Banana is one of the important fruit crops grown in Nepal which is rich source of nutrient and is relatively cheaper than other fruit crops in Nepal. It is cultivated in Terai, Inner-Terai, lower hills and besins region of Nepal which has developed as cash crop in some Terai districts of Nepal. Banana plant is considered as fortune indicator in religious point of view and is used in Bartabandha, Wedding and other functions. It is also used as table fruit and vegetable crop in some areas nowadays. It is rich in vitamins, phosphorus, calcium like minerals and in comparison, to other fruit crops, it gives production within short time and easily marketed in the local market too. So, this fruit which is easily cultivated using local resources at low cost it creates employment opportunity in the Terai region of Nepal.
The commonly available varieties of Banana in Nepal used for commercial cultivation are as below:
- Malbhog: Yellow colored fruit, 100-150 fingers in bundle (ghari), 4-5 meters height
- Harichal: Green colored fruit, 200-250 fingers in bundle (ghari), 2.5-3 meters height
- Robust: Grey green colored fruit, 250-300 fingers per bundle (ghari), 3-4 meters height
- William hybrid: green colored fruit, 250-300 fingers in bundle (ghari), 3-3.5 meters height
- G-9: Raised from tissue culture, resistant to disease & pest incidence
- Chini champa: yellow colored fruit, 150-200 fingers per bundle (ghari), 4-8 meters height
- Jhapali Malbhog: 125-130 fingers per bundle (ghari). Medium height, tolerant to drought & wind.
Climate & Soil:
Banana is tropical climate fruit which requires temperature range of 15-35 degree Celsius. For the better banana cultivation, relative humidity of 78-85 % is essential and upto the altitude range of 2000 m above the sea level. Winter temperature less than 12 degree Celsius will cause cold injury in banana and is susceptible to frost attack. Areas with low wind and hot & humid climate is optimum for this crop. Hot wind blowing and more frost occurring areas are not typical to this fruit.
Special care is necessary for selecting the suitable area for banana cultivation. Loamy soil or clayey loamy soil is best for this crop with drainage facility and good moisture retention capacity soil. Highly clayey and sandy soil are not suitable for this fruit and the optimum pH for this crop is 6.5-7.5.
- Availability of water
- Transportation & market
- Security & care
The field is ploughed for 2-3 times making it weed free and levelled. Drainage is top priority for banana cultivation and for this ridges or furrows are prepared during field preparation. Before planting banana, pits are made at least one month before with the recommended fertilizer and crop protecting pesticides.
Suckers or Seedlings selection:
There are two types of sword and water suckers in banana. Sword like leaf having sucker is selected rather than sucker with dropping and horizontal leaves (water suckers) which gives faster and better fruiting. Such suckers should have large rhizome, conical in shape and turgid growing tip/bud to select as planting suckers. Suckers with 2-2.5 feet tall, of 2-3 months old narrow and upright leaves must be selected. According to cultivar type, suckers required are 700-1800 per bigha however, for commercial cultivation of banana, seedlings raised in secondary nursery, with 3 leaves produced by tissue culture are selected. Such seedlings which are hardened in secondary nursery will adapt well in main field.
- Layout is done 1 month before transplanting.
- Pits are dug at 2-3 meter spacing
- Pit size: 60 cm * 60 cm * 60 cm
- Separate top & sub soil, burn the crop debris or straw in the pit.
- 10-15 kg FYM/compost + top soil + 10 grams (2 tea spoon) furadan is mixed and applied.
Planting is carried after 20-30 days after filling the pit with the recommended ingredients in the pit. Generally, spacing is maintained according to cultivars and planting is done with the help if planting board. It is carried out in the evening time.
Manuring & Fertilization:
Banana is heavy feeder crop and requires higher amount of fertilizer. Fertilizer is applied @ 10-15 kg FYM/compost with 516 grams Urea, 152 grams DAP, 500 grams MOP per plant per year. Also apply Banana special (micronutrient) @ 15-20 grams per plant during planting. Fertilizer must be applied within 4-5 months after transplanting in banana.
Banana crop requires higher water or irrigation rate in comparison to others. Irrigation is required continuously for better adaptation of transplanted seedlings. It then requires irrigation at weekly to 12 days interval during summer but it only requires drainage facility during rainy season.
Following points should be considered during irrigation:
- During summer season apply water at 7-12 days interval but it requires irrigation only at 15-20 days interval.
- If drought continues for long duration during rainy season, irrigation is necessary but for most times, it requires drainage facility.
- Field at higher elevation requires frequent irrigation but lower field requires less frequent irrigation.
- Apply irrigation after manuring.
- Earthing up is necessary in banana for creating furrow to manage drainage system.
- Apply irrigation during severe cold winter season to prevent clotting of fluid inside banana plant.
Planting with tissue cultured seedlings:
In conventional method of planting of banana, spacing of 7 ft * 6 ft is maintained with 2400-2500 plants per hector. However, with tissue culture spacing is 5 ft * 4 ft (Row to row * plant to plant). The plant population maintained by this method range from 3600-3700 per hector. 1200 more plants can be accommodated per hector which helps farmers to produce higher production for greater profitability.
Drip irrigation in Banana:
Since banana plant uptake water and fertilizer continuously, drip irrigation helps in better growth and development of plant. Drip irrigation helps in saving 80% of irrigation water than in flooding irrigation which is useful in drought regions. It helps in saving 80% labor cost. With the help of drip irrigation, fertigation (fertilizer through water), pesticide application and many more intercultural operations are possible at easy method.
Orchard management in Banana field:
- Weed control:
- Earthing up:
- Pruning of leaves, diseases & old mother plants:
- Propping: Providing support:
- Removing male flowers, water suckers & so on.
Harvesting is done usually when most of the fingers attain their physiological maturity. For uniform ripening, ethrel is applied in the fruit which helps in ripening of fruit in the mother plant.
Carefully transportation is done and storage is done at low temperature of 4 degree Celsius and 80-95% relative humidity.
Yield varies according to cultivars.