One of the most well-liked and commonly eaten fruits worldwide is the banana. Bananas are not only a common household fruit in India, but they also provide farmers with a sizable amount of revenue. The Robusta Banana (Musa balbisiana), one of the several banana types grown in the nation, stands out for its distinctive traits, tolerance to a variety of agro-climatic conditions, and great output potential.
In this blog, we will get in-depth information about Robusta banana farming in India, including cultivation methods, pest and disease control, harvesting, and post-harvest handling, which will be covered in this thorough reference.
1.2 Understanding Robusta banana
The triploid Robusta banana, often referred to as “Balinga” in India, is a cross between Cavendish and Musa balbisiana, a wild diploid banana. It is prized for its sturdiness, production, and capacity to survive challenging circumstances. It is a member of the Musaceae family. Robusta bananas are distinguished by their huge, robust pseudostems, thick leaves, and bunches that are particularly fruitful. Compared to Cavendish bananas, the fruits are medium to large in size, have an obvious angular form, and have thicker skin.
1.3 Selecting suitable land
For the growth of Robusta bananas to be successful, the correct land must be chosen. The ideal location should have soil that drains well, is fertile, and has a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Additionally, it should not be waterlogged since too much moisture might cause root problems. The optimum soil types for banana growing are said to be loamy and sandy loam. Before planting, examine the soil for nutrients and make any necessary corrections.
1.4 Planting Robusta bananas
Robusta Both conventional suckers and plants used in tissue culture can be used to multiply bananas. The branches that sprout from the base of mature banana plants are known as traditional suckers. To grow new banana plants, pluck these suckers from the mother plant and transplant them. On the other hand, tissue-cultured plants are grown in a controlled environment and are disease-free. When compared to conventional suckers, they provide more consistency and better yields.
1.4.2 Planting layout
Robusta bananas should be planted at a density of 1,600 to 2,000 plants per hectare. Plants should be spaced apart by around 2.5 to 3 meters, and rows should be separated by roughly 2.5 to 3.5 meters. For higher production, staggered planting helps to maximize the use of available areas and sunlight exposure.
1.4.3 Planting procedure
- For proper soil tilth, prepare the land by plowing and harrowing.
- 45 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm trenches should be dug, and they should be filled with a mixture of topsoil, well-decomposed farmyard manure, and neem cake.
- In order to close air holes at the base of the tissue-cultured or sucker plants, place them in the center of the pit.
- Immediately after planting, water the fresh seedlings.
1.5 Crop Management
All phases of the Robusta banana’s growth require enough water. Drip irrigation is strongly advised since it reduces water waste by supplying a regulated and effective water supply straight to the plant’s root zone. In areas with consistent rainfall, adding drip irrigation during dry times might be helpful. Avoid water logging since it might cause root infections and harm your plants.
High yields and healthy banana plants depend on proper nourishment. It is essential to use a balanced fertilizer regimen that includes nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Before planting, apply well-composted farmyard manure or compost, and replenish it with the right amounts of NPK fertilizer at various development stages. Foliar sprays can also be employed to successfully correct any nutritional deficits.
1.5.3 Weed control
Weeds can also seriously affect the growth and yield of bananas. During the early stages of this crop’s growth, regular weeding is essential. Weed growth and soil moisture can also be managed or controlled by mulching with organic materials.
1.5.4 Pest and disease management
Robusta bananas are vulnerable to a number of pests and diseases, which, if not controlled, can have a detrimental effect on the crop. Banana aphids, thrips, and fruit flies are frequent pests, and illnesses like Panama disease and Sigatoka leaf spot can do serious harm.
IPM practices, such as the use of biopesticides and natural predators, can aid in pest management while utilizing the fewest chemicals possible. Successful management depends on regular crop monitoring and a quick response to pest or disease outbreaks.
1.6 Flowering and Harvesting
Robusta Depending on a number of variables, including temperature, soil fertility, and cultural practices, banana plants normally take between 9 and 12 months to reach the blooming stage. The terminal bud releases the inflorescence, which is surrounded by the bract, a protective covering.
The intended level of fruit maturity and market preferences might affect when to harvest a crop. When the fruits are still green and fully developed, bananas can be collected for long-distance transportation. Harvesting is possible when the fruits turn yellow and are just beginning to ripen for local markets.
1.7 Post-harvest handling
The quality and shelf life of Robusta bananas is heavily dependent on post-harvest management. To avoid damage and reduce post-harvest losses, proper handling, storage, and transportation are vital.
1.7.1 Grading and Sorting:
Based on their size and quality, sort the gathered bunches. To guarantee uniformity across each batch, grade them in accordance with market standards.
Use robust and suitable packaging materials to safeguard the bananas during storage and transit. To avoid damage, don’t over-pack.
To delay ripening and increase shelf life, store the graded and packaged bananas in a cool, well-ventilated environment. Larger commercial enterprises can use cold storage facilities.
Robusta banana cultivation in India offers farmers a great chance to diversify their sources of income and boost the nation’s agricultural economy. Farmers may produce high-quality food and maximize yields by using the proper cultivation techniques, pest and disease management strategies, and post-harvest handling methods.
For Robusta Banana cultivation to be successful over the long term, like with any agricultural endeavor, ongoing education and adaptability to changing circumstances are crucial. Individual farmers will gain by embracing innovation and implementing sustainable practices, and the agricultural industry in India as a whole will expand and thrive as a result.