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Banana Books, Book Reviews, & Other Reading Material This forum is the book review forum. Share with your peers your thoughts on what you've read, and also share your thoughts of what your considering reading. Please also use this forum to share links to banana research and reading material on the web.


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Old 11-10-2009, 10:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Everyone should have bananas in their yards!

Great reading !found while searching for info on Brazilian Banana.

Everyone should have bananas in their yards
by Diana Duff
Special To West Hawaii Today

Sunday, March 1, 2009 7:24 AM HST
The banana is a familiar tropical fruit that has become a worldwide staple. Not only is the fruit delicious and nutritious, but the plants can also be easily grown in Kona to great advantage. Every Hawaiian property should have a stand of bananas.

The trees have several assets beyond the production of fresh fruit. Because they grow rapidly and are mostly water, they become a quick wall of water providing both a visual and sound barrier for your property. Their fast growth makes them an excellent source of instant shade as well.

Ken Love, with the help of many Hawaiian banana experts, recently completed a survey of Big Island bananas that has resulted in a poster with photographs of 50 local varieties. You can view the poster online at http://www.hawaiifruit.net/bib1417-lowR.jpg.

The bananas grown here are all in the genus Musa in the Musaceae (banana) family. All are probably descendants of banana plants that originated in Malaysia before 2000 B.C. The fruit was cited in Buddhist texts as early as 600 B.C. and found growing in India around 300 B.C. by members of Alexander the Great's army. Alexander the Great is credited with bringing the banana to the West from India. Greek history reports that Antonius Musa, the doctor of emperor Octavius Augustus, was cultivating bananas as early as 63 B.C.

Later records reveal that Chinese banana plantations were in full operation less than 250 years later. It took another 500 years for bananas to find their way to Africa, borne by Islamic conquerors. From Africa, Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought the banana to America and the Caribbean Islands. Bananas, called maia in Hawaiian, were brought to these islands by the early Polynesians, as well as European settlers.

Along the way, many genetic mutations have occurred resulting in hundreds of varieties. Probably the best-known commercially grown variety arrived in England from China in the early 1500s and was named Cavendish. Most of the commercially grown varieties today are Musa acuminata, which includes the Cavendish and several other types. A second Musa sub-group, which also contains edible bananas, is Musa balbisiana. Crosses between these two sub-groups abound, providing a wide variety of fruit colors, sizes and tastes.

The best-known M. acuminata varieties grown here include the Chinese, or Dwarf Cavendish, which grow on small trees. The Williams variety grows on slightly larger trees. The tasty Bluefield was the most popular commercial banana in Hawaii dating from its introduction from Nicaragua in 1904 into the mid 1950s. The small-fruited Lady Finger is another M. acuminata variety that is popular in Hawaii.

Crosses between M. acuminata and M. balbisiana have resulted in several other popular varieties. Some of these crosses have starchy fruit and are referred to as "plantains," but others, including apple and Brazilian bananas, have a uniquely sweet flavor that is highly favored in the islands. Though somewhat less common, the Ice Cream banana is another local favorite.


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The key to identification of some bananas is in the shape of the tip. This tip is a characteristic of Brazilian bananas, including the favored apple cultivar. - Ken Love | Special To West Hawaii Today
Three groups of Hawaiian bananas are also results of the M. acuminata and M. balbisiana crosses. Though rare today, these were the bananas that first arrived here with Polynesian settlers. They include the Maoli, the Iholena and the Popoulu groups. All three produce large, starchy fruit with blunt ends that grow in compact bunches on tall trees.

Though several plants from the Musa ornata (a flowering banana) genus grow here, they are strictly ornamental and do not produce edible fruit. They are characterized by fruit with an upright growth habit.

Banana plants grow well in many tropical and subtropical locations. They will produce well from sea level to 3,000 feet in elevation, preferring temperatures ranging between 70 to 85 degrees and annual rainfall of about 80 inches. Depending on variety and growing conditions, trees range in height from 61/2 to 30 feet tall. All have large, bright green leaves that droop and turn brown as they mature and are replaced from the top and center of the plant. Avoid cutting leaves off before they fully desiccate, as the energy provided by their photosynthesis is essential to fruit production. A minimum of seven green leaves is usually needed for optimum health.

Bananas thrive when grown in groupings or mats. Mats of five to nine plants should contain plants of different ages to ensure a constant supply of fruit. Bananas will grow in a wide range of soil types in full sun. They prefer well-drained soils rich in organic matter and will thrive when well watered and maintained with a nutritional formula that is high in potassium. A healthy banana plant can be fully mature and produce fruit in less than a year.

Fruit may appear as soon as six months into the life of a tree but may develop slowly over a period of months. As they ripen, the bananas will get full and fat. The best way to know when fruit is ready to pick is to wait for one banana to turn yellow. This indicates ripeness in most varieties. Once a single banana ripens, the rest of the stalk should ripen within a week.


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Several varieties of bananas are grown as ornamentals rather than for their fruit. Most Musa ornata bear colorful flowers or fruit and have a tall upright growth habit. - Ken Love | Special To West Hawaii Today
Banana plants are not really "trees," but are herbaceous monocots with internal vascular structure similar to palms, bamboos or grasses like corn. They grow from underground corms that produce a single stalk that dies after fruiting. The best way to harvest bananas is to cut down the entire upright stalk to the ground. This encourages new suckers to grow.

Propagation by division is the most reliable reproduction technique for bananas.

Suckers can either be left in place to form a new plant or cut from the "mother" and replanted elsewhere. If selecting a sucker to replant, choose one with sword-shaped leaves.

Banana fruit is renowned for its high potassium content. The plants also have high potassium needs. A 10-5-20 or comparable fertilizer applied three times a year can provide adequate nutrition for good fruit formation. Since the plant itself is high in potassium and must be cut down following fruiting, simply dropping and chopping spent plants and applying other organic matter in the form of mulch can ensure the health of the plant and help it ward off the numerous pests and diseases that attack bananas.

Aphids, beetles, weevils, nematodes, caterpillars, fruit flies, mealy bugs, whitefly, trips and scale all consider bananas a host plant. Several fungi and bacterial diseases plague banana growers, as well as viral infections like banana bunchy top.

Keeping your plants healthy can help avoid pest problems. Insect or disease attacks should be dealt with immediately to lessen damage. If you need diagnosis or advice, call one of the local tropical or master gardener helplines or have a tissue sample analyzed by the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service.

Web information on bananas abounds. Start at Banana.com where you'll find information on nutritional and medicinal benefits, as well as recipes and more growing and harvesting tips.

Bananas are a pleasure to grow, regardless of the variety you choose. Just be sure to include at least one stand of bananas in your garden. They will grace you with a great hedge, some shade and plenty of healthy fruit.

Duff is the Kona Outdoor Circle education director and an organic farmer in Captain Cook.

Link West Hawaii Today - from archives > Features > Everyone should have bananas in their yards
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Old 11-11-2009, 12:01 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Everyone should have bananas in their yards!

Very neat article; Thank you.
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Old 11-11-2009, 12:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Everyone should have bananas in their yards!

It's funny, but not everyone grows bananas in Hawaii. When we had a house on Kauai our gardener discouraged us from planting bananas because he said, they became "ratty". We planted them anyway and had some nice apple bananas for a while - at least until they mysteriously stopped growing and were pulled out.
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Everyone should have bananas in their yards!

I mean we all obviously have a slight obsession with bananas in the first place, but if I lived in a region as capable of producing bananas year round outside as Hawaii, I would have a banana forest. One of the most important crops world wide, why the hell not?!
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Old 11-18-2009, 09:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
Love those bananas
 
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Default Re: Everyone should have bananas in their yards!

Quote:
Originally Posted by moonboy87 View Post
I mean we all obviously have a slight obsession with bananas in the first place, but if I lived in a region as capable of producing bananas year round outside as Hawaii, I would have a banana forest. One of the most important crops world wide, why the hell not?!
I agree Moonboy. I would have them every were if I had the room.. I never did notice before but a lot of people here were I live grow bananas. When im driving down the rode I notice them every were now. I love them.
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Old 11-18-2009, 10:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Everyone should have bananas in their yards!

Well I have a strong passion(we're not crazy) for growing banana's. If I had warmer weather I'd have cashews too... :^)
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Everyone should have bananas in their yards!

That's a really interesting crop to consider Abnshrek. Cashews are an odd tree, and I'd love to eat the fruit that grows above the cashew itself. I've heard good things
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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That's a really interesting crop to consider Abnshrek. Cashews are an odd tree, and I'd love to eat the fruit that grows above the cashew itself. I've heard good things
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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That's a really interesting crop to consider Abnshrek. Cashews are an odd tree, and I'd love to eat the fruit that grows above the cashew itself. I've heard good things
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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That's a really interesting crop to consider Abnshrek. Cashews are an odd tree, and I'd love to eat the fruit that grows above the cashew itself. I've heard good things
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:51 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Everyone should have bananas in their yards!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex View Post
It's funny, but not everyone grows bananas in Hawaii. When we had a house on Kauai our gardener discouraged us from planting bananas because he said, they became "ratty". We planted them anyway and had some nice apple bananas for a while - at least until they mysteriously stopped growing and were pulled out.
Likely they got banana bunchy top virus and were pulled out, they were doing it without asking for awhile on Kauai because it was getting so bad. Nowadays, it is so bad there is no organized control effort. In some places here I would say its much easier to grow them on the mainland than in Hawaii due to BBTV. It is pretty much everywhere here on Oahu, so although the climate is good for growing bananas, BBTV makes it extremely difficult.
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