Building competitive banana production systems for a sustainable future (BA09038)
What was it all about?
This project, which ran between 2010 and 2014, investigated factors that might maintain crop uniformity in bananas. Standard production techniques of continuous ratooning see bunches emerge evenly throughout the year after three crop cycles, which increases labour costs.
A research trial was set up at the South Johnstone Research Station to investigate the influence of the following factors on crop uniformity and susceptibility to plant pests and diseases:
- Planting material type
- Time of planting
- Plant density and arrangement
- Strategic nurse-suckering of laggard plants in a population.
The research was destroyed by tropical cyclone Yasi in February 2011 reducing the findings from the project, however some results were achieved.
Main findings were…
- A single row arrangement at 1333 plants per hectare maintained a significantly higher crop uniformity that the traditional double row arrangement
- Single rows also had less yellow sigatoka
- Time of planting influenced crop uniformity, with lower uniformity when bunch development occurred during the autumn and winter periods
- Time of planting also had a significant effect on the incidence of yellow sigatoka and banana scab moth.
After the research trial was destroyed by the cyclone, the objectives of the project were revised to focus on recovery practices, specifically the use of ethephon injections to manage crop timing.
Three field trials and assessments of fruit residues in crops were carried out to establish the best application rates and patterns of use for ethephon. It was found to be an effective replacement for ratooning, using only around one third the labour. The data was used to support a minor use permit application for its use to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation
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