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.