<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> <HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>BANANA BASICS</TITLE> <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"><style type="text/css"> <!-- body { background-image: url(http://figs4fun.com/fig%20leaf%20collage%2010%20half.jpg); } .style1 { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; font-style: normal; line-height: 36px; font-weight: 900; font-variant: normal; text-transform: none; color: #006600; text-decoration: none; } .style3 { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; color: #000000; font-style: normal; line-height: normal; font-weight: 600; font-variant: normal; text-transform: none; text-decoration: none; } a { font-size: 16px; color: #006600; } a:link { text-decoration: none; } a:visited { text-decoration: none; color: #000099; } a:hover { text-decoration: none; color: #FF0000; } a:active { text-decoration: none; } .style6 { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 36px; font-style: normal; line-height: normal; font-weight: 800; font-variant: normal; color: #006600; text-decoration: none; } --> </style> </HEAD> <BODY> <p align="center" class="style1"><span class="style6">BANANA BASICS</span> </p> <p align="center" class="style3">Based on a 2007 <a href="http://www.crfg.org">California Rare Fruit Growers'</a> Festival of Fruit presentation.</span></p> <p align="center"><span class="style1">Introduction.</span></p> <!---pix 1: Chiquita Lingerie---> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-62.jpg"></p> <!---pix 2: 6143 Fulmar---> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-48.jpg"></p> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Good afternoon. My name is Jon, and today I am going to be your banana expert because I have more banana trees than most people, and I was willing to talk for cheap. </span> <!---pix 3: dad's tractor---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-57.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Briefly, I have been gardening since I was in diapers. I joined CRFG nearly 20 years ago, and have been growing bananas for more than 10 years. </span> <!---pix 4: Sale plants---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-87.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> ADVERTISEMENT: I have many banana varieties available at the plant sale outside, along with many of the 300 fig varieties which I grow. </span> <!---pix 5: Laboratory---> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-72.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> I am a hobbyist like you. I am not a biologist, not a botanist. I do not have any formal education or any formal background in botany or agriculture. So, I am not doing anything that you can't do. CRFG is about experimenting and sharing. I keep experimenting, and hopefully I can shorten your learning curve by sharing my experience</span> <!---pix 6: Pitango bananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP948-75.jpg"></span> <!---pix 7:---Belle bananas> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP946-09.jpg"></span> <!---pix 8: Kanderian bananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP940-29.jpg"></span> <!---pix 9: Tall Red bananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP945-42.jpg"></span> <!---pix 10: Hua Moa bananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP944-64.jpg"></span> <!---pix 11: Praying Hands bananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP915-58.jpg"></span> <!---pix 12: Thousand Fingers bananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP945-91.jpg"></span> <!---pix 13: Ebun Musak---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP948-22.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> I grow about 100 varieties of bananas, and each has its' own set of characteristics, but the similarities far outweigh the differences. <!---pix 14: fish market---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://figs4fun.com/fpix/FP972-31.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> My goal here, as it has been classically expressed, is not to give you a fish... <!---pix 15: brown bear---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://figs4fun.com/fpix/FP972-32.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> ...but to teach you to fish: that is, to introduce you to the basics of bananas, and to help you understand the principles underlying successful banana cultivation, and to introduce you to the information resources available to you, so that you can continue learning and successfully grow any banana. <!---pix 16: old botany drawing---></span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-59.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> We are not going to spend much time on biology, except where it is important to the successful growing of bananas. <!---pix 17: Praying Hands bananas---></span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP915-37.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Each variety has many similarities, but also its' differences, and you will hear me say many times today that you need to become familiar with your variety and its' specific characteristics and habits. <!---pix 18: fertilizer bag---></span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://figs4fun.com/fpix/FP972-13.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> I am biased. I do not grow organically. That does not mean that I am opposed to that form of plant care, only that I am not qualified to address that form of gardening. So if you grow organically, you will have to adapt what I am saying to your situation, which you are probably accustomed to doing, already. </P> <P ALIGN="CENTER" class="style1"> <span class="style6">2. </span> <br> <p align="center"><span class="style1">Why grow bananas? </P> <!---pix 19: Flower---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP915-62.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Flowers. <!---pix 20: Kanderian bananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP940-30.jpg"></span> <!---pix 21: Belle bananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP946-09.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Fruit. <!---pix 22: Thousand Fingers bananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP945-91.jpg"></span> <!---pix 23: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Beauty. <!---pix 24: Rose---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP910-27.jpg"></span> <!---pix 25: Red Iholena---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP944-56.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Landscape value. <!---pix 26: Tongue---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-15.jpg"></span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Flavor. <P ALIGN="CENTER" class="style1"> <span class="style6">3. </span> <br> Culture: growth characteristics and conditions. </P> <!---pix 27: Old botany drawing---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-58.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> At this point we need to understand a small bit of biology. <!---pix 28: Corm---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-65.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Banana plants grow underground, much like a tulip bulb. <!---pix 29: Leaves---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-63.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 30: Stem cross section---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-12.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Everything you see above the surface of the soil is leaf. What we often refer to as the trunk is technically a pseudostem composed of a bundle of leaf stems. The strength of the trunk is derived from the curvature of the leaf stems, and the way they overlap. Narrower stems mean less overlap, and therefore potentially less strength. When the flower spike pushes its' way up through the center of the pseudostem it forces the overlapping leaf stems apart, decreasing their overlap, and weakening the stem. <!---pix 31: 6143 Fulmar streetside---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-48.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Dwarf vs. Tall.<br><BR> Broadly speaking, most banana plants which you are likely to grow have trunks which are 6' tall, or 12' tall, but some varieties are as short as 2' or as tall as 25'. One advantage of dwarf plants is that they usually do not require propping. <!---pix 32: Ebun Musak and Gluay Namwah---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-64.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Slender vs. Stout <!---pix 33: Sweetheart---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP946-51.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Slender plants will usually need propping, but some seemingly stout plants become very weak when they flower. <!---pix 34: Misi Luki---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP948-32.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 35: Kru---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-27.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 36: Tall Red---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP947-62.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Different varieties have a wide range of colors, shapes and styles. <!---pix 37: Corm with roots---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP948-95.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Roots can extend as much at 10' from the trunk of the plant. <!---pix 38: Scissors---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-30.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Pruning. All you need is a pair of scissors. <!---pix 39: Leaves, green, yellow and brown---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-62.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Anything green is good. Yellow and dry brown can be removed. <!---pix 40: @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-67.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 41: Shredded leaves---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-01.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 42: Folded leaves---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-54.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 43: Shredded green and yellow leaves---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-55.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 44: Solar panels---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-66.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 45: Rotting trunk---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP949-90.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 46: Rotting trunk eating thru---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP945-84.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT" class="style3"> Wet, mushy, dark brown is rot and must be removed immediately, as it will migrate through the entire plant. <!---pix 47: Swamp---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://figs4fun.com/fpix/FP972-33.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Water: Watering must match the growth rate of the plant and the season of the year.<BR><BR> Quick biology. Below 50ish degrees, plant metabolism decreases significantly, (as evidenced by reduced leaf production) and consequently requirements for water and fertilizer drop significantly, also. <!---pix 48: Iritrol water sprinkler---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-16.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 49: Individual Iritrol bubbler---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-17.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="center" class="style3"> In the heat of summer, you almost can't overwater. In the winter (approx October to March in So Cal) you only need to maintain dampness. Overwatering will lead to rotting of the roots, stressing the plant, and ultimately reducing size and quantity of fruit. <!---pix 50: 3-variety cluster---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-68.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Spacing: I understand that 10' spacing is used commercially, but many of mine are planted closer. Often I plant in groups of 3, at about 6' spacing, but leave more space around the perimeter, before planting another group. <!---pix 51: Cobbles---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-24.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Soil: Soil type is almost irrelevant. The plants are shallow rooted, 12-18" deep at most. Most of mine are in heavy clay and cobble. Some have been planted in pure compost. There are reports of them thriving in piles of horse manure. The important issue is matching water application with soil or drainage type. Perhaps the most challenging soils are sand and decomposed granite, which do not hold water well. <!---pix 52: Corm---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-65.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Because of their shallow nature, they could most likely be successfully raised in an appropriately large raised bed. <!---pix 53: Mulch---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-32.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Mulch: a good, heavy layer of compost or other similar organics on the surface of the soil is important. <!---pix 54: Over-fertilized growth---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-94.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Fertilizer: when weather is warm, and plants are actively growing, you almost cannot over-fertilize. The only ill-affect of extreme fertilization that I have seen is expressed in tangled leaves on some varieties which have a particular leaf-emergence style, e.g. Manzano. <!---pix 55: Kumunamba tangled leaf---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-34.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> The supposed optimum ratio is 9-3-27. However, in my experience, I could not see any difference between the optimum and 16-16-16, which is cheaper and easier than mixing 21-0-0. 16-16-16 and 0-0-52 to achieve the "optimum" ratio. <!---pix 56: Sun---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-69.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Location, siting and weather. More sun is good, up to about 95 degrees (see Arizona chapters for extreme heat conditions).<br> Less wind is good.<br> <!---pix 57: Frosted plant---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-60.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Frost is bad. In many case they will recover, but the loss of leaves will stress the plant and reduce size and quantity of the eventual fruit bunch. <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> <!---pix 58: Kru---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP949-26.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Cold tolerance: see Joe Real's list.<br> Generally. Red bananas are less cold tolerant (Tall Red, Dwarf Red, Cuban Red, Kru Red Iholena, Red Green, Dwarf Red Green, Rose), though some green bananas are fairly tender as well, such as Kumunamba and Kofi, and to a considerable extent, the Cavendish varieties.<br> Most Reds will barely survive mid 40's for extended periods. Flowering, in winter (induced by an unusually warm week), or after a long winter can impact fruiting (size and <!---pix 59: Mona Lisa mat---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-59.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Mat management: try to keep 3-4 plants in you "mat" (clump), of varying sizes and maturities, approximately 6-9 months apart. This will give you a more consistent harvest. Some varieties seem to be more affected by crowding than others. <!---pix 60: Lskatan choking---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-45.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 61: Sumatrana choking---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP949-48.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Choking: some varieties, such as Raja Puri, Fhia 17 and Sumatrana X, are susceptible to choking, which is a condition where the flower does not fully exit the pseudostem, and the fruit are formed inside the pseudostem. Or the flower may even erupt through the side of the pseudostem instead of exiting the top of the pseudostem. <P ALIGN="CENTER" class="style1"> <span class="style6">4. </span> <br> Flowering and Harvest. </P> <!---pix 62: Flower and bunch---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP930-70.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Once again, knowing you particular variety's characteristics is crucial. I cannot give you a list of ripening times for each variety, but I can teach you how to determine your varieties characteristics. <!---pix 63: Winter snow scene---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-70.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Season: there is none. They flower when the "feel like it". Many sources suggest they flower after producing a certain number of leaves, but the sources vary widely on what that number is. <!---pix 64: Swelled trunk---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-33.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Signs of flowering include: Increase in trunk diameter,... <!---pix 65: Bunching leaves---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-11.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> ...spacing or bunching of leaves, (Not BTV),... <!---pix 66: Sweetheart bending---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP946-51.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> ...and or pseudostem gets "droopy", e.g. Thousand Fingers. <!---pix 67: Giant Ice Cream---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-82.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Pseudostem height is the best indicator of closeness to flowering. With consistent culture (water, fertilizer and weather) each variety will, flower at almost the same exact height each time. I am seldom surprised to see a plant flowering and can usually tell within a few weeks, when my plants will flower. <!---pix 68: Flag leaf Gluay---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-93.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Flag leaf. <!---pix 69: Prop parts---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-34.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 70: Propped plant---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-20.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Propping.<br><br> There are many ways to accomplish this, but this has been simple and very successful. The secret is the 45 degree elbow, which naturally allow the legs to be spread apart, giving very good side-to-side stability (shear resistance for engineering types). 2" PVC has much greater strength than 1-1/2". Anything larger is not necessary. It is important, when using any form of propping or staking to support the weight at the very top of the bunch. Propping at any point lower on the trunk usually ends with the pseudostem folded or broken at the support point. You want to support the banana bunch as if you had removed them from the plant and had hung them up to ripen. <!---pix 71: Folded Pisang Ceylon---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP949-94.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 72: Folded Monthan on ground---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP949-96.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Even if the plant if "folded" by the wind, as long as there is some connection remaining in the flower stem, the fruit will ripen normally. It is better to leave the damaged stalk "as is" rather than damaging it further by trying to straighten or move it. <!---pix 73: Stem after male flowers---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-71.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Flower removal.<br><br> The literature is divided down the middle. I haven't been able to determine an affect either way, but assume that energy going into endless male flowers must not be going for other things. If you remove the flower, leave about 12" of stem below the last hand of fruit. If the stem desiccates up past the point where the fruit is attached to the stem, that fruit loses connection with the plant, and will usually not be edible. <!---pix 74: Pitango half ripe bunch---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-35.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 75: Dwf Colorado Blanco half ripe bunch---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP949-72.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Signs of maturity and ripeness (different things).<br><br> Maturity and ripeness are two different things. Mature bananas may be picked green and will ripen off of the tree. This is how all commercial bananas which you purchase in the supermarket are done. Immature bananas will not ripen properly. Hanging time on the tree, to achieve maturity is different for each variety. I have ripened Kru fruit after only 6 weeks hanging time. However, my first bunch of Saba fruit required 11 months on the tree before ripening. <!---pix 76: Unripe Belle, angular---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-59.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 77: Unripe Belle, angular---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-60.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 78: Ripe Belle, rounded---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP945-61.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Plumping and/or rounding of the fruit. This is very pronounced in some varieties, and almost unnoticeable in others, is evidence of maturity <!---pix 79: Pitango, half ripe bunch---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-35.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 80: Kanderian, ripe---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP940-30.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Color change is evidence of ripening. Different varieties have different shades of yellow when ripe. Once again, becoming familiar with your particular variety is crucial. <!---pix 81: Ebun Misak, ripe---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP948-22.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Even Ebun Musak, which is green when ripe, has a slight color change. It is important to know when to look for that color change. <!---pix 82: Date on trunk---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-69.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Harvest.<br><br> Knowing when to pick your bananas is the final step in enjoying your harvest. I approach each new variety this way: when the first hand (not the flower) appears, (this is the most important step) I write the date on the side of the stalk with a felt pen. After 6 months, if they have not shown any color change, I cut off the top (oldest) hand, and allow it to ripen (usually in a couple weeks). If it is OK, I continue removing hands as I need them. Eventually the rest will ripen on the  tree . <!---pix 83: Green hand---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP949-74.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Picking when green spreads out the harvest (who wants to try and eat 100 bananas in a week?). Once, again, it is very important to become familiar with your variety at your location with your climate. <!---pix 84: Kanderian beginning to ripen---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP940-31.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> If the fruit has been hanging all winter, it may be mature, but won't ripen without proper conditions. It will have a tendency to ripen during the first warm week, which often occurs in early April in San Diego. In this circumstance, it is difficult to spread out your harvest.<br><br> Kanderian ripens in about 10-12 weeks; Saba has taken as long as 11 months. "Your results may vary. Details in store." <!---pix 85: Mona Lisa spent trunk---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-57.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> After Harvest.<br><br> The banana plant only flowers once and then it dies. I leave the old plant as long is it has green leaves, on the theory that it is still contributing energy to the mat (group). When the leaves have faded, and the trunk begins to desiccate, I remove it in stages, till only the old corm remains. Some varieties, e.g. Belle, may have green leaves for close to a year. With others the trunk and leaves will barely last long enough to mature the fruit. <P ALIGN="CENTER" class="style1"> <span class="style6">5. </span> <br> Propagation. </P> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Since your banana plant will only flower once, and then die, you need to know how to make additional plants. <!---pix 86: Seeded bunch---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP930-31.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 87: Seeded banana, cut---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP930-32.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 88: Seeded bunch---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP930-33.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Ornamental varieties grown from seed. <!---pix 89: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-20.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 90: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-86.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Edible varieties grown from pups or Keikeis (Hawaiian term). Pups form by growing up from the existing corm or plant. The number of pups varies by variety. They from at different times, also depending on variety. Some grow when the parent plant is quite young, while others only start growing when the parent plant has flowered. Most pups, called sword pups, grow 2-3' before growing regular leaves. However, some, called water pups have leaves when very short, and generally, but not always, are less vigorous and poor growers. <!---pix 91: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP951-77.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 92: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-75.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Corm size.<br><br> I generally remove my pups when they are about 16" tall. But some pups of that size are already too well rooted to remove easily, and others will have little or not roots at that size. Getting to know your variety is important.<br><br> It is best to take pups when there are still a few weeks of warm growing weather, so that they can callus and grow roots before going dormant in cooler weather. This reduces the chances of over-watering and rotting the pup.<br><br> <!---pix 93 ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-79.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 94: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-80.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Plants may also be propagated but dividing up a corm, much like a potato, and planting the "eyes" or small pups which are forming. <!---pix 95 ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-22.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 96: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP952-23.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Tools.<br><br> I use a RoughNeck digging bar. I have tried many different things such as a shovel, spade, narrow spade, trenching shovel, the Mutt, and some homemade tools as well, and this has become my tool of choice. <br><br> Important factors and issues.<br><br> Minimizing root disturbance of the parent decreases stress, and less stress is ultimately rewarded by better fruit production.. <!---pix 97: Stress---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-83.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Stress<br><br> Removing pups close to flowering greatly stresses some varieties, e.g. the Cavendish varieties. <!---pix 98: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP972-60.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Different characteristics.<br><br> Plant size.<br> Quantity of roots.<br> Corm size.<br> Time of pupping. Some varieties pup very early, some not till flowering. <P ALIGN="CENTER" class="style1"> <span class="style6">6. </span> <br> Never give up. </P> <!---pix 99: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP948-26.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> <!---pix 100: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-84.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 101: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-85.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 102: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-86.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 103: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-87.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 104: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-91.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 105: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-92.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 106: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-93.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> <!---pix 107: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP949-96.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Folded plants.<br><br> <!---pix 108: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP950-88.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Seemingly dead plants.<br><br> The plant or corm is underground, so what you see above ground my not reflect the reality underground. Never give up until there is literally nothing left but a hole in the ground. <P ALIGN="CENTER" class="style1"> <span class="style6">7. </span> <br> Best tasting. </P> <!---pix 108: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP940-29.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 109: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP940-30.jpg"> </span> <!---pix 110: ---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP946-09.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> The one I am eating.<br> The one that is getting ripe.<br> The one I have for sale.<br> <P ALIGN="CENTER" class="style1"> <span class="style6">8. </span> <br> Literature and resources. </P> <!---pix 111: Screenshot webebananas---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-91.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> We Be Bananas http://webebananas.com <!---pix 112: FHIA---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-93.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> FHIA http://www.honduras.com/fhia/ <!---pix 113: INIBAP---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-92.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> INIBAP http://bananas.bioversityinternational.org/ <!---pix 114: bananas.org---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-89.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Banana.org http://www.bananas.org/ <!---pix 115: Garden Web Forum---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-90.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> Garden Web Banana Forum http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/banana/ <!---pix 116: CRFG---> </span> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><img src="http://webebananas.com/bpix/BP953-94.jpg"> </span> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> CRFG Fruit Fact http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/banana.html <br><br> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style1"> Joe Real's Cold Hardy List, from most hardy to least:<br><br> <P ALIGN="LEFT"><span class="style3"> California Gold<br> Thousand Fingers<br> Monkey Fingers<br> Orinoco<br> Brazilian<br> Golden Rhinohorn<br> Dwarf Orinoco<br> Dwarf Brazilian<br> Misi Luki<br> Mysore<br> Namwah<br> Raja Puri<br> Manzano<br> Ice Cream<br> Gold Finger<br> Dwarf Namwah<br> Sweetheart (FHIA 3)<br> Namwah Pearl<br> Praying Hands<br> Saba<br> Cardaba<br> Williams<br> Belle<br> Valery<br><br> CRFG Banana Specialist<br><br>