Maureen Atsali wrote:If you look at your "pups" (we call them suckers) do they have round, fat leaves, or sharp, narrow leaves? These are a good indicator of corm health. The narrow leaf, called a "sword sucker", indicates a good, strong, healthy corm. It is getting all it needs from the corm and doesn't need big fleshy leaves. These are the best kind to dig up and transplant, as they will give good fruit yeilds. The sucker with fat round leaves is a water sucker. These indicate a weaker corm, as the sucker needs big leaves to get more sun to support themselves. These are not good for planting. They grow slowly and produce substandard fruits.
So some questions... Where did your bananas come from? Tissue culture, water suckers or sword suckers? If you started with water suckers, you will get a slow start.
If your " pups" are water suckers, I would slash them down, they are taking energy from the corm which could be used for fruits. They make good animal fodder and mulch.
Any time I get more than 4 sword suckers, I remove a couple to plant elsewhere. Leave a couple to replace the mature one, remove the rest to save that energy.
I would also say, be patient. Our first bananas took about 16 to 18 months to mature and fruit. Our soil is pretty crappy, so I figured that's why it took so long. We also throw manure and mulch around ours.
Maureen Atsali wrote:Hi Erich, I can't really advise about the swales, since we go the opposite route and plant ours in pits. I am guessing you planted yours on berms because it is too wet to plant them down?
Are the nutrients getting a chance to get down to the corm, or might they be washing into the swales? I have seen Indian banana farmers who dig a little ring around the banana, and fill it with whatever goodness they want to feed the banana. Or if you have stones, you could build little stone circles.
Another consideration - you mentioned a drought. Bananas will go dormant during extreme weather. They stop growing. Thus it could set them back a couple months.
Best of luck!
Rene Nijstad wrote:Hi Erich,
We are in a wet-dry tropical climate as well. Bananas planted on the swale mount don't do well here. The mount dries out quite quickly in the dry season and bananas like to have a lot of water. They also tend to fall more quickly when sticking out above the field. You could try planting some more below the swale mount, or inside the channel of the swale itself and compare if you see differences. Planting in pits as mentioned before also works. Because our terrain is rather steep, we plant them on terraces. On slopes we see the same problem as on the swale mounts, not enough water in the dry season and they fall over more often.
Rene Nijstad wrote:I don't know how much rain you normally get, so it could be way more than what we receive. We're getting on average about 1200-1400 mm per year I think, from October to December, then mostly a pause of about 2 months and then it rains again from March to May or a bit longer. We have bananas and plantain all over the land in lots of different circumstances, dry or wet, sheltered or open, on slopes, on terraces and below swales.
I'll upload 2 pictures. The first one shows plantain we got from our wettest spot, there water comes up out of the ground during the rainy season. It's been completely waterlogged for months, during the time the fruits developed. It clearly rather likes this super wet spot. The picture below shows the fruits from plants on slopes, where water retention is low, compared to what we get from the plants in terraces. Not super wet, just wet and then dryer during the dry times. Both of these were harvested at the end of the drought caused by last El Niño.
Maureen Atsali wrote:Keep in mind that while bananas are thirsty, they don't like wet feet. They will rot and get diseased if they are in standing water or an excessively soggy place. I planted some in a rather swampy area. They did fantastic in the drought, but rotted in the rains. If you are planting in a soggy area, I think you did the right thing to put them up on the berms.