Agric4profits.com Market Place

Thinning of Plantain Suckers and the Importance

Plantain, Musa × paradisiaca (syn. Musa sapientum) is an herbaceous perennial belonging to the family Musaceae. Plantains are distinguished from bananas by their fruit which, although morphologically very similar to bananas, are actually longer, firmer and possess a higher starch content and thicker skin than their sweeter relative. Like banana, the plant is tall and tree-like with a sturdy pseudostem and large broad leaves arranged spirally at the top.

The leaves are large blades with a pronounced central midrib and obvious veins. They can reach up to 2.7 m (8.9 ft) in length and up to 0.6 m (2.0 ft) in width. Each pseudostem produces a group of flowers from which the fruits develop in an hanging cluster. In commercial plantations, the parent plant dies after harvest and is replaced with a daughter plant. However, a plantation can grow for 25 years or more if managed properly. The trees can reach heights between 2 and 9 m (6.6–29.5 ft).

Unlike those of most other bananas, plantain suckers develop very slowly. After harvest, all suckers start to grow at the same time and most have to be eliminated to stop competition. The tallest is left to guarantee the follow up and maintain the density.
Thinning usually has to be repeated a month later, as new suckers will have emerged by that time.

A sucker is a shoot that develops from a lateral bud on the rhizome and emerges from the soil usually near the parent plant. It is a form of asexual, or vegetative, reproduction, that makes the banana plant perennial. Suckers emerge and ensure a more or less continuous supply of shoots, each capable of producing an inflorescence. They have been used as planting material since the early days of domestication by severing them from the mat and transplanting them to a new location.

Both wild species of plantains / bananas and cultivated plantains / bananas produce suckers. The horticultural term for the clump of shoots and the rhizome through which they are interconnected is a mat. The botanical term for a mat is genet and for the above-ground ground shoots is ramet.

Wild species may produce few or many suckers. Over time, some form dense and compact mats. This strategy, together with dormant seeds that germinate in disturbed soil, enables wild bananas to quickly colonise the edges of disturbed forest clearings. Norman Simmonds referred to wild bananas as “jungle weeds”.

Suckers are thinned with a machete. The sucker pseudo stem is cut off near its corm and the point of the machete is twisted in the growing tip, thus killing it.

An excess of suckers can lead to reduced bunch weight, especially in ratoon crops. The number of suckers that are allowed to develop and mature is managed by pruning (desuckering).

Considerations such as the evenness of the crop and the position of the sucker in relation to the direction of the row and in relation to the bunch on the parent plant influence the selection of the follower in commercial plantations of Cavendish cultivars. Suckers can also be managed to time harvesting to meet market demands.

Read Also: Required Spacing for Plantain Cultivation

Thinning of Plantain Suckers and the Importance

N. Roux, Bioversity International
A fruit-bearing parent plant (left) and a ratoon sucker (right).

Types of Plantain / Banana Suckers

Sword sucker (left) and water sucker (right) (photo by C. Staver, Bioversity)

(Image Description: Sword sucker (left) and water sucker (right) (photo by C. Staver, Bioversity)

The sucker appears above the soil and its state is characterised in part by its appearance. Initially, suckers have only leaf sheaths without a midrib or lamina. In horticultural terminology they are called peeper suckers.

Some remain at this stage without further growth. Others continue to grow and produce leaves with a midrib and a very narrow lamina. They are then called sword suckers. Sword suckers gradually produce leaves whose laminae are broad and of the adult form (see photo).

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, although this term is poorly defined, and it can be difficult to determine whether a sucker at this stage is vegetative or contains an unemerged bunch.

Lateral buds may survive on sections of the rhizome after the aerial stems of earlier generations have decayed. Suckers that arise from these lateral buds usually have a small rhizome and broad leaves. They are called water suckers and 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. Oppenheimer and Gottreich compared sword and water suckers, excised from the parent plant and of equivalent height at planting. For plants that flowered at the same time, bunches from sword suckers and water suckers were of a similar size.

Read Also: Selecting the site for Plantain Cultivation

Common Pests and Diseases

Diseases

Category : Fungal

Anthracnose Colletotrichum musae

Symptoms
Brown spots on fruit peel; large brown to black areas; black lesions on green fruit.
Cause
Fungus.
Comments
Wet conditions promote growth and spread of disease; spread by rainfall through plant or banana bunch.
Management

Commercially produced fruit should be washed and dipped in fungicide prior to shipping; protect fruit from injury; remove flower parts which can harbour fungus.

Black sigatoka Mycosphaerella fijiensis

Symptoms
Red/brown flecks or spots on underside or topside of leaves; spots with dark or yellow border and grey centre; death of leaf surface; bunch not developing.
Cause
Fungus.
Comments
Currently the most important disease of banana; promoted by high moisture and spores spread by wind.
Management

Export plantations may require regular fungicide applications; increase plant spacing to improve air circulation and reduce humidity; remove leaves with mature spots.

Panama disease (Fusarium wilt) Fusarium oxysporum

Symptoms
Yellowing of older leaves; splitting of leaf sheaths; leaves wilting and buckling; death of entire canopy.
Cause
Fungus.
Comments
Lethal disease; spread in soil or running water.
Management

Use disease free seed pieces; currently no effective treatment once plants are infected.

Rhizome rot Erwinia carotovora
Erwinia chrysanthemi

Symptoms
Pseudostem breaks from rhizome; rhizome will not germinate; internal tissue yellow/brown and watery.
Cause
Bacteria.
Comments
Bacteria live in soil and enter plant through wounds; disease encouraged by wet, humid conditions.
Management

Select only high quality, disease-free rhizomes fro propagation; disinfect all tools used for propagation regularly; allow seed pieces to dry before planting.

Category : Viral

Bunchy top Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV)

Symptoms
Dark green streaks in leaves; chlorotic and upturned leaf margins; leaves brittle and erect; plant has a ‘bunchy top’; no bunches produced.
Cause
Virus.
Comments
Aphid transmitted; when infected symptoms appear after two more leaves are produced.
Management

Plant less susceptible varieties; destroy infected plants to prevent spread of disease.

Category : Bacterial

Moko disease Ralstonia solanacearum

Symptoms
Older leaves chlorotic, wilted and collapsing; spreads to entire canopy; collapse of pseudostem.
Cause
Bacterium.
Comments
Can be spread root to root or by insects or human activities such as machete pruning.
Management

Plantations should be regularly monitored for presence of disease; if Moko is present, male buds should be removed and all tools thoroughly disinfected; infected plants may need to be destroyed along with any neighbouring plants.

Pests

Category : Insects

Banana aphid Pentalonia nigronervosa

Symptoms
Deformed plants with curled, shriveled leaves; if infestation is severe, galls may form on leaves; colonies of aphids usually present in crown of plant at base of pseudostem or between the outer leaf sheaths; aphid is soft-bodied and red-brown to almost black in color.
Cause
Insect.
Comments
Colonies are often tended by ants; populations can build rapidly during warm weather.
Management

Chemical control does not provide protection against transmission of Banana bunchy top and direct feeding damage is not usually severe enough to warrant spraying; insecticidal soaps can help control aphid populations; plants infected with bunch top should be removed and destroyed to prevent spread.

Banana weevil Cosmopolites sordidus

Symptoms
Reduced plant growth; reduced fruit production; tunnels may be visible in corm as rounded holes up to 8 mm in diameter; plants wilting and toppling over; destruction of root system; plant death; adult insect is a hard-shelled beetle which is almost black in color; adult is commonly found between leaf sheaths; larvae are creamy-white, legless grubs with a red-brown head.
Cause
Insect.
Comments
Insects are nocturnal, feeding and mating only at night;
Management

Plant only healthy plant material, do not plant if any tunnels are visible; hot water treatment of clean trimmed suckers can be used to kill off many eggs and grubs; applications of neem powder can reduce weevil numbers; appropriate insecticides applied at time of planting can help control weevil numbers.

Coconut scale Aspidiotus destructor

Symptoms
Small, flat, whitish scales, usually on undersides of leaves but may also attach to petioles, peduncles and fruit; plant tissue discolored and yellowing.
Cause
Insect.
Comments
Coconut scale attacks a large number of hosts including coconut and other palm species, avocado, cassava, papaya, guava and sugar cane; most common in tropical regions.
Management

Biological control is the best way to manage scale, with lady beetles providing the most effective protection.

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.
Have you visited our Market Place Today? Follow this link to visit Agric4profits.com Market Place now to check out our affordable products & services that might interest you and solve your current needs at a very cheap price. You can also Advertise your Own Products & Services at the Market Place for Free by clicking on this link to Get Started!

Leave a Reply

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