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Main Banana Discussion This is where we discuss our banana collections; tips on growing bananas, tips on harvesting bananas, sharing our banana photos and stories.


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Old 08-22-2011, 11:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
Location: Meridianville, AL
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Default Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

Help! We have been growing bananas for the past four years in Huntsville, AL and this year for the first time we have 5 plants in bloom with about 50 bananas on each plant. We dig them up in late October to store for the winter. Will they ripen before then, and if not, what do we do? How will I know when they are ripe? The first bloomed in early July and the fifth is just getting ready to put out it's bloom. I believe that 2 are Blue Java and the other 3 are Grand Nain. And last question...is there nothing you can do to save the mother plant? Like cut off the bloom? Thanks for your help!
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Old 08-22-2011, 11:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

You may stand a chance at getting mature fruit on the ones that fruited earliest. Wait as long as possible (like the day before your first frost is forecast) and cut the entire bunch of bananas off. Bring them inside once they stop dripping (beware of the dripping sap from the cut because it will stain anything it drips on brown and it will not wash off once dry!) and keep them in a cool, dry place, such as on a counter or on top of your refrigerator. They should eventually ripen up, though it may take them several more weeks. There is nothing you can do to save the mother plant once the bloom has initiated. She should have several pups surrounding her, however, to carry on the next generation. Bananas bloom only once, then that stalk dies, so cutting off the bloom is not an option.
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Old 08-22-2011, 11:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

Thanks for the reply! I had read on here that I couldn't save the mother, but was still hoping! Will both of these types of bananas turn yellow when ripe? When we dig our bananas, we leave them as tall as possible for the winter so they have a good start when we replant them. Is this how we go them to bloom this year since they are only in the ground from mid-April to end of October?
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Old 08-22-2011, 12:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

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Originally Posted by jsclwal View Post
Thanks for the reply! I had read on here that I couldn't save the mother, but was still hoping! Will both of these types of bananas turn yellow when ripe? When we dig our bananas, we leave them as tall as possible for the winter so they have a good start when we replant them. Is this how we go them to bloom this year since they are only in the ground from mid-April to end of October?
Yes, you should see them both start to turn yellow as they ripen. You'll likely have a lot of bananas to eat as they all tend to start ripening at the same time when you have to cut them all at once. Make some banana bread with anything you can't eat!

I would guess that is the reason you were able to get them to bloom. It's always best not to cut them back too far if you can help it. The bud comes all the way from the very base of the plant up through the entire length of the pseudostem so any time you cut a banana back very far, you run the risk of severing the bud (if the plant is old enough) and killing that plant. I live in Houston and I wrap my plants to help protect them from our winter temps here. When I unwrap them in the spring, I very carefully cut back any winter damage inch by inch until I reach good, firm, green growth in the center of the pstem. I know of many people who just whack theirs back to the ground, or near the ground, every year and then wonder why their plants never bloom. Umm, because you likely cut the bud off!
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Old 08-22-2011, 12:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

Thanks again! Your replies have been very helpful. We'll see what happens. We are thrilled to finally have blooms this year! Banana bread and banana splits for everyone!
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Old 08-22-2011, 04:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

Save some for the freezer and enjoy later.
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Old 08-22-2011, 04:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

Frozen and covered in chocolate!
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Old 08-22-2011, 05:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

My mystery banana just bloomed a week ago in Connecticut, hope they mature before fall!
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Old 08-22-2011, 05:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

Wow! How long have yours been in the ground? Didn't think the summer would be warm enough up there to get a bloom. Very cool!
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Old 08-22-2011, 06:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

I dug it up and put it in the basement last October and re-planted in April. I'm excited but the bloom hasn't opened yet.

Paul
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Old 08-22-2011, 07:43 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

How did you guys store the bananas, standing up, rootball wrapped in burlap?
Did you cut off the leaves?

Did you have a plastic bag over the root ball?

Any insight welcome since my attempt resulted in mostly rotten p-stems...
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Old 08-22-2011, 07:51 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

I cut all the leaves off - leaving the cigar leaf and just put mine on the concrete floor in basement with a loose plastic bag around rootball (Corm) to keep dirt from going everywhere - the temp was about 50-55F - I did nothing else until I planted again in the spring.

Paul

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Old 08-22-2011, 07:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

We cut all the leaves off, cut the stem as tall as possible, dig ours up, wash all the dirt off the corn, trim all the roots off, let it dry for a couple of days in the sun and put it in our crawl space under our house. Works every time. The first year we thought we'd keep them in our detached garage and run a kerosene heater when it got close to freezing and that was a disaster year! Most of them rotted. Under the house, they are great every year! No plastic to trap moisture. I've heard to wrap them in newspaper before putting them under there, but we have never bothered. I'm sure your location makes a difference as well. We are in very northern Alabama, almost to Tennessee. Maybe if you are too far north then the crawl space would get too cold, but it's perfect for ours. We also grow Musa Basjoo, which winter over in the ground, although it has to be cut to ground level after a freeze and mulched. The clump of Basjoo are about 14 feet tall this year and gorgeous!
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:03 PM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

I have also over wintered musa basjoo in CT in the ground - but one winter I got lazy and did not cover it and I think the water made it rot.
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:10 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

That is a hardy banana to winter over in CT! I always cover mine with about a foot of mulch after I cut them back and they were coming out of the ground this past year the end of March, early April.
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Old 08-25-2011, 07:23 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

My grandfather-in-law grew bananas on Sand Mountain. He said it took 5 years and I hear the story every time I see him because I have a banana farm
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Old 08-25-2011, 07:40 PM   #17 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Harvesting bananas in N. Alabama

It's taken us four years and now we have 5 with bananas and 2 more that are looking like they may bloom as well. Did his ripen so he could eat them? We're hoping that ours will ripen or get to the point where we can bring them in before the frost and hope for the best.
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