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Banana Production Kit: Banana Propagation

After deciding which variety to grow, the next important decision is on what type of planting materials to use.

Remember that there are two ways to propagate bananas:
1. Conventional method through suckers and corms
2. Tissue culture

A. Conventional planting

Suckers are the most commonly used planting materials. A sucker is an offshoot from the base of a parent plant.

Types of suckers:

This is a very young sucker that starts to emerge from the mother plant without definite organs. This is only utilized for establishing nurseries.

Water Sucker
This type of sucker is either not strongly attached to the mother plant or comes from an old deteriorating corm. It has broad leaves but lacks vigor, therefore is not advisable to be used for field planting.

Sword sucker
This is the best type for starting a new field. Its leaves are cone-shaped and not developed. Since it is strongly connected to the mother plant, it receives all support and nutrients. This sucker produces wide leaves resembling those of the mature plant but smaller in size. It has sufficient corm development to be transplanted.

Corms refer to rhizomes in which the central point is absent and a side bud will produce a new plant.
Bits are cut corms with a mature bud or eye.Bits are cut corms with a mature bud or eye.

B. Tissue Culture

This is a technique that is also known as in-vitro culture or micropropagation.

Plants are grown under sterile conditions on artificial medium (i.e., in glass bottles in a laboratory). The meristem of the banana plant located on top of the corm is cut out, sterilized and placed on agar in a glass bottle. This meristem will develop into new plants.

Conventional method or tissue culture?

To determine which method will be used in propagating bananas, it is best to consider the following advantages and disadvantages:

Conventional (suckers or corms)

  • Requires less inputs
  • Not as fragile as tissue cultured plants
  • Does not require extra care and special nursery conditions
  • Can be immediately planted to the field

  • Lesser yield and slow growth
  • Low quantity of planting materials that can be produced from the mother plants
  • Easily infected with pests and diseases from mother plant

Tissue culture

  • Clean or disease free planting material provided that they are properly indexed for viruses
  • High rates of multiplication
  • Rapid and uniform plant growth
  • Shorter harvest to harvest topling
  • Requires acclimatization
  • Higher susceptibility to diseases if re-infected
  • Higher susceptibility to herbicide damage
  • Tendency to develop floating mats resulting to higher risk of toppling after topling
Nursery Management for Tissue Cultured Plants

Tissue cultured plants are produced in a safe environment and grown in nutrient-rich, artificial medium under controlled conditions. Thus, these plants must be acclimatized to the outside environment through a hardening phase in the nursery.

If you decide to use tissue cultured plants, you have two choices:

1) Buy meriplants from a tissue culture laboratory and do the hardening phase yourself or;
2) The best option is to buy ready-for-field plantlets from a nursery so you can skip nursery management.

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