In order to produce a heavy bunch, plantains always need some extra nutrients. These can be applied in the form of either inorganic or organic fertilizers (mulch, manure or ash from wood fires).
Inorganic fertilizers have the advantages of easy handling and concentrated nutrients while organic fertilizers are very bulky, yet they manifest many important characteristics as they improve soil retention, weed and erosion control, soil porosity and biological activity.
The application of fertilizers should start 1month after the planting of plantains or with the first rains in an already existing field, please note that no fertilizer should be applied during the dry season as it will not decompose properly.
The fertilizer is applied around the plant in a circle of about 50cm in diameter, also ensure that fertilizers is not worked into the soil as that causes extensive damage to the superficial root system.
Fertilization for your plantain is one of the most important things you can do in your plantation as a well-fertilized plantain stands the chance of yielding 10 times more than an unfertilized one. This is possible only when the right fertilizers are used and the application is done properly.
This is especially true because plantains are heavy feeders (depletes the nutrients of the soil quickly) so a farmer has to look for a fertilizer that contains top nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for soil replenishment.
While Nitrogen will keep the plant green, phosphorus is needed for flowering and strong roots and potassium helps the overall health of the plant.
Read Also: Preparing the field for Plantain Cultivation
Methods of Plantain Fertilization
(1) Deep Soil Application
Organic manures are sometimes placed on the surface of soil and incorporated into the soil with a plough or rototiller before planting.
Fertilizer can also be applied in bands at the bottom of plough furrows or broadcast or spread on top of ploughed soil that is then worked into the soil with a harrow before planting.
You can use a walk-behind drop spreader or hand-held spreader with a crank to scatter granular or bulk fertilizer on the ground. This method, called broadcasting, is good for flowerbeds, lawns, trees and vegetable gardens.
Fertilizer may be broadcast on of the ground before planting and then tilled or watered into the soil. If it is broadcast on growing plants and watered into the soil, it is called topdressing.
To fertilize a row of flowers or vegetables or to get plants started, place the fertilizer 2 inches to the side and 2 inches deeper than the seed furrow. This is called banding. When you irrigate with furrows, place the band of fertilizer between the irrigation furrow and the seed furrow.
Place bands of fertilizer on each side of the furrow. When you irrigate with a drip hose, place the fertilizer under the emitter. You can also place the fertilizer on one side of a seedling or on one side of a plant mid-way through its growing period. This is called side dressing.
(4) Liquid Application
Water-soluble fertilizer can be applied with spray cans or applied with sprinklers or furrow irrigation. Small amounts of liquid fertilizer applied to young vegetable plants at the time of transplanting is called a starter solution.
Some plants require micronutrients such as zinc and iron that they cannot get through the soil, but their leaves can absorb them. Water-soluble fertilizer is usually sprayed on leaves when they first show signs of nutrient deficiency and in periods of drought when the soil is to dry to absorb the nutrients.
There are drawbacks. If you use a solution that is too strong you might burn or scorch the leaves. You can only apply a small amount of nutrients in a single spray. This method is costly unless you combine the fertilizer with pesticides to control insects or disease.
Read Also: Method of Planting Plantain Suckers (PPS)
Here are 4 kinds of fertilizers that are great for your plantation:
- Organics Fruit & Citrus Fertilizer: This is specifically formulated to provide fruit-bearing plants with the nutrients they need to provide healthy and abundant yields. It is rich in biozone (which is a healthy bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi, and microorganisms that helps to improve soil texture and increase water infiltration and retention), bone meal, feather meal, potash and composted manure with a Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium ratio of 3-5-5. This should be applied every two to three months for optimum growth.
- Fertilizer Spikes: This provides fruit trees with the nutrients they need for a whole season in one application. The best way to apply fertilizer spikes is to drive the spikes into the soil at the edge of the drip line, spacing them 3cm apart once in the raining season and another in the dry season.
- Earth Organic 9: This is an organic, powered fertilizer with a blend of feather meal, fishbone meal, cottonseed meal, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, soft rock phosphate, mined potassium sulfate, seaweed extract, probiotic, seven strains of beneficial soil microbes, and mycorrhizae. The natural, organic 7-4-2 ratio of Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium results in strong root development and more abundant fruit sets. Always use 1 cup of fertilizer for every inch of trunk diameter and then water thoroughly.
- Fruit Tree Spray: This is 100 per cent organic, liquid and made up of chicken manure and/or sewage sludge. It contains a Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium ratio of 5-4-2 to enhance strong root development and more abundant fruit. It is probably the best fertilizer for plantain and relatively easy to use. These can be applied every two weeks during the active growing season. Thoroughly spray branches and undersides of leaves until they are dripping wet; apply early in the morning or after 4 pm to avoid burning leaves.
Taking care of your plantain (especially if you are in the south, where the soil is conducive) is relatively easy. All you need to do is make sure that the soil around it is always moist and protect the trees from too much sunlight.
Read Also: Mulching of Plantains and the Advantages