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Banana Production Kit: Banana Field Planting and Cultural Management Part 1

Site Selection
For bananas to thrive optimally and give high yields, certain requirements must be met. When selecting a site for your field, it is advisable to take these factors into account.

Soil Requirements
Bananas prefer soil that has the following characteristics:
  • Deep, friable and loamy soil with a high nutrient and water holding capacity and with good drainage and aeration.
  • Good depth for root development (about 0.75 m), medium high clay content and medium high cation exchange capacity.
  • pH range of 4.5 to 7.5
Climatic Requirements
  • Temperature: 150C to 350C (warm and moist regions)
  • Rainfall: not less than 100 mm per month, preferably 200 to 220 mm per month unless good irrigation facilities are available
  • Wind: avoid typhoon-prone areas
  • Planting should be in time with the season
Other considerations
  • prevalence of diseases and pests
  • availability and cost of labour
  • nearness to roads
  • cost of land

Land Preparation
Land preparation depends on the site:

Flat land previously planted with other crops should be disc ploughed and harrowed to 0.5 m depth 2 to 3 times. Ripping of the soil will break up any compacted layers. No plowing or harrowing is needed in forests.

Steep slopes are at risk to erosion. Hand preparation and limited tillage is recommended to avoid erosion. It is also important to work along the contour lines.

Planting density
There are several factors that need to be considered in determining plant densities.

Generally, you can follow these guidelines:

Use lower densities when

  • Growing tall varieties
  • Soil fertility is high
  • Climate is tropical
  • No irrigation is present
  • Uniformity is important
  • High bunch weight and fruit size, good fruit quality and shelf life are more important than total yield per area
  • Leaf spot diseases are a major problem in the area
  • Erosion is not a problem


See Field Design Below for Recommended Spacing

    Use higher densities when

    • Growing dwarf varieties
    • Soil fertility is low
    • Climate is temperate
    • Irrigation is present
    • Uniformity is less important
    • High total yield per area is more important than individual bunch weight and fruit size, fruit quality and shelf life
    • Leaf spot diseases are not a major problem in the area
    • The area is prone to erosion


    High Density Planting (HDP) is normally refers to planting at a spacing than the usual recommended spacing.
      Field design
      There are several possible field designs for banana planting:
      • Single rows
        • In single row planting, the distance within the row is close, whereas the distance between the row is wide.
        • This system allows good aeration to plant canopy, allowing wet leaves to dry more rapidly, reducing fungal disease severity.
        • In this, less number of trees occupied in the field and yield will automatically reduced.

        Recommended Spacing

      • Double rows
        • In this method, the distance between the two lines is 0.90 to 1.20 m. while plant to plant distance is 1.2 to 2 m.
        • Due to this spacing, intercultural operations can be carried out easily and cost of drip irrigation is decreased.
        Recommended Spacing

      • Square system
        • This is the most commonly followed system and is very easy to layout.
        • Banana is mostly cultivated by adopting 1.8x1.8m spacing
        • In this system, trees are planted on each comer of a square whatever may be the planting distance.
        • The central place between four trees may be advantageously used to raise short lived filler trees.
        • This system permits inter cropping and cultivation in two directions.
        Recommended Spacing:
        4.0m x 4.0m =625 hills
        2.0m x 2.0m =2,500 hill
        3.0m x 3.0m =1,111 hills

      • Quincunx system
        • Makes use of a square with an additional (fifth) tree in the center
        • Maximum utilization of the areas during the early growing and fruiting years
        • Large tree population can be planted
        Recommended Spacing

      • Triangular system
        • This system is best suited for tissue culture banana suckers.
        • In this, adopt spacing in between rows was 1.5m and plant to plant was 1.8m in the row.
        • The trees are planted as in square system but the difference being that those in the even numbered rows are midway between those in the odd rows instead of opposite to them.
        • The distance between any two adjacent trees in a row is equal to the perpendicular distance between any two adjacent rows.
        • When compared to square system, each tree occupies more area and hence it accommodates few trees per hectare than the square system.
        Recommended Spacing
      The following factors will influence your choice of field design:
      • Maintenance of appropriate space to avoid damage to fruits through contact with neighboring plants.
      • Irrigation and drainage systems
      • Field typography
      • Degree of mechanization and use of equipment
      • Double rows provide high yields in plant crops and cheaper, more effective bunch support with twine is possible as well as bunch
      • covering, pest control, assessing readiness for harvest and harvesting itself.
      • Cultivation system or intercropping
      This depends on the availability of water (rain and/or irrigation) and planting materials. It is recommended to plant at the beginning of or early in the rainy season to take advantage of the longest possible period of growth with adequate moisture.

      If no irrigation is available, planting should not be later than 6 weeks before the onset of the dry season. Avoid the harvesting period that coincides with the typhoon season. Preparation of Planting Holes for Tissue Culture Plants

      1. Dig a deep planting hole (10 to 15 cm below the soil surface) large enough for the in-vitro plant and the ball of earth around the roots.
      2. If the area is infested with Fusarium wilt and nematodes, it is recommended to burn the planting holes with rice hull. If enough rice hulls are available, cover the whole field with a layer of rice hulls of 15 to 30 cm depth and burned.
      3. A pre-plant fertilizer may be applied but this is not necessary. Avoid damage to the young plant. When digging the planting hole, separate the top soil from the lower soil, place the fertilizer on the bottom of the hole and cover with top soil. The remaining soil is used to fill up the planting hole. The roots of the plantlet will not be burned by the fertilizer and the use of the more fertile topsoil is maximized.
      4. Water the plantlets well after planting.
      5. Fertilizer is usually applied soon after the establishment of the plant.

      Field Planting
      1. Plant in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid stress of the plant due to the heat.
      2. Water plants well just before planting, transport to the prepared field and place them next to the planting hole.
      3. Strip off the bottom part of the polyethylene bag to avoid damaging the root system during planting.
      4. Place the plant in the planting hole and partly cover it with soil to provide stability to the plant and its root-soil clump in the bag. Gently pull the polyethylene bag (without its bottom) over the stem and the leaves of the plant.
      5. Add more soil to the planting hole.

      After planting, always remember to:
      1. Water the field if necessary and feasible since in vitro plants cannot withstand dry weather conditions as well as conventional suckers and corms.
      2. Provide special attention to the plants for the first 3 to 4 months after field planting.
      3. Keep plants free from weeds.
      4. Make sure that the plants are mulched, manured and fertilized according to recommended cultural practices.
      5. Adopt suitable preventive plant-protection measures for better growth and development.

      Preparation for Conventional Planting
      In selecting a sucker:
      • The best planting material is a sword sucker about 0.5 to 0.75 m tall
      • Detach sucker from mother plant
      • Cut off stem 10 cm above corm
      • Remove roots and adhering soil
      Suckers of Mama Sita banana at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. They are ready for planting.
      In selecting corms:
      • Select corm from vigorous plant, at least 6 months old that has not bunched yet, with cut top 10 to 15 cm in diameter, a minimum of 1 good bud and weighing at least 0.5 kg.
      • Trim corm, remove all soil and roots by paring off outer skin and rotting tissues.
      a banana corm growing from loamy soil
      In selecting bits:
      • Select bright pink, swollen, 2 to 3 cm bud or eye (mostly 2 upper buds).
      • Split corm and attached pseudostem into 2 or 3 wedge shaped pieces, positioning the eye in the center of each bit.
      • Each bit should weigh 1 to 1.5 kg and should have at least 75 mm of corm tissue on either side and behind the bud.

      Conventional planting materials should be carefully trimmed followed by treatment in hot water of 50 to 550C for 15 to 20 minutes.

      Corms and bits can also be dipped in a commercial nematicide, fungicide or insecticide solution but these are highly toxic. Air-dry for 5 to 15 minutes in the shade. Place the planting materials in a sanitary place 24 to 48 hours before planting.

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