Growing Banana Trees – Banana Fertilizer Management Requirements
Author: Mr. Guy Sela, CEO of SMART! Fertilizer Management software and an international expert in plant nutrition and irrigation.
A good fertilizing management for banana trees starts before the planting, therefore It is best to take a soil test and to plan the optimize nutrition program.
KNOWING WHAT YOUR CROP NEEDS
A Healthy banana planting material, that is looked after carefully, will harvest a high quality bunch within 18 month, and will produce a new bunch every 12 month. During this time, the banana plantation will consume large quantities of Nitrogen and Potassium.
The plantation will do best in soil with a pH of 5.6 – 6.5. With only a moderate salinity resistance, the trees will stop developing when the soluble salts concentration exceeds 500 ppm.
Since Banana roots are shallow, it is important to provide the nutrients in at least 8 different applications year round. That is in order to avoid material of getting washed away.
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BANANA NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS
The average Ton of banana fruit, removes 8Kg of N, 1.5Kg of P, and 25Kg K from the soil. Yet this way of calculating the nutrient requirements is very much inaccurate. It does not describe the total uptake nor takes into account many nutritional considerations. Therefore, this is only one parameter of an organized fertilizer program.
A grower should take notice of other fertilizing complexities. For example, soil temperature. Once the soil temperature is higher than 180C, it is recommended to add urea to the regular ammonium nitrate fertilizing.
The most accurate way to know the exact rates of N:P:K application will be to use leaf analysis along with soil tests.
The desirable elements level of a tissue test is demonstrated in the table below:
|Element level (%)|
|Element level (ppm)|
Table 1. Banana tissue analysis – Leaf Lamina 3, minimum adequate level test results
FERTILIZING BANANA THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
Application of fertilizers and the specific products should be coordinated with the plant cycle around the year. Anyways, the grower should match the application to weather conditions.
The best response to fertilizers occurs when applied during rapid growth periods.
- Spring – the warming conditions the roots activity and the leaf growths. This is the time to meet the plant demands and to let it reach its potential.
- Summer – during this time, the bunch should be allowed to maximize its weight and volume, therefore, all nutrient should be fully available to the plant roots.
- Autumn – the banana ceases to develop. It will need a specific amount nutrient that are relevant in building up plant reserves that will serve the plant in the next years.
- Winter – only a maintenance fertilizer program should be applied. Preferably through foliar application, since roots activity is very low.
THE IMPORTANCE OF POTASSIUM & DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS
Potassium, the “quality nutrient”, has an important role in the photosynthesis process, it regulates both CO2 and water uptake and have a positive effect on the plant resistance to environmental stress.
The fact that potassium plays a major role in starch and protein synthesis makes it the key element in the banana nutrition.
The most common fertilizer used in banana plantations is potassium-nitrate.
This fertilizer helps with cold resistance and contributes the most for fruits filling.
A deficiency potassium will cause:
- Small & Yellow leaves
- Late bunch initiation
- Small number of fruit per bunch
- Reduced sized fruits
In any case of deficiency or imbalanced nutrition plan, the yield level and the fruit quality will be effected. Therefore, creating a balanced fertilizer program must be based on reliable yield estimation and on soil & water & tissue analysis.
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