Monday, December 28, 2015

Banana Basics

The banana plant is actually a perennial herb. The fruit is harvested 11-15 months after planting. Individual bananas turn light green to yellow and angular corners become rounded.

Bananas require a well-drained soil, with a pH range of 5.5 - 6.5. They also need rainfall of 100 inches or more, well distributed throughout the year along with full sun, wind protection and an average temperature of 81degrees Fahrenheit.  

In general, banana plants need a fertilizer with high amounts of potassium (K), along with nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Around the Hawaiian Islands, soils vary, some being richer than others. The University of Hawai`i recommends applying 2 lbs. of a fertilizer similar to 10-5-20 (N-P-K) three times a year . This amount is applied per mat. When referring to bananas, a group of plants is known as a mat. A properly maintained mat will have one plant in fruit, one plant half-grown and one plant just emerging from the soil. Applying compost to the surface of the banana mat is beneficial, but most likely will not supply enough nutrients, especially nitrogen, for optimum growth. 

Green bananas can be stored up to seven days at room temperature or up to 20 days under refrigeration. Neither green nor ripe bananas, however, should be stored at temperatures lower than 58 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cooler temperatures will cause surface damage. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Orange Trees with Vigorous Shoots

My neighbor recently asked this question:
"I have an older orange tree in my front yard. One of the branches is very vigorous, has large thorns on it, and the fruit is very sour.  Why is this branch different from the rest of the tree?" 

This is a fairly common problem in oranges and other sweet citrus fruit. The vigorous shoot, or branch, originates from the rootstock, that is, below the original graft or budunion. This branch, therefore, is not genetically part of the grafted orange variety. 

Rootstocks are chosen because they possess resistance to disease or some other cultural quality desired by the grower. The fruit borne from the rootstock, although a citrus species, is often sour, bitter and with little juice. Occasionally a bud will break from the rootstock, develop into a branch and grow up through the tree. Eventually this branch can set fruit, but as noted, usually of inferior quality. These sprouts or branches should be cut out. Since they are usually more vigorous than the grafted portion of the tree, they could eventually dominate the entire tree if not removed.