Growing Banana Trees – Banana Fertilizer Software Requirements
A good fertilizing management scheme for banana trees starts before the planting begins; therefore it is important to take a soil test and to plan the optimized nutrition program in advance.
KNOWING WHAT YOUR CROP NEEDS
A healthy banana planting material, that is looked after carefully, will harvest a high quality bunch within 18 months and subsequently produce a new bunch every 12 months. 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 done in order to avoid materials getting washed away.
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 extremely inaccurate – it does not describe the total uptake or take into account many other 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.
When you upload your soil test to SMART FERTILIZER our software gives you an instant evaluation of your soil specifications and of the eventual deficiencies. The deficiencies could be of macroelements such as NPK, but also could be of microlements. This soil test upload is very helpful in understanding the nutritional status of your crop, and therefore in creating the perfect fertilization plan.
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
The application of fertilizers and other specific products should be coordinated with the plant cycle all year round. The grower should match the application to the weather conditions.
The best response to fertilizers occurs when they are applied during rapid growth periods.
- Spring – the warming conditions stimulate root activity and leaf growth. This is the time to meet the plant demands and to optimize their potential.
- Summer – during this season the bunch should be allowed to maximize its weight and volume, therefore all nutrients should be made fully available to the plant roots.
- Autumn – the banana ceases to develop. It will need a specific amount of nutrients that are relevant in building up plant reserves that will serve the plant over the next few 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 has 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 bananas nutrition.
The most common fertilizer used in banana plantations is potassium-nitrate.
This fertilizer helps with resistance to cold and contributes the most to fruit yield.
A deficiency in 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 affected. Therefore, creating a balanced fertilizer program must be based on reliable yield estimations and on soil & water & tissue analysis.