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Profitable Banana Production


There are certain practices to ensure that saba production will be a profitable farming endeavor. These include the distance of planting, fertilizer application, irrigation and drainage, proper sanitation, desuckering and pruning, weeding and cultivation, and fruit care.


Plant saba or cardaba at  a distance ranging from 4 m to 7 m. This distance of planting will result in 204–625 plants per hectare. The distance can be adjusted depending   on the fertility and depth of soil and sufficiency of water supply.

It is best to plant at the onset of the rainy season to provide enough moisture to newly planted suckers or plantlets. However, saba can be planted anytime of the year, if enough water is available. Dig holes about 40–60 cm wide and   50–80 cm deep. In each hole, place 1 kg of organic fertilizer or 200 g of complete fertilizer (14-14-14), then cover with a thin layer of soil before setting the sucker or plantlet.   Cover the roots of plants with soil, then press around the base of the seedling to remove air spaces in the hole.

Fertilizer application

Fertilization is required to produce optimum yield. Fertilizer application should be based on the result of the soil analysis, crop removal, and target yield. Generally, high levels of nitrogen and potassium fertilizer is necessary. Nitrogen and potassium are required during the early stage of growth until bud formation. A second application of potassium is needed between bud formation and harvesting. Apply fertilizer in fractional doses at least four times in a year.  Make sure to apply fertilizer when moisture is present or available.

Irrigation and Drainage

Irrigation is needed when the amount of rain falls below 10 cm/ month. Inadequate moisture in the soil leads to slower growth and smaller bunches and fingers. Apply water through furrow irrigation, overhead sprinklers, and drip irrigation.

Drainage is important to prevent water logging. The drainage system may consist of the main canal and a series of secondary and tertiary canals depending on the type of farm, extent of rainfall, topography, soil texture, and management.

Stem and Mat SanitationSanitation significantly eliminates the habitat of some insect pests. In cleaning the banana plant, cut off the dried stalk and leaves. Pile them in between plots or around the mat 30–60 cm from the base of the plant. If they are diseased, burn or bury them. Maintain a clean plantation, by regularly cutting off dried stalks and leaves every 45–60 days.

Desuckering or PruningDesuckering is done once a month to maintain the desired population and minimize competition for sunlight, water, and nutrients among the plants in a mat or hill. Ideally, allow 1–3 suckers in a mat, depending on the scheme being followed. Remove unwanted suckers by cutting the pseudo stem as close to the ground as possible. Remove the growing point to prevent regrowth.

Leaf PruningThe primary purpose of this activity is to reduce the amount of inoculum of leaf diseases and minimize the chance of burning.  Cut off the dry and diseased leaves once a month.

For leaves with less than 50% infection, trim off the infected parts only.

Weeding and CultivationSaba banana, like any other crop, requires clean culture. However, it needs little or zero cultivation because of its shallow root system. Weeds can be controlled by mechanical and chemical means. Mechanical weeding can be done through slashing and ring weeding. Slashing is more practical on newly established plantations while ring weeding is usually done by removing the weeds within a radius of 0.75–1 m from the base of the plant three weeks after planting and before fertilizer application. Mulching is also an alternative weed control method.

Fruit Care

Remove obstacles to fruit formation by removing the leaves that touch the fruit. After the last hand appeared, remove the male to channel food produced by the plant to the developing fruit. This increases the size of the fingers in the bunch.


Depending on the distance from the market, banana should be harvested green at varying stages of maturity.

Saba bananas for local or nearby market should be harvested a few days before they ripen. Fruits transported to distant places must be picked when they are less mature with plainly visible edges.

The angularity or fullness of the fingers is the standard maturity index of banana. Fruits are classified as three quarters, full three quarters, or full. Three quarter fruits are those with a clearly visible angle about ½ of their maximum size. Full three quarter fruits have less prominent angles while full stage fruits have virtually disappearing angles.

Saba banana is usually harvested at 150–180 days after shooting. The pseudo stem should be cut back at a height of 1.5 m after the bunch is removed.

PFN No.  6858  April–June  2012
Source:   Cagayan  Valley  Agriculture  and  Resources Research and
Development  Consortium  (CVARRD).    Profitable  banana
production.   Los Baños, Laguna: PCARRD-DOST, CVARRD-ISU,

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