A banana bunch covered by a blue polythene bag. bagging the fruits increases maturity speed. PHOTO BY PROMUSA
Farmers, who cover banana bunches with perforated polythene bags, may quicken the maturity of the fruit by up to two weeks due to the conducive micro-climate that is created.
Polythene covers speed up the maturity time by between five days, according to ProMusa, an online banana research repository.
The cover, which runs from the first hand to the tip, creates a micro-climate of high temperatures of an average of 0.5 degrees Celsius per 24 hours. On warmer days the ‘greenhouse’ effect micro-climate can reach 7 degrees Celsius.
Depending on the variety and the environmental conditions, bananas take between three and four months from flowering to maturity.
Besides reducing effects of frost, the cover also leads to increased bunch weight due to optimum photosynthesis and reduced pests attack.
The cover is placed from the base of the bunch and tied at the top, right at the scar of the first bract. Early bagging helps in preventing thrips from attacking the banana.
The polythene bags are perforated at about 76mm interval with hole of 12.7mm. Micro-perforations are also done after about 10mm.
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In Central Kenya, a few farmers are adopting the method by improvisation using the common yellow polythene bags for shopping. The inner linings of synthetic fertiliser bags can also work in covering the banana hands individually or as a whole bunch.
The research says thick bags increase and maintain temperatures faster and for long.
Transparent covers allow in more than 90 per cent of the light required to photosynthesis while 73 per cent of the energy required in the food making process is at 73.
Organic farmers around the world using this method to quicken maturity of the bananas impregnate the equipment with garlic and pepper solution to reduce thrips attack.