FarmLands for Sale

Methods of Planting Plantain Suckers (PPS)

Plantain suckers are planted immediately after field preparation. Plant holes are prepared with a minimum size of about 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm. Care should be taken to separate the topsoil from bottom soil. The sucker is placed in the hole and its corm is covered, first with the topsoil and then with the bottom soil.

In the plant hole, the side of the sucker corm which was formerly attached to the corm of its mother plant is placed against the wall of the hole. The opposite side of the sucker’ corm is placed towards the middle of the plant hole, where the soil is loose.

The best sucker (the future ratoon) will emerge at the side opposite to where the planted sucker was previously attached to the mother plant. If the land is sloping, the sucker should be so oriented that its follower will emerge against the slope. That will delay the development of the so-called high mat when the ratoon crop grows out of the soil and exposes the corm.

Read Also: Weed Management on Plantain Cultivation

Choosing the Time to Plant

Plantains can be planted throughout the rainy season. However, they should grow vigorously and without stress during the first 3 to 4 months after planting, and therefore they should not be planted during the last months of the rainy season.

Planting with the first rains seems agronomically sound but not financially advantageous.

Most plantain farmers will plant at the onset of the rains, causing the market to be flooded with bunches 9 to 12 months after planting, when prices will be very low.

Planting in the middle of the rainy season is a better proposition as plantains will then be produced off- season and get high prices.

What is Plantain?

The Importance of Plantain Farming Business

Plantains (Musa paradisiaca) are related to banana. They look quite similar and are, in fact, morphologically similar, but while bananas are grown for their sugary fruit, growing plantains are cultivated for their firmer, starchy fruit. Both are members of the Musa genus and are technically large herbs and their fruit classified as berries.
Plantains and their cultivated ancestors originated on the Malaysian peninsula, New Guinea and Southeast Asia and can attain heights of from 7-30 feet. Plantains are a hybrid of two species of banana, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.
Unlike bananas though, which are eaten fresh, plantains are almost always cooked. Plantains are grown from a super long 12- to 15-foot underground rhizome.
The resulting plant has giant leaves (up to 9 feet long and 2 feet across!) wrapping around a central trunk or pseudostem. Flowering takes 10-15 months of mild temperatures and yet another 4-8 months to fruit.
Flowers are produced from the pseudostem and develop into a cluster of hanging fruit. In commercial growing plantain plantations, once the fruit is harvested, the plant is cut down soon to be replaced by pups that sprout up from the mother plant.

How to Grow Plantain Trees

Plantains are grown just like bananas, which if you live in USDA zones 8-11, you can grow too. I’m still jealous. Initial plantain plant care requires well-draining soil, regular watering and protection from wind or frost.
Choose a sunny, warm area of your garden and dig a hole that is as deep as the root ball. Plant the plantain at the same level it was growing in the pot. Keep the plantain 4-6 feet from other plants to give it plenty of room to spread.
Add 4-6 inches of organic mulch around the tree, keeping it 6 inches away from the psedostem. Spread this mulch out in a circle 4-6 feet wide around the tree to help the soil retain water and protect the plants roots.
According to a recent detailed research, below are the recommended methods of growing plantain trees for optimum performance and productivity inorder to increase profits for the plantain farmer.

1) Selecting The Site

The site should be easily accessible, especially if the establishment of a large field is being planned. It should be well drained but not too steeply sloped. Plantain cultivation is impossible if the land becomes flooded from time to time, or has a water table at a depth of only 50 cm or less. The soil should be rich in organic matter (black soil). Hence fields in a long natural fallow, under an improved established fallow or with a lot of mulch are recommended.

2) Preparing The Field

Fields are to be prepared with minimum disturbance to the soil (no-tillage farming). In consequence, manual clearing should be preferred to mechanical deforestation because bulldozers always remove topsoil with the important organic matter and compact the remaining soil.

When an old natural fallow is cleared, the debris from the forest should be burned if plantain cultivation is planned for 1 or 2 cycles only. If perennial cultivation is being considered, planting should be done through the mulch .Young fallows of about 3 to 5 years or improved legume fallows should be simply slashed and left without being burned.

Trees must be cut but the stumps are not to be removed, and the trees should be left to grow again. They can be pruned only when they start to obstruct field activities or shade the plantains. Once the fallow crop is slashed, the field is ready for pegging. Drains should be dug if some spots in the field tend to waterlog after heavy rains.

3) Selecting Cultivars

For field cultivation, medium plantains should be preferred to giant ones even though giant plantains produce heavier bunches. Giant plantains take longer to produce and are more likely to be damaged by strong winds because of their size. The decision whether to grow a French or a False Horn plantain cultivar should depend on which type the consumers prefer. Horn plantains should never be cultivated as their yield is very low.

4) Preparing Suckers

Suckers are separated from their mother plant with a spade or machete. The sucker corm must not be damaged or chipped. Consequently the corm should be carefully peeled with a machete. The pseudo stem of the suckers should be cut off a few centimeters above the corm.

Peeling of the corm delays the development of nematode infestation, while cutting of the pseudo stem reduces bulkiness and improves early growth of the newly planted sucker. The peeling process is just like that for cassava. A freshly peeled healthy corm ought to look white, but corms infected by stem borers and nematodes show brown and black spots which have to be removed until only white tissue remains.

If the infestation is severe, with many brown and black spots, the sucker should be destroyed. Sucker preparation (peeling) is carried out in the field where the planting material is collected. This is to avoid contamination of the new field with roots infested with nematodes or corms with stem borers.

Prepared corms are transported to their destination where they are left to dry for a few days (not in the sun). Suckers have to be planted within two weeks. Storage of suckers for more than 2 weeks will adversely affect future yields.

Read Also: Plantain Propping: Importance and Methods

5) Planting

Suckers are planted immediately after field preparation. Plant holes are prepared with a minimum size of about 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm. Care should be taken to separate the topsoil from bottom soil. The sucker is placed in the hole and its corm is covered, first with the topsoil and then with the bottom soil. In the plant hole, the side of the sucker corm which was formerly attached to the corm of its mother plant is placed against the wall of the hole.

The opposite side of the sucker’ corm is placed towards the middle of the plant hole, where the soil is loose. The best sucker (the future ratoon) will emerge at the side opposite to where the planted sucker was previously attached to the mother plant. If the land is sloping, the sucker should be so oriented that its follower will emerge against the slope. That will delay the development of the so-called high mat when the ratoon crop grows out of the soil and exposes the corm.

6) Mulching

Organic matter is essential for plantain cultivation if the field is to be very productive for a long time. A high level of organic matter in the soil is beneficial because it stimulates root development, improves soil drainage, de- creases soil temperature fluctuations, and increases soil porosity and biological life.

Organic matter decays under the influence of microorganisms in the soil, heavy rainfall and high soil temperature. The amount of organic matter will gradually decrease once the field has been cleared and cause a decrease in yield. Therefore newly established plantains which receive only fertilizer will produce a high yield only in the first year.

In the second year the yield will drop because the organic matter will have decomposed. To compensate for this continuous decrease in the amount of organic matter, the field needs mulch from plants and/or manure from animals. There are many sources of mulch. It can be either carried into the field or produced between the plants; but to be effective, it should cover the soil completely.

Once the field is mulched, weeds are controlled and the topsoil is protected against heavy rainfall and intense sun- shine. Poultry, pigs and cows produce suitable manure which is applied only at the base of the mat.

7) Fertilizing

To produce a heavy bunch, plantains always need some extra nutrients. These can be applied in the form either of inorganic fertilizers or organic fertilizers (mulch, manure or ash from wood fires). Inorganic fertilizers have the advantages of easy handling and concentrated nutrients. Organic fertilizers are very bulky, yet they manifest many important characteristics. They improve soil moisture retention, weed and erosion control, soil porosity and biological activity.

The application of fertilizer should start 1 month after planting of plantains or with the first rains in an already existing field. The fertilizer is applied around the main plant in a circle about 50 cm in diameter. Fertilizer is not worked into the soil as that causes extensive damage to the superficial root system. No fertilizer is applied in the dry season.

8) Controlling weeds

Plantains should always be weed-free. Weed control starts during field preparation. Weeds are initially controlled about every 6 to 8 weeks; but when the plantain canopy closes, about 5 to 6 months after planting, weed infestation declines due to shading. Any plant with a superficial root system should be considered a weed and therefore eliminated.

Grasses or herbs are the most pernicious weeds because they derive their nutrients from the same level of the soil as the plantains. Tree seedlings are not considered to be weeds. Weeds can be controlled through mulching, chemically or manually. Mulching is the most efficient means, because a mulch layer can impede or prevent weed growth.

Chemical control is expensive and in some circumstances also dangerous. Manual weeding is not recommended, although the weeds are thereby effectively controlled, because slashing or hoe weeding inevitably damages the plantain root system. However, sometimes manual weeding is the only possible method.

9) Intercropping

Plantain fields are arranged in rows spaced 3 m x 2 m. As the canopy closes only some 5 to 6 months after planting, a fair amount of inter-row space remains un exploited during the first months. This space can be used for plants which have a short life cycle and which do not compete with plantains.

Groundnut, yam , cocoyam and maize are suitable intercrops although maize effectively delays the plantain harvest by about 2 months. Cassava and cowpea are not suitable, because their yields are reduced under the shade of plantain rows. Plantains can be used as a shade crop for young cocoa and coffee plants.

10) Propping

The heavy weight of the plantain bunch bends all bearing plants and can cause doubling (pseudo stem breaks), snap- off (corm breaks, leaving a part in the ground) or uprooting, also called tip-over (the entire corm with roots comes out of the ground). Plants are generally weak during the dry season and strong winds, nematodes and stem borers also increase the rate of loss.

For these reasons, bearing plants always need support from 1 or 2 wooden props, usually made of bam- boo. If a piece of bamboo is used, the support is placed alongside the bearing plant and the top of the plant is tied to the bamboo. A lateral branch at the top of the bamboo prop sometimes forms a natural fork which can be used to support the plantain without being tied to it.

When 2 pieces of bamboo are used, the bunch and not the plant is supported in the first place. The bamboo props are crossed and form a fork. This fork is tied together with a rope and placed just underneath the bunch.

Read Also: Plantain Fertilizer Application and Methods

11) Harvesting

The bearing plant is cut and the bunch, 3 to 4 months old, is harvested when 1 or 2 fingertips of the first hand start yellowing. The bunch usually then ripens within a week. Care has to be taken that the bunch does not drop on the ground when the main plant is cut. The whole of the pseudo stem and foliage of the main plant is then chopped  and spread over the soil as a mulch for the ratoon crop. If this is not done, weevils may live and multiply on the intact pseudo stem.

Plantain Plant Care

The number one rule when caring for plantain trees is don’t let them dry out. They love moist soil, not soggy, and need careful watching during hot, dry weather. The number two rule of plantain plant care is to protect the plant.
Cover it with a blanket during cold snaps and put a light bulb or string of holiday lights under the blanket. While the rhizomes will survive underground down to 22 degrees F. (-5 C.), the rest of the plant will die back during freezing temperatures.
Follow those two rules and caring for plantain trees is fairly simple. As with all plants, some feeding is required. Feed the plant once a month during the summer with a slow release 8-10-8 fertilizer.
A heavy feeder, a mature tree needs about 1-2 pounds, spread out in a 4-8 foot radius around the plant and then lightly worked into the soil. Prune off suckers with a pair of gardening pruners.
This will divert all the energy to the main plant unless, of course, you are propagating a new plant. If so, leave one sucker per plant and let it grow on the parent for 6-8 months before removing it.
When the fruit is ripe, cut it from the pseudostem with a knife. Then chop the tree down to the ground and whack up the detritus to use as mulch to be spread around the new plantain tree that will arise from the rhizomes.

Copyright Notice: This post belongs to Agric4profits.com and is not allowed to be copied by other sites. Kindly Click Here to visit our Home page for more amazing related articles. Thank you for reading.

 

Farmlands for Sale

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *