Banana Farming in India: What, Why and How?

Banana Farming in India: What, Why and How?

Climate Information for Banana Farming.
Banana is basically a tropical crop, grows well in the temperature range of 13ºC – 38ºC with an RH regime of 75-85%. In India, this crop is being cultivated in climates ranging from humid tropical to dry mild subtropics through the selection of appropriate varieties like Grandniece. Chilling injury occurs at temperatures below 12ºC. The normal growth of the banana begins at 18ºC, reaches optimum at 27ºC, then declines and comes to a halt at 38ºC. Higher temperature causes sun scorching. The high-velocity wind which exceeds 80 km phrs damages the crop.

Banana Farming

Suitable soil for Banana Farming.
Soil for bananas should have good drainage, adequate fertility and moisture. Deep, rich loamy soil with a pH between 6-7.5 are most preferred for banana cultivation. Ill drained, poorly aerated and nutritionally deficient soils are not suitable for bananas. Saline solid, calcareous soil is not suitable for Banana cultivation. Avoided soil of low lying areas, very sandy & heavy black cotton with ill drainage.

Recommended Sowing Times for Banana Farming.

For Kharif - May-June or September-October and for Rabi February and March is the optimum time for banana planting. Tissue culture plants can be planted throughout the year except when the temperature is too low or too high.

Land Preparation for Banana Farming.

Banana Farming

Plough the land thoroughly at least for 3-4 times and add about 10 tonnes of well rotten FYM or Compost during the last plough and mix it well or add 10-15 kg FYM/ Compost per pit of 60x60x60 cm dimension.

Sowing methods and tips for Banana Farming.

Select ‘Sword Suckers’ with broad corn with narrow sword-like leaves, from viral, fungal and bacterial disease-free mother plants. The suckers should be 3-5 months old, uniform in size, weighing 1-1.5 kg for Nendran, Rasthali, Ney Poovan and Poovan Banana varieties. For long-duration varieties like Karpuravalli and Red Banana, slightly big suckers weighing 1.5-2.0 kg should be used. For a planting of ‘Tissue Culture’ plants, the secondary hardened plant should be about 30 cm tall, 5 cm girth with at least five fully opened healthy leaves and true to type. The selected suckers should be ‘pared’ by trimming off all the roots along with surface layers superficially to remove any rotten portion of the corm.

Banana Farming

Irrigation Methods for Banana Farming.

Dip the paired suckers in 0.2% Carbendazim (2g/liter of water) solution for about 15 –20 minutes as a prophylactic measure against Fusarium wilt disease. Keep the treated suckers in shade overnight before planting. Plant the suckers in the center of the pit and press the soil around the suckers firmly. Apply 40 g of Carbofuron granules per pit to protect the plants against nematode attack and irrigate the field thoroughly. In case of tissue culture plants, one week before planting applies 10 g Carbofuron and 1.0 % bleaching powder or 0.2 % Emissan in 100 ml water as drench into the polythene bags to protect against nematode infestation and bacterial rot (Erwinia Rot) disease respectively. Banana sucker is planted in a pit size of 45 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm or 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm. Pits are left open in the sun; it will help in killing the harmful insects. Fill pits with topsoil mixed with 10 kg of FYM or well decomposed cow dung, Neem cake@250 gm and Carbofuran@20 gm. Plant suckers in the center of the pit and gently pressed the soil around it. Avoid deep planting. In north India, coastal belt and areas having high humidity and low temperature i.e. below 5-7ºC, the planting distance should not be less than 2.1m x 1.5m. A complete fertilizer with a ratio of 3:1:6 of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium is generally suitable for most Banana plantations. The first application of fertilizer at the rate of 100 grams per plant can be made as

Fertilizer Requirement for Banana Farming.

Soon as the plant begins to grow. Subsequent application of fertilizer should be applied as frequently as possible i.e. once every week if possible. The best approach is to apply a smaller quantity of fertilizer but more frequently. For better taste and quality, try applying only organic fertilizers. It is advisable to water and fertilize at the same time to help Bananas grow. If the water system is not available (i.e. fertigation or pipes), the best  time for application of fertilizer is after rain. Important note: Apply fertilizer one (1) inch away from the leaf and not directly on the stem of the plant for best results. It is known that Banana roots grow approximately an inch every day (at an optimal growth). On sloping terrain, apply fertilizer only on the up hillside. Banana is a shallow-rooted crop that requires a large quantity of water for increasing productivity. Overall it requires 70-75 irrigations for a good yield. Provide irrigation at an interval of 7-8 days in winter whereas in summer provide irrigation at an interval of 4-5 days. In the rainy season, provide irrigation if required. Remove excess water from the field as it will affect plant establishment and growth.

Seeds Requirements for Banana Farming.

8000 to 10000 plants are required for one hectare.

Banana Farming

Seed Treatment for Banana Farming.

Dip the paired suckers in 0.2% Carbendazim (2g/liter of water) solution for about 15 –20 minutes as a prophylactic measure against Fusarium wilt disease. Keep the treated suckers in shade overnight before planting. Plant the suckers in the center of the pit and press the soil around the suckers firmly. Apply 40 g of Carbofuron granules per pit to protect the plants against nematode attack and irrigate the field thoroughly.

Best Seed varieties for Banana Farming.

Nendran, Rasthali, Ney Poovan , Poovan , Karpuravalli, Red Banana.

Best Practices for Banana Farming.

Keep the plantation weed-free. Banana plants grow notably slower with the presence of weeds because parts of the water and nutrients are absorbed by the weeds. Five (5) or six (6) manual weddings should suffice after which the growth of weeds is rather impossible when Banana plants reach mature size. Alternatively, mulching is advisable to reduce the growth of weed. Intercropping can be profitable. Short durational crops (45-60 days) can be planted between rows of plants. However, intercropping is only possible during the early stage of the plantation.

Desuckering / Pruning: One mother plant and two followers. Keeping too many sucking plants will reduce yields. It is advisable to remove all suckers once the desired followers have been selected. An age interval of 2 months between the mother plant and subsequently each of the followers is most desirable as these followers will become your main stem after the mother plant fruits. The most effective method to permanently remove unwanted suckers is to cut the stem off the ground and then cut into the center of the plant. This should kill the sucker.

Deflowering: Remove the “Bell” (the purple flower petals at the end of the bunch – also known as “banana blossom” or “banana heart“). This is generally practiced because this way, Banana plant will conserve its energy into growing bigger bunch and not longer stalk. ) Pruning of leaves: Old leaves and infected leaves should be pruned regularly. This will reduce the likelihood of leaf diseases and keep the plantation tidy. Furthermore, it provides natural mulch to the Banana plants. Bunch covering increases the weight and enhances the quality of fruit. Traditionally, Banana growers protect the bunch from sunburn by placing dry leaves on the top hand of the bunch but this is not practical during the rainy season and can be time-consuming. Commercial growers, however, use blue plastic sleeves. This practice is to protect Bananas from insects, sunburn, diseases, spray residue, dust and birds. Covering the Banana bunch increases the temperature within which helps in early maturity.

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