Plantains, like other bananas require a hot and humid environment. Ideally, the average air temperature should be about 30°C and rainfall at least 100 mm per month (of at least 1000 mm (39.4 in) per year to survive) and have a high light requirement. Rainfall should be well distributed throughout the year and dry seasons should be as short as possible.
Irrigation is not suitable nor economically worthwhile for plantains grown by the family farmer but may become necessary when larger fields are cultivated in areas with a long dry season, they require a deep soil, rich in organic matter which is well draining and well aerated.
Plantain cannot thrive in an environment that is too hot or too cold. The ideal climate for plantain is the tropical climate with temperature ranging from 26 to 30 degrees Celsius. But below 14°C (57F) they just stop growing and die. The plantain would die.
They thrive in tropical regions where the warm temperature, bright sun and adequate moisture create optimum growing environments. They grow best in hot and humid climates, require a rainfall of at least 1000 mm (39.4 in) per year to survive and have a high light requirement. Plantains will grow optimally at 27°C (98.6°F)
Bananas can handle extreme heat (if they have enough water), but they don’t like it. They can handle cool weather for a short while, but they don’t like that either.
If the temperatures drop any lower the fruit suffers (the skin turns greyish) and the leaves can turn yellow. Frost kills the plant above ground, but the corm can survive and may re-shoot.
Again, the ideal temperature range for banana growing is around 26–30°C (78–86F). The plants will grow optimally in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.
A year-round mild climate is suitable for plantains, though they do best in tropical temperatures and may need protection from the cold. Plantain plants can grow up to 25 feet tall, and the large, attractive leaves reach up to 2 feet wide and 9 feet long. The plants thrive in almost any type of well-drained soil and are healthiest when grown in full sun. Select a cultivar suited to your microclimate and growing conditions.
Therefore you have to:
- Select an appropriate site for your plantain plant. Choose a flat, well-draining area containing plenty of organic material. The ideal soil pH ranges from 5.5 to 7.0.
- Measure the plantain’s container with a measuring tape. Take measurements for the container’s diameter and depth.
- Dig a hole in the soil that measures three times as deep and three times the diameter of the plantain’s container.
- Backfill the hole with some of the loosened soil so that the plantain will be even with the surrounding ground. Take the plant out of its container and lower it into the hole, making sure not to disturb the roots.
- Fill in the gaps in the hole with the soil you removed. Tamp the soil down with your hand or a shovel.
- Water the plantain as soon as possible after planting.
Plantain Soil Maintenance
In planting farming business, It is not just enough to have the right soil, they must prepare and maintain the soil for maximum yield. According to research, there are various considerations a farmer must make when choosing and maintaining the soil for his plantain plantation and here are some:
A Plantain plantation will do best in a loamy soil. This is because this soil has a higher ratio of organic components. So, organic components such as decaying plants and animals provide nutrients and water. All these make the soil loose and fertile and suitable for plantain to grow.
The best type of soil for plantain is loam. Loamy soils are the best producing soils for plantain farming because they contain a large percentage of organic components, compared to the inorganic parts.
Organic materials, such as decaying plants and insects, provide soil with air, nutrients and water-retaining matter. This combination of ingredients, when combined with mineral particles, allows soil to remain loose and fertile.
However, for shallow soils, deep feeding crops like plantain can deplete them easily. They will naturally do well within the first few years and then die. To prevent this, the soil fertility must continuously be improved with manure, compost and mulching. So, in a nutshell, while loamy soil in the south is good to raise plantains, it must be fertilized continuously to keep the nutrients.
Meanwhile, A soil’s fertility can be improved by adding chicken manure, compost, wood ash (for extra potassium) and mulching. The chicken manure will not only increase the soil fertility, it will increase its water-retaining capacity.
2) Drainage and Irrigation
While drainage means removing water from the soil, irrigation is the direct opposite. But these two must be done in a way that the soil is not too dry to kill the plantain and the soil is not too moist to prevent air from getting to the roots. The amount of water supply must be fairly more than the amount of water drained so that the soil can contain moisture at any point in time.
Land used for agriculture must be properly drained and irrigated. The amount of water supply should be fairly greater than the amount of water removed such that the soil contains moisture at any point in time. This is because too much water supply can result in water logging which reduces the amount of air available to plants’ roots.
When the water supply is insufficient, it can lead to desiccation. Consideration must be made for planting in dry season in terms of the availability of good, quality water for irrigation. In addition, plantain farm must have a good drainage system.
Spread a thick layer of mulch on the soil to help conserve moisture and protect the shallow roots. The huge soft leaves evaporate a lot, and you have to keep up the supply. Plantains also need high humidity to be happy.
3) Land Size
The recommended spacing is 3m between the plantain rows and 2m within the row. This gives them enough space to thrive but keeps them not too far apart so they can protect each other from too much sunlight. If it is spaced this way, one hectare of land should contain up to 1600 plants!
It is certainly not difficult to get the proper soil for your plantain to thrive. All you need is loamy soil, constant irrigation and drainage and regular manure to improve the nutrient quality of the soil.