National banana development and extension project (BA13004)
What was it all about?
This project was tasked with helping deliver the outcomes of levy-funded and other R&D back to the banana industry, to help growers and other stakeholders take up new information, technologies and approaches, and make better decisions for their businesses. Running from 2013 to 2017, it was responsible for…
- National banana roadshow events, held biennially in six locations across the country
- Field walks and industry workshops, including the latest Panama R&D Open Day, held in May
- Industry meetings, including NextGen young banana grower groups
- Grower training activities, including training related to the Banana Best Management Practices Environmental Guideline
- The development of resources, including fact sheets, videos and articles for Australian Bananas magazine (see the ‘act now’ section below for links)
- Direct engagement with growers and others in the banana supply chain.
The project also established and used four demonstration sites looking at various soil and variety management options…
- The use of soil amendments to promote soil biological activity and suppress plant-parasitic nematodes was studied.
Hay, Japanese millet, compost, mill-ash and biochar were used, though unfortunately the demonstration site closed early due to the detection of Panama TR4 on the trial property. Early results did show mill-ash applied to the surface and incorporated into the soil had higher and more consistent soil moisture, resulting in faster growth of plants. Hay applied to the surface also resulted in some significant increases in soil moisture and plant growth.
- Four Cavendish varieties with reported Panama TR4 resistance were compared to the industry standard variety, Williams.
The agronomic performance and quality characteristics of GCTCV 218, GCTCV 119, CJ19, DMP25 were looked at. The results:
- Overall, CJ19 responded very poorly to cold wet weather, was slow growing and had significantly smaller bunches
- DPM25 was virtually identical to Williams for the measured characteristics, however shading of the block may have contributed to its slightly slower crop cycle
- GCTCV 218 had bunch weights and finger length comparable to Williams DPM25, but demonstrated a much longer crop cycle period
- GCTCV 119 was very tall, spindly and exceedingly slow to bunch compared to all the other varieties.
- A trial site looked at compost and groundcovers in controlling weeds, versus herbicide applications.
Soil microbial activity did not change significantly, though there were differences in the plant parasitic nematode populations, particularly two months following treatment application. At the two-month point, compost produced higher levels of spiral nematodes in the soil, and the groundcover treatments had higher levels of spiral and lesion nematodes in the roots. However, 18 months and 23 months following application these nematode levels were consistent across all treatments. Meanwhile, the addition of compost and the presence of groundcovers increased the pH and reduced available aluminum levels in the soil, while compost also increased soil calcium levels and the ‘cation exchange capacity’ (which influences the soil’s ability to hold nutrients, and deters against acidification).
- A further trial site looking at soil amendments involved compost and poultry manure versus grower practice.
The manure treatment resulted in a higher soil pH, and both treatments increased soil carbon levels. The treatments did not affect the bunch weights over the 20-month trial period.
The project also ran a range of grower-requested trials into innovative ways to deal with common problems and areas of in-field management. The topics included…
- Bagging, with bag colour found to significantly affect the colour of fruit over winter. The bag treatments were yellow/silver; double yellow/silver; black/silver and homemade black bags. The fruit in the black bags were lighter, however under peel chilling was more obvious.
- Novel nitrogen application. Here, no injected urea solutions produced any significant changes to growth of plants.
- Chemical removal of banana flower remnants. Unfortunately no selected chemicals – irrespective of application method – showed promise in achieving this. Chemicals studied included ethephon, vinegar, sodium chloride, lime sulphur, napthaline acetic acid, gibberellic acid, abscisic acid, benzlyadenine and indole butyric acid.
- Use of gibberellic acid (GA) in de-suckering. Three different rates of GA were studies, but at 50, 300 and 600ppm did not reduce or increase sucker production (nor did it affect growth parameters, suggesting higher rates are an avenue of further investigation).
Access fact sheets produced by the project:
- How to conduct on-farm research
- Banana scab moth
- Top ways to manage banana fungicide resistance
- Managing fruit speckle
- Managing soil erosion
- Banana spider mites
- What to consider when preparing for tropical cyclones
Watch videos produced by the project (please note production year, as some are now older resources):
- On-farm biosecurity: managing footwear (2016)
- Nuffield Scholar Matt Abbott (2016)
- Panama symptoms and how to protect your farm (2015)
- How to identify and report plants that may be infected with Panama TR4 (2015)
- Keeping Australian bananas free from virus diseases (2015)
- Diagnostic testing: safeguarding the Australian banana industry (2015)
- Testing new banana varieties for resistance to Panama Race 1 (2015)
- Use of vegetated ground covers can suppress Panama disease in bananas (2015 presentation)
- Observations of on-farm biosecurity practices in the Philippines (2015 presentation)
- Developing a standard industry banana carton (2014)
- International insights with banana Nuffield Scholar Paul Inderbitzin (2014)
- Importing banana material and accessing new varieties (2014)
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation
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