Pre-planting activities in banana production include; site selection, land preparation, spacing and marking, digging holes, selection of planting materials and manure preparation and application.
• Ensure well-drained soils to allow the plant roots easily penetrate, water infiltration and air flow.
• Bananas grow very well in loam soils. Stony, murram, sandy and very clay soils are very costly to improve.
• Gently sloping areas are preferable for banana establishment
After selecting the appropriate site, clear the bush and remove tree stumps if any. When clearing a site of unwanted bush, it is important to remove everything, including root systems and tree stumps. Where necessary, use herbicides with precautional measures to avoid perennial weeds.
Spacing, marking and digging holes
• Appropriate spacing in banana farming reduces competition for nutrients, allows sufficient light penetration, encourages good root system development and eases implementation of management practices.
• The recommended spacing for banana should be 3m x 3m (10ft x 10ft).
• Dig holes of 90cm (3ft) length, 90cm (3ft) width and 60cm (2ft) depth, to allow for root expansion and water retention.
• Seed selection: A farmer can select seed or plant varieties based on various factors including yield, use, pests and disease resistance, drought tolerance and maturity period. Planting materials can be tissue culture plantlets and/or suckers.
• Tissue culture plants are healthy, pest & disease-free plants, grow uniformly and vigorously.
• Suckers: When planting suckers, sword suckers are preferred to water suckers for their vigour and strength. Suckers must be corm pared to ensure they are free of weevils and nematodes. It is also not advisable to transfer soil from one plantation to another because of the risk of cross-infection.