For growth and prosperity

For growth and prosperity

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Banana bunch bursting out (emerging out) sideways through pseudostem:

A peculiar phenomenon of Banana bunch bursting out
(emerging out) sideways through pseudostem:

There are many theories explaining the reason for the ‘Banana bunch bursting out (emerging) sideways through pseudostem’ instead of emerging normally through the top of it. Some of them are discussed here :

Banana Bunch side emergence
  • Theory 1:  
During low winter temperature there is reduction in the length of leaf inter-node as well as reduced elongation of bunch stem. 

This physiological feature causes a constriction at the throat of the plant for the bunch to emerge through the throat. Subsequently the bunch bursts out through the pseudostem.
Sometimes, the top hands got trapped in the throat of the pseudostem giving it a 'Choked throat' appearance. (Distal part of bunch comes out and the basal part gets stuck up at the throat)

Banana Bunch bursts out of pseudostem

  • Theory 2:   Water stress.
  • Theory 3:    Virus infection.
  • Theory 4: If the Pseudostem weevil attacks the plant during the advanced pre-flowering stage, the ascending flower bud and peduncles are destroyed resulting in non emergence of the flower bud resulting in choked throat appearance and subsequent emergence of bunch sideways by breaking of Pseudostem. 
  • Theory 5:   Though there are some proponents that this phenomenon is due to Macro or Micronutrient deficiency, it was never proved. 
1.  The emerged bunch will be smaller in size with few hands and immature fingers.
2.  Even in extreme cases this phenomenon is observed in only 0.25 to 0.5% of the total plants in the affected field.

A.Vishnu Sankar

Saturday, 20 December 2014

How to select good quality Tissue Culture Plants and the supplying Biotech company ?

Selection of Plant Tissue Culture Biotech Company and the ways to purchase good quality Tissue Culture Banana Plants from them:
A Plant Growth Room (PGR) in a Tissue culture Lab
A model DBT Certificate (Blank)

  • Always procure plants from biotech companies having 'DBT' (Department of Biotechnology) certificate and those who maintain consistency in plant quality and a good brand image. 
  • Never purchase from brokers, dealers and agents who may issue their own Invoice instead of Invoice from Biotech Company which supplies the plants.
  • Sales Invoice is one of the main proof of purchase. It should bear details of variety of the plant (say ‘Grande Naine’, ‘Red Banana’), date of purchase, date of delivery and the quantity in numbers clearly without any ambiguity. Don't accept Delivery Challans in lieu of Sales Invoice.
  •  Get receipt for the payment made for the purchase.
  • The buyer has to visit the supplier’s nursery for on the spot assessment of quality of plants to his satisfaction before asking them to deliver the plants to his farm site. 
  •  The selected secondary hardened plants should be well hardened for a min of 45 days, about 30 cm tall,  5 cm girth (girth of our index finger) with at least 5 to 6 fully opened healthy leaves.

    An ideal Tissue Culture Banana
  •  At the nursery, insist the supplier to grade plants in your presence from the fresh nursery bed where no grading was done previously and if necessary pay them extra for this additional grading work. Some nurseries maintain separate beds for 'A', 'B' and 'C' grade plants discreetly. Make sure you are getting 'A' or a mixture of A and B grade plants only that will definitely perform well. Though this method of selection is not possible with bigger companies at least pay a visit to their nursery once. 
A banana Secondary Hardening Centre

    • At the nursery, avoid selecting plants from beds which were previously infected by Erwinia or Nematode and subsequently recovered.
    • Identification of Tissue Culture Off type banana plants: The supplier has to segregate ‘Off type plants’ which appears varying from normal plants at all stages of development i.e., both primary and secondary hardening stages and also during selection of plants for despatch to farmers. If the screening is not effective at the nursery, some of the 'Off-type' plants will find their way to the field along with normal plants. In Tissue Culture trade and Biotechnology norms about 1 to 2% 'Off-types' in a banana field is considered as normal. Performance of these off type plants are observed as:(1) inherently weak (2) unacceptable percentage of survival and sometimes death of plants (3) poor bunch with no economic value (4) mostly without fruiting ....Etc., At best, they could be considered as ornamental plants. So, most effective screening is needed to weed out the following Off type plants:
      • Avoid 'Tall plants'. 
      • Avoid Plants with variegated leaves.
      • Avoid Plants with mosaic leaves.
      • Plants with high pigmentation in leaves.
      • Plants with deformed lamina.

    Tissue Culture Off type banana plants

    Tissue Culture Off type banana plants

      • Avoid Dwarf plants:
      • Avoid ‘Overage’ plants:
    Tissue Culture Banana - Overage plants

      • Avoid ‘Virus infected’ plants.
      • Avoid plants with Micronutrient deficiency:

    • Various types of nursery Pots, Bags and Trays:

      a) Secondary Hardening Tray or 8 Cavity Pro-tray :  
      Tissue Culture Banana plants are nowadays raised in plastic trays (Made from Polystyrene (HIPS) in thermo-forming machines) during secondary hardening stage. 
        Plants in Secondary hardening Tray

      M/s.Jain irrigations Ltd., is the pioneer in this technology and started supplying banana plants to farmers in these ‘TC Banana hardening trays’ on large scale from the year 2012. Merits of using the trays are ease of handling, faster loading and unloading of plants and most of all low cost when compared to poly bags. 
      TC plants supplied to the farmers through these 8 cavity pro-trays (Size of a TC Banana hardening tray 32cm x 16cm, Cavity top 6.5cm x 6.5cm, Cavity bottom 5cm x 5cm, Depth 10 cm and with a excess water draining hole at the bottom) are initially not received well because the volume of growth media is less when compared to Poly bags hitherto supplied to them, resulting in heavy mortality in the field especially during summer months due to transplant shock. No complaints were received from the farmers during other seasons.
      b) Secondary Hardening in Jiffy pots or bags: Some companies are supplying Tissue Culture Banana Plants in ‘Jiffy pots/bags’. For more details about ‘Jiffy bags’ click this link: Plants in Jiffy Bags.
      Banana Plant in Jiffy bag with well formed root system
      Tray holding Banana Plants in Jiffy bags

      • First 3 months from the date of planting is a very crucial development period for the plant. Make sure that any technical person from the company visits your field at least two to three times during that period and obtain ‘Field Visit Report’ or ‘Plant care recommendations note’ from him for your records. If possible maintain ‘Farming record’ and photographs of fields in all stages of plant development.
      • Do not blame the supplier about quality of the plant after planting Banana in poor  unfertile soils and without following any recommended cultivation practices. 
      • It is not advisable to store the purchased plant without planting for more than 3 or 4 days.  If the planting gets postponed for more than a week due to any unavoidable circumstances, follow the maintenance schedule given here under: 
        • Immediately on receipt of the plants apply 10 gram of  Carbofuron 3G in the polythene bag and drench the plant with ‘All 19’ water soluble foliar grade fertilizer 50 gm in 10 litres of water (Polyfeed) as foliar application. The same application without Carbofuran 3G can be repeated on every 3rd day.
        • Apply 100 ml of the following solution at the root zone : MAP 1 kg + Humic Acid 500 ml dissolved in 100 litres of water.
        • Three days before planting, apply 100 ml of the following preparation as drench into the polythene bags to wet the entire root zone:
          Mix 250 gm of Fytolan (Blue copper, COC, Copper Oxy-Chloride) + Streptomycin with Tetracycline ( Streptomil, Crocin ) which is available in 6gm pocket in the market, total 36 gm i.e 3 pockets + 100 litres of water. This application prevents Erwinia and root rot.
      A.Vishnu Sankar

      Saturday, 13 December 2014

      Banana Bunch Care and methods to maximize Bunch size

      Banana Bunch Care and some proven procedures 
      to maximize the Bunch size:
      To attain maximum yield in Banana cultivation, follow the latest cultivation practices give here:
      A model of 'DBT' certificate
      • Prefer Tissue culture banana plants from 'DBT' (Department of Biotechnology) certified biotech companies.
      • Avoid cultivating banana in problematic soils like ‘Acidic’, ‘Alkaline’ and ‘Saline’ soils.
      • Ensure irrigation water quality and avoid water with EC of >1.
      • Give priority to good water management (To avoid water Stress, go for Drip irrigation system).
      • Follow good Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices.
      • Follow good Integrated Disease Management (IDM) practices.
      • Strictly follow all the 'Bunch care techniques' explained here to maximize bunch size. Always bear in mind that the price of Banana is NOT directly in proportionate to the quality of produce. In the trading of banana, fruit quality is valued more in fixing the price. So, strive to achieve the best in quality.
          Details of Banana Bunch care & methods to enhance the bunch size:

      1. Bell injection -  Injection on inflorescence bud to control sucking insect pests infesting on developing fingers:

      Bell Injection is given when the emerging inflorescence (Flower) bud is in upright position. It gives complete protection from pests that damage the developing bunch as the bell emerges.
      The injection should be given at 1 / 4th place from top of the bud.

      To prevent clogging of the needle, first make a hole at the desired point with a small needle and then use the syringe.   

      Prepare a solution of Imidacloprid 17.8 EC (Brand: Confidor)    @ 0.2 ml in 1 litre of water and take 2 ml solution in a disposable Insulin syringe. Inject the entire 2 ml in the bud in a 30 degree angle.

      Prepare a solution of 0.1% (One ml in 1 litre of water) of Imidacloprid 17.8 EC (Brand: Confidor) and pump a full single dose of 40 ml of the solution into the flower bud thereby fully drenching the bud using "Banana Bell Injector pump". 

      Pictures courtesy: and

      2.  Banana Deflowering:
                      Banana Deflowering

      3.  Placing perforated sheet as cushion between separated hands:
      Placing perforated sheets between hands


      4.  De-navelling (Removal of male floral bud):

      It helps in fruit development and increase of bunch weight. 

      The male flower bud should be removed one month after emergence of the last hand. 

      By this removal of unwanted male flower bud, which is prone to infections, incidence of pest and disease attack on bunch can be minimized. 

      In some parts of Tamilnadu, farmers leave them as such up to the time of harvest, resulting in elongation of stem with the male flower bud up to the ground.

      5.  Covering the peduncle (Peduncle wrapping) to protect it from sunburn or scorching:
      Flag leaf / Boot leaf - Nature's umbrella Gift.
      A 'Boot leaf / Flag leaf ' emerges from the plant just before the bunch emergence and its main purpose is to protect the top curved part of the peduncle and upper portion of the bunch from sunburn or scorching. 

      If this natural protection gets damaged due to wind or pest attack, the upper exposed part of peduncle will get sun burned (Sun scorched). 

      This subsequently leads to rotting of peduncle due to secondary infection of 'Colletotrichum fungus'.  Incidence of sun scorching will be severe if bunch emergence coincides with hot summer months. Since nutrient and water flow from the main stem to bunch gets arrested, immature ripening will occur resulting in very poor bunch development and ultimately breaking of the peduncle along with the bunch.
      Remedial measures: 
      • To prevent sunburn and the resultant fungal infections, the peduncle exposed to scorching sun should be wrapped with the flag leaf and other banana leaf trashes.
      • If the sun scorching happens before initiating any protective measure, apply a thick solution of 2% COC (Fytolan or Blue Copper) on the affected area using a wall painting brush and cover the affected portion using banana trash leaves.     
      6.  Effects of covering Banana bunch (Skirting) with polythene Bunch covers / sleeves or Non-woven skirting bags :
      Usage of Banana bunch cover
      1. Bunches are covered with 6% ventilated Polythene covers / sleeves of size 200cm Length x 150cm width x 175 gauge thick. 
      2. Use opaque polythene covers / sleeves if bunch development is during winter and paper bags can also be used to avoid chilling injury at frost conditions. 
      3. Use blue color bunch cover / sleeves during summer to avoid sun scorch.
      4. Do it within 15 days of last hand opening.
      5. The bunch is free from insect bites, fungi, bacteria attacks and physical injuries.
      6. Improved bunch appeal. 
      7. Maturity of bunch will be advanced by 7 to 10 days.

                   Placing inserts and skirting the bunch 
      with covers / sleeve

      Using blue color bunch covers / sleeves 
      during summer to avoid sun scorch.
      Using Bunch cover made of paper 
      to prevent chilling injury at frost conditions

      7.   At the banana bunch development stage the following fertilizers are  normally recommended to enhance the size of fruits / bunch: 

      Option 1: Application of 2% (20gm / 1litre) Potassium sulphate (0:0:50) as foliar spray on bunches, two times with 15 days interval.
      Option 2: Application of 1% (10gm / 1litre) Potassium nitrate (13:0:45) as foliar spray on bunches, two times with 15 days interval.
      Option 3 (Considered as best since it addresses all nutritional deficiencies): Application of 0.5% (5gm / 1litre) Potassium nitrate (13:0:45) + 0.5% (5gm / 1litre) of foliar grade Micro nutrient mixture as foliar spray on bunches as first spray followed by a second application of 2% (20gm / 1litre) of Potassium sulphate (0:0:50) + Biozyme 2ml / 1litre after 15 days. Repeat the second one again as III application after 15 days interval.

      Important Note 1: In all the above applications you can also add 0.2% Bavistin (Fungicide) for prophylactic control of fungal infections. Use wetting agents also. 

      Important Note 2: Nowadays farmers are going for a minimum of four applications within a period of 60 days (4 sprays with 15 days interval between each spray) and are getting very good results. 

      • Care should be taken to spray the above fertilizers only after all the hands are fully opened and after sufficient extension of male flower bud in the rachis. 
      • Do not apply any fertilizers or pesticides 15 days before harvest since there is a possibility of the unabsorbed chemical residues entering human food chain.
      • Application of excess dosage of fertilizers, Enzymatic and synthetic Growth promoters and plant protection chemicals on bunches are to be strictly avoided. See the link:Effect of overdose.
      Option 4:    Enhancing banana bunch yield through feeding N and K through distal end of rachis: For detailed procedure click this Link.
      There is considerable increase in bunch size in ‘Robusta’ and ‘Grande naine’ banana, when feeding the following mixture through the distal end of rachis soon after fruit set.  
      Preparing the nutrient mixture:
      • Ammonium Sulphate            -           15gm
      • Sulphate of potash (SOP)    -           7.5gm
      •  Fresh cow dung                    -           500gm blended in 100 ml of water.
      (Cow urine can also be used instead of water. 500 gm of fresh cow dung contains substantial amounts of about 5.5gm of N, 3.5gm of K 1.6 gm of S besides other minerals and bio-chemicals).
      Method of application:
      v     Select bunches where the fruit set is complete and about 10 – 15 cm long rachis is available after the last hand. Avoid bunches where fruit set is incomplete or during partial deflowering time.
      v     Remove male flower bud close to the rachis.
      v     Take the already prepared nutrient slurry in a used milk bag.
      v     Insert the slurry filled bag into the de-navelled stalk end of the bunch and tie it with a strong string.

      Ø      Bunch weight increased by 67% over control in which male flower bud was retained till harvest. In the field demonstrations, a response of 22 % to 28% increase in bunch weight was evident. Using ‘N-isotope label the movement of 51% of N into the bunch from AmSo4 was confirmed.

      (Courtasy: ICAR News, Research update, Success story, April – June 2007).
      For EXPORT of banana fruits, buyers normally insist on the following practices also in addition to the ones described above:

      8.  Size of fruit preferred for export:

      41mm fruit measuring tool kit
      •  Exporters won’t prefer fully developed bunches that are ready for harvest. A bunch with a middle fruit in It’s 2nd hand measuring 41 mm dia, and the middle fruit in the last Hand with 35 mm dia two weeks before harvest is ideal for Export.
      • Normally there will be variation in the size of fruits located in the upper hands and lower hands. Fruits in the upper hands are always bigger than fruits in lower end hands.  The variation will be more and markedly visible if there are more than 10 hands (sometimes 13 to 15 hands) in the bunch. To procure more or less uniform size of fruits, exporters insist the farmers to maintain only 9 or 10 hands in the bunch. By restricting the number of hands to 9 to 10, availability of nutrients to the fruits are more resulting in uniform size of fruits and faster development. 
      41mm is preferred fruit size for export

        9.  The practice of ‘Finger thinning’ is also to get uniform size of fruits.

        10.  Retaining a finger in the last hand
        After de-navelling (removal of male floral bud), the distal end of rachis sometimes gets infected with fungus and if left uncured the fungal infection spreads to the upper hands causing extensive damage. Retaining a finger in the last hand is a practice to monitor the fungal infection since the symptoms can be easily spotted in a lone fruit rather than spotting it in the major part of the bunch.
        Leaving a single finger in the last hand

        Excellent yields are obtained in many fields of farmers at Theni District, Tamilnadu, where the farmers followed only few of the bunch care techniques described here above. But, they meticulously followed the 'Bunch sprays' described in Sl.No.6, Option 3, Important Notes 1 & 2  and covered the bunches with bunch covers / sleeves. To attain max. yield in banana, the crop has to be nourished properly from day one. One of the main reason for the farmers achievement other than bunch care and bunch sprays is their adherence to the "Fertilizer Target Chart" (Link: Fertilizer Target Chart for better nutrition management in banana - Kindly refer the comments section also for better understanding) given to them for giving timely, adequate and balanced nutrition to the crop.

        A.Vishnu Sankar.

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