Vital operations for successful banana cultivation

Desuckering: The removal of suckers, dry leaves and pseudostems, from which the fruits have been harvested, constitute the main after-care. Daughter suckers should be removed promptly until the mother plant flowers. However, one daughter sucker is allowed when the mother plant flowers. Desuckering can also be achieved by pouring kerosene oil.

Mulching: Mulching is required to conserve soil moisture, increase the number of feeder rootsand thereby improve the nutrient and water use efficiency and also suppress weed growth, which helps in enhancing the yield by 30-40%.

Removal of withered styles and perianth: Generally, this is not a common practice, however, it helps in eliminating the spread of infection by the  saprophyte fungi especially to avoid the finger tip disease. They can be easily removed by a light brushing movement of the hand a few days after flowering. If it is delayed, it becomes difficult to remove and later they turn brown and shrivelled.  

Pruning of leaves: Dead leaves are to be removed from the plant inorder to reduce diseasespread, to prevent senescent leaves from hanging over suckers and reducing light and to prevent fruit scarring. Atleast 6-8 leaves should be retained on the plant at flowering, to ensure maximum bunch development. 

Earthing up: Earthing up is essential in the crop and ensured by loosening the soil around the base of the plant for formation of better root system and also to provide support to the base. It should be done at rainy season for avoiding waterlogged conditions. It also provides proper drainage facilities to the plant. 

Denavelling and bunch thinning: The removal of the male bud after completion of female phase is known as denavelling. It checks the movement of photosynthates into the unwanted sink and promotes better fruit development.The bottom of the bunch has 3-4 small hands, which should be removed in order to facilitate uniform bunch development and retain only 7-8 hands.

Peduncle wrapping: The peduncle is the main nutrient, photosynthate, water conducting bridge between the developing bunch and the plant. During bunch maturation period, due to bright sunshine, there are possibilities of scorching injury on peduncle. This will pave way for secondary infection by any fungi or bacteria. Once the peduncle gets affected, the nutrient, photosynthate and water flow from plant to developing bunch will be arrested and it will lead to immature ripening or immature falling of bunches. So, during peak summer, banana bunch peduncle exposed to scorching sun should be wrapped with flag leaf or banana leaf trashes. Peduncle of the bunch may be covered with the flag leaf to prevent main stalk rot.

Propping: Banana pseudostem, at the time of bunch emergence requires support, which may be done by bamboos, coir or polythene wire. Usually, tall varieties which produces heavy bunches need propping. Bamboo poles or Casuarina poles which have effective life of 3-4 years are commonly used for propping. 

Bunch covering: Covering bunches with gunny cloth or polythene protects the fruit from sunburn, hotwind and dust. It is generally practiced in Cavendish group and Nendran bananas to get attractive colour. Perforated/ polybags when used for bunch covering increase yield by 15-20%. 

Article contributed by Azeze Seyie, Aabon W Yanthan, C Aochen, Pempa L Bhutia and H Kalita, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Nagaland Centre