Thread: Height
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Old 12-30-2018, 12:06 AM   #16 (permalink)

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Default Re: Height

Originally Posted by ApeGoblin View Post
I want to avoid Cavendish for the same reason I want to grow a Polyculture, security. Most of the world's banana production is Cavendish, millions hectares of identical genetic clones, the value of which rivals a developed nation's GDP. It's a massive risk to global food security. Diversity is the key to sustainability. I'm thinking this would likely be an export oriented farm, as the Veganic market is strongest in the U.S. and U.K., Isreal is better situated to grow their own bananas. Diverse streams of income are important too though
The fact that Cavendish bananas are often planted in large monocultures, doesn't mean that they must be. If you intend to produce them in a mixed cropping system, then they will not be a monoculture, but they still have the potential to be a highly productive plant with easily marketable fruit. Many of the "exotic" varieties might taste good, but are not very productive by comparison, and so even if you get them across the world in decent shape (which is another fairly big challenge), they will likely need to be 3-4x as expensive.

Especially if you are planning to export, the entire banana supply chain is based on Cavendish, and other cultivars often do not react the same in shipping, and they can end up being relatively poor quality if they are treated the same as Cavendish. Cavendish bananas can actually be surprisingly good when not subjected to prolonged cold storage, or accidental chilling injury (which is common in grocery stores). Other varieties which can be quite tasty normally can likewise have their flavor profiles ruined by improper handling.

I know that you are just exploring potential at this point, but I would suggest to not discount Cavendish outright just because of its perceived reputation. It also has a reputation of being an extremely productive and resilient type of banana, it wouldn't be grown on such a massive scale if there weren't some very good things about it. You could consider Gros Michel types, which are considered higher quality (though somewhat less productive), but you need to be certain there is no Fusarium wilt in the area otherwise it will not be feasible, and the same goes for some other "exotic" cultivars. Just because a banana is non-Cavendish, it doesn't mean it has anything special going for it, many are just as or even more susceptible to the same diseases that affect Cavendish.

There is a misperception that Cavendish bananas were created for the industry, and that in it's creation quality was sacrificed for production, which is not true at all. Cavendish bananas are a "landrace" meaning they were developed over thousands of years by farmers just through selection, they were not intentionally bred. They are every bit as unique and amazing as any other traditional cultivar that is not grown in mass monocultures, in their apparent homeland of North Vietnam and Southern China, they are a village banana grown mostly in home gardens. The really amazing thing about Cavendish bananas is that among all the mega-industrialized crops grown in the world today, I believe bananas might be the only crop where that huge industry is based on a traditional landrace cultivar, not something that came out of a breeding program. So, in my view, any issues you might have with Cavendish production really ought to be aimed at the systems in which they are grown, but not at the plant itself.
Growing bananas in Colorado, Hawaii and Washington since 2004.
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