Disease free Suckers is one way to prevent this. Planting Disease resistant varieties is another way of avoiding the disease. Corm injection with fungicide from the beginning of planting helps control this disease. For this small portion of the corm portion is exposed by removal of little soil at the bottom of the plant and one hole is made at 45 degree angle for a depth of 10 cm. In this a capsule containing 60 mg of Carbendazim or 50 mg of Pseudomonas fluorescens to be placed with the help of corm injector during second, fourth and sixth month after planting is done. The varieties Poovan, Robusta are known to be resistant to this disease. Completely remove the affected plants and destroy. Apply 1 to 2 kg of lime in the pits after removal of affected plants.
  • Anthracnose (Collectotrichum musae)
    This disease affects fruits. Caused by fungus. Brown and black spots appear on the skin portion. This affects the quality and marketability of fruit. This condition is arrived due to rain fall through the bunches and wet conditions helps growth of the fungus. Cover the Bunch with polythene bags with perforated holes so as to prevent rain water falling directly on the bunches. Spraying of Carbendazim 0.1% or Bordeaux mixture 1% helps control this condition. It is recommended to dip the harvested bunches in a solution of Carbendazim 400 ppm or Benomyl 1000 ppm before shipping for marketing.
  • Cigar end rot (Verticillium fructigena) (Trachysphaera theobromae)
    This Disease is caused by fungus on the fruits mainly through left over flower parts on the tip of the fruits. The tips of the fruits become dry and thick blackened if affected by Verticillium and if affected by Trachyspharea; the tips of the fingers is covered with white spots similar to the appearance of ashes at cigar end resulting in poor quality of yield and unable to market. Dry flowers to be removed from the bunches in the plant immediately. The bunches are to be covered with polythene bags with perforated holes.

###Deficiencies and Disorders
Banana requires more potassium, it is necessary for good results. To meet the requirement during the plant growth, application of 100 gm per plant in two intervals has to be resorted. After that during flowering period, another course of application of Potassium at the rate of 100 gm per plant in two equal intervals is required.
For requirement of Calcium, which is necessary for better yield, Addition of Dolomite (Mg2CO3) and Lime stone (CaCO3) will meet the requirement. For Magnesium (Mg) deficiencies Foliar spraying MgSO4 will provide the requirement. In case of Sulphur requirement the leaves and pseudostem supplies it from shooting stage. Foliar spraying of Zinc Sulphate (ZnSO4) - 0.5%, Iron (II) Sulfate (FeSO4) - 0.2%, Copper Sulfate (CuSO4) - 0.2% and Boric Acid (H3BO3) - 0.1% combination during third, Fifth and Seventh months after planting improves yield qualitatively and quantitatively.

Harvesting and Yield

Generally harvesting can be done after 12 to 15 months of planting depending upon the variety planted. Once flowering is attained, it requires about 100 to 150 days for attaining ripe stage for harvest. When Bananas reach plump stage, with the sides slightly swelled and edges smoothened out, it is ready for harvesting. Not all Bananas attain harvesting stage simultaneously. Whenever a Banana plant is flowering and peduncles come out, it should be tagged with date so that we can decide on the maturity of the bunches before harvesting. When the bunches reach 70 to 80% maturity, they can be harvested if required for long distance transportation, or before 7 to 12 days of ripening for local use. Never allow fruits to ripe in plant. They will be less sweetier and in taste too. Cut the peduncle at about 30 cm above the first hand. Cut with a sharp sickle in one cut. Do not allow the bunches to touch the soil or the fruits get any injury while harvesting or handling after harvest. Carefully place the bunches padded in baskets. For local consumption, the stalks with bunches can be given, that too with proper handling and avoiding any injury to the fruits. Harvested bunches should not be kept under refrigerated condition. This will make the fruit discoloured, blackening and unfit for ripening properly, due to very low temperature inside the refrigerator. This condition is called chilling injury. After the stalks with bunches are harvested, cut the top portion of the tree at neck portion, leaving the pseudostem to stand with sheaths. This will serve as source of food for the second ratooning of the plant. The plant will be ready for second harvest after 10 months of the first harvest from mother plant and for third harvest from about 9 months. Thus in a period of about 30 months the plantation gives three harvests.
One case study about successful farmer of Uttar Pradesh was on one acre of land following tissue culture farming, planting 1,100 plants per acre maintaining plant distance of 2 x 2 meters. After first harvest the trunk of the mother plant was left at neck height, and fertiliser application was reduced by half against the recommended doses. This has hastened crop harvesting time by two and half months earlier than normal and the bunches produced were 10 Kg more in weight for the plantation done when the trunks were cut at base level. In total per plant expenditure at Rs 60 to 70 and gross income at Rs 300, he was able to get good profit. Secondly, the standing tree provided food to suckers at much higher rate as could be synthesized by suckers for growth and development. The observations indicated about 10 kg per plant higher fruiting than the plots from where the trunks were removed from the base of the harvest.

Cost of Cultivation

Activity Cost in Rs
Field Preparation 6000
Nursery and Planting/Sowing 8000
Weeding 8000
Plant Protection 10000
Fertilizers 10000
Wages 6000
Stacking, Transport & Other expenses 8000
Total 56000

Total cost of cultivation/ha : Rs 56000
Average Yield : 40 Mt
Price range : Rs 5 to 12 per Kg
Profit at minimum price : Rs 200,000
Net Profit : (200000 - 56000) = Rs 1,44000

Marketing

In India marketing of Banana is done by many intermediaries before it reaches the consumer, from wholesaler to commission agents and sub agent to local trader it involves five stages. This denies fair price for the farmer and more cost for the consumer. Only 0.05% of the Total production is exported. All other production goes to local consumption.
It is an irony that though India leads in world production of Banana, our exports are restricted to only Middle east countries. There Is lot of scope for exporting to other countries. But availability of quality fruits from India is a constraint. If steps are taken to supply fruits to the expected quality, India can also be a leading exporter.

Post Harvest Technology

The process of marketing to be preceded by proper grading, storage and packing to enable successful marketing.
It is to be ensured that the fruits are of uniform size and colour and maturity. Overripe and damaged and cut fruits are to be taken out. The fruits are harvested a little earlier for early capture of market. In this stage controlled ripening of fruits is achieved with application of low doses of Ethrel and store them in controlled temperature at 15 degrees centigrade to 18 degrees centigrade temperature without loss of quality. They can be stored in Ethylene free conditions up to 3 weeks and under controlled temperature conditions at 14 degrees centigrade up to six weeks.
In India generally for the purpose of packing and transportation of Bananas, Gunny bags, Card board boxes and wooden cases are used with wrappings of Banana leaves as packing material. In some cases plastic sheets are also used. This results in transit damage and causes loss of quality which in turn reflects in reduction in profit. In order to avoid this, scientific methods of packing and transportation can be followed.
Packaging of fruits individually or as hands as preferred, has to be done in Polythene bags of 100 gauge with perforated holes. This ensures some breathing for the fruits and avoids fungus formation.This increases shelf life of fruits. It is preferable to keep the fruits and cold storage under controlled temperature conditions.
For export purpose or long distance transportation to high end markets, the fruits are to be packed in specially prepared packings. First the fruits are to be separated from hands and graded for equal ripening and size, without any external damages to the skin. First they are to be washed in water and next in dilute Sodium hypochloride solution to remove latex from the fruits. Later to be dipped in 0.1% Carbendazim solution and kept in the shade for drying in air. After they are dry, they are to be wrapped in foam like material and kept in Plastic Corrugated Fiber board cartons, which have capacity to hold 15 Kg of the fruit, in weight and volume. These boxes are to be kept at cold storage at 13 to 15 degrees Centigrade Temperature and 80 to 90 % Humidity. In this manner Bananas can be kept for a period of up to 25 days. While exporting they are to be stored in 13 degrees Centigrade in cold storage.

Reserved for additional information