Sunday, May 19, 2024

Suckers as a Type of Propagating Material

A sucker is a branch of the parent plant that that will occasionally appear in a leaf axil of the plant. Propagating can be achieved by cutting the suckers from the parent plant and rooting in a rooting medium, e.g. African violet.

Some trees and roots have shallow roots which produce separate plants called suckers. Cutting through the roots around the suckers helps to separate the suckers, more easily with smaller suckers about 60cm.

The advantages of suckers compared to corm bits are ease of preparing suckers for planting and ease of identifying suckers qualities (bad, good) through observations of the parent plants. Suckers are best planted at the onset of the rainy season to allow them access to sufficient and prolonged water supply.

In banana, young plants or offspring’s (side shoots/suckers) are produced by a mature plant, namely; water sucker (a weak side shoot with wide leaves, a surface runner), sword sucker (a side shoot with narrow pale sword-shaped leaves), maiden sucker (a large sucker with large leaves, that has not yet flowered) and peepers (a young shoot with scale leaves). Sword suckers are the only suckers suitable for propagating banana.

Read Also: Seeds as a Type of Propagating Material

Generally, suckers appears above the soil and below are the main types of suckers that can be used for propagation as follows;

1. Peeper suckers – These are small suckers that appears just above the ground and bearing scaly leaves only. Peeper suckers are very small pseudostems (1-12 inches tall) that develop into either sword or water suckers.

2. Sword suckers – Large sucker with lanceolate leaves. Sword suckers gradually produce leaves whose laminae are broad and of the adult form. Sword suckers are small pseudostems (12-48 inches tall) with narrow leaves. Sword suckers will develop into fruitful psuedostems at maturity. 

3. Maiden suckers – Large non-fruiting sucker with foliage leaves. The sucker selected to replace the parent plant is called the follower or ratoon. Sometimes, ratoon suckers that have not fruited are referred to as maiden suckers.

4. Water suckers – These are suckers that arise from lateral buds which usually have a small rhizome and broad leaves. Meanwhile, their connection to the rhizome is often structurally weak.

For this reason, water suckers are not suitable for selection as a ratoon to continue the life of the mat into the next generation. However, water suckers can still be a source of planting material to establish a new plantation.

Water suckers are small pseudostems (12-48 inches tall) with broad leaves. Water suckers are not well attached to the rhizome and generally produce weak plants and less fruit than sword suckers

Read Also: Introduction to Plantains and their Environment

How to Propagate using Suckers

Suckers as a Type of Propagating Material

1. The first step is to loosen the soil around the sucker with a fork, and then carefully expose and lift the sucker and associated roots, being careful not to disturb the parent plant.

2. Using sharp secateurs or a knife, sever the sucker, making sure that it has fibrous roots on the detached portion. Replace and firm the soil around the parent plant.

3. Trim the sucker by removing the main root or stolon (creeping underground stem) up to the fibrous roots.

4. Reduce long, leafy shoots by about half to limit drying out of the sucker after planting and to promote bushy re-growth.

5. Plant the sucker into fertile, free-draining soil enriched with organic matter such as well-rotted garden compost, manure or leafmould. If potting up the sucker, multipurpose compost is fine to use.

6. Water well after firming the soil around the roots. The roots are usually insufficient to sustain the plant without careful watering for the first season.

Read Also: Methods of Planting Plantain Suckers (PPS)

Sucker Management

The following are the main types of suckers available for planting;

a) Sword Sucker

A sucker next to but only superficially attach to the mother rhizome with broad leaves at an early stage. Water suckers produce inferior fruit which are not healthy banana clump and are therefore not recommended.

b) Water sucker

A sucker next to but only superficially attach to the mother rhizome with broad leaves at an early stage. Water suckers produce inferior fruit which are not healthy banana clump and are therefore not recommended.

c) Peeper sucker

Peepers which are very young suckers produce late and poor crop. Four month old suckers and split rhizomes with each having about 2.0kg produced heavier bunches compared with those obtained from peepers.

d) Rhizomes

Whole or split rhizomes can also be used when suckers are not available. Bits of rhizome of 2.0kg or more may be planted in the nursery for sprouting or directly sown in the main field. for quick multiplication of a variety rhizome bits may be used. Though the plants will require little longer time to fruit.

Read Also: How to Prepare Plantain Suckers for Planting

Generally, regardless of the type of sucker material used for planting, there is need for proper sucker management because an excess of suckers can lead to reduced bunch weight especially ratoon crops.

Therefore, the number of suckers that are allowed to develop and mature can be managed through the process known as pruning also known as desuckering.

Suckers can also be managed in order to time harvesting as to meet market demands. However, Sucker propagation method is most suitable for any non-grafted plants that send up new shoots or suckers from their roots.  

Meanwhile, Grafted plants are not suitable for this method of propagation, as suckers from grafted plants will be of the rootstock not the named cultivar.

Suckers from the rootstock do not resemble the cultivar. They can occasionally be useful as rootstocks for grafting and budding. However, certain considerations such as the evenness of the crop as well as the position of the sucker in relation to the direction of the row and bunch on the parent plant influence the selection in commercial plantations.

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Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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