Crop Profile for Bananas in Hawaii

Prepared: September, 2000
Revised: June, 2003

 

General Production Information


Production Regions

 

Bananas are grown commercially throughout the state of Hawaii. In 2001, the island of Hawaii had 730 harvested acres. Major growing areas on Hawaii island are Puna, Hilo, and the Hamakua coast. The island of Oahu had 645 harvested acres mostly in Kaneohe, Waimanalo, Kahuku, and Waialua with increasing production in Ewa. Major growing areas on Kauai include Kapaa, Koloa, Kilauea, and Moloaa. On Maui, production is concentrated in Hana, Haiku, and Wailuku. A total of 200 commercial banana farms were in production in Hawaii during 2001 with 62% located on the islands of Hawaii and Oahu (Hawaii Agricultural Statistics Service, 2001).

 

Table 1. Average rainfall in commercial

banana producing areas in Hawaii (NOAA, 2003).

Island

Region

Ave. Annual Rainfall (in.)

Hawaii

Puna

140.0

 

Hilo

126.3

 

Hamakua

150.0

Maui

Hana

80.0

 

Haiku

65.0

 

Wailuku

28.0

Oahu

Waimanalo

42.8

 

Kaneohe

80.0

 

Kahuku

45.0

 

Waialua

29.9

 

Ewa

28.0

Kauai

Koloa

60.0

 

Kapaa

80.0

 

Kilauea, Moloaa

50.0



Cultural Practices

Banana production systems are perennial. The plant is an herb with leaf sheaths that form above the ground in trunk-like pseudostems. Flower development is initiated from the underground true stem portion of the plant 9 – 12 months after planting. The inflorescence grows up through the center of the pseudostem. Fruits mature in 90 – 120 days after flowers first appear, depending on season and cultivar. The plant has 8 – 12 leaves up to 9 feet long and 2 feet wide (Knowledge Master, 2003).

Bananas are propagated exclusively by vegetative means through suckers, corms, or tissue culture. "Seed" pieces are planted at a spacing of 8–15 ft. between rows and 6-7 ft. between plants within a row. Approximately 750 plants per acre (including tractor rows) can be planted in a 2-line system with this spacing (Nelson, in press). Multiple suckers can be produced from 1 banana plant but are maintained at 1 or 2 fruit producing plants for commercial production. Approximately 80% of the banana cultivars grown in Hawaii are from the Cavendish group: Williams, Valery, Chinese, Hamakua, and Grand Nain. The remaining 20% are mostly from the Hawaiian Apple Banana group (Tall Apple and Dwarf Apple) with approximately 1% belonging to the Bluefield group (Bluefield and Dwarf Bluefield).

Bananas are best grown in well-drained soils with pH of 6.0 – 6.5. Because of the fast growing nature of the plant, irrigation and nutrition requirements are high. Windward locations with high rainfall (> 60 in/year) do not use supplemental irrigation (Table 1). Drier locations use drip irrigation to supply a minimum of 1 inch of water per week. Potassium is especially critical to optimum fruit yield and must be applied every 2 to 3 months for sustainable commercial production. The roots of the banana plant are very extensive but shallow and movement of leachable nutrients (N and K) occurs rapidly in high rainfall areas. Mechanical cultivation for weed control can be detrimental to the shallow banana root system. Weed competition from nutrients and moisture are maintained by a combination of ground cover and timely herbicide sprays (Farmers Bookshelf, 2003).

Banana production requires a high amount of hand labor. Field activities which are performed by hand include planting, sucker thinning, harvest, weeding, and insect and disease control when applied by back pack sprayers.

 

Insect Pests

Anthurium thrips, Chaetanaphothrips orchidii

Banana rind thrips, Elixothrips brevisetis
Banana rust thrips, Chaetanaphothrips signipennis
Banded greenhouse thrips, Hercinothrips femoralis
Hawaiian flower thrips, Thrips hawaiiensis

Thrips are common insect pests in commercial banana production. Their piercing (rasping)-sucking mouthparts damage flowers, fruit, leaves and stems. Several different species feed on bananas.

Anthurium thrips have been reported as a synonymous species of Banana rust thrips (Morton, 1987). The banana rust thrips was first collected in Hilo in 1996. The nature of the damage caused by this pest varies: banana rust thrips feed on the pseudostem and fruit. Thrips feeding on leaf sheaths results in dark, v-shaped marks on the outer surfaces of leaf petioles. Fruit damage is characterized by a water-soaked appearance. Damaged tissue turns bronzed or rust colored with age. Many young fruits exhibit dark or smoky serpentine feeding tracks on their surfaces. Characteristic oval shaped reddish "stains" have been observed on mature fruit where fingers touched. The majority of the damage detected is the result of larval feeding (Knowledge Master; Mau, 1998).

The banana rind thrips feeds on leaves, flowers, or stems with the injured tissue taking on a silvery appearance which eventually turns dark brown. Feeding on leaf tips results in wilting and curling. The undersides of leaves are spotted with small black fecal specks. Flowers become flecked, spotted, and deformed and many buds fail to open (Knowledge Master).

The banded greenhouse thrips causes silver and bronze scars which may result in damage of economic importance (Zimmerman, 1948). The silvering usually occurs with small infestations. When large infestations occur, or when thrips damage is aggravated by the red spider mite and other factors, the banana fruit turns a peculiar reddish color which lowers the market value of the fruit even though the edibility of the fruit is not effected (Bianchi, 1946).

The Hawaiian flower thrips is a widespread species in tropical and temperate climates and is present on all of the major Hawaiian Islands except Lanai. It feeds only on flowers (Takahashi 1936). Depending on the extent of feeding, flowers become flecked, spotted, or deformed. Unlike other flower thrips, this species prefers wet and shady areas (Sakimura and Krauss, 1944).


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:

An anthocorid bug, Orius tristicolor, is a generalist thrips predator like other species belonging to the Orius genus (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). In Hawaii, there are two additional species of anthocorid bugs, Orius persequens and Orius insidiosus. The economic value of these bugs as thrips biocontrol agents is unknown.

To avoid additional losses and insect damage, the majority of the bananas produced in Hawaii are covered with a polyethylene bag prior to harvest. The bags provide a physical barrier to insect infestations.


Banana Aphid
Pentalonia nigronervosa

The banana aphid is a serious problem on banana because it is a vector of Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV), the most damaging virus disease of bananas in Hawaii. Aphid colonies may be found in the crown of the plant, at the base of the pseudostems, or between outer leaf sheaths. Young suckers are typically the most heavily infested (Knowledge Master). Feeding causes plants to become deformed; the leaves become curled and shriveled and in extreme infestations galls can form on leaves. Direct damage from feeding is generally negligible.


Control

Chemical Control:

 

Alternative Chemical Controls:

Non-chemical Control:


Banana Moth
Opogona sacchari (Bojer)
(also called Opogona subcervinella (Walker)

The banana moth lays its eggs on senescing flowers, decaying leaves, pseudostems or fruit. The larvae feed on detritus and decaying plant material though they are often found feeding on healthy tissue at the interface with decaying plant parts. The removal of flowers and application of insecticides to banana bunches at the time of fruit bagging greatly reduces larval damage.


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Banana Fruit Piercing Moth
Othreis fullonia

The fruit-piercing moth is a serious pest in localized areas. Unlike most moth and butterfly pests, the caterpillar stage does not severely damage plant foliage. Instead, the adult moth punctures and feeds on ripening fruit and creates opportunities for fungal and bacterial infections. High moth populations may result in premature ripening and fruit drop. The fruit piercing moth will continue to be a pest of home grown bananas which are tree ripened. In most commercial areas, natural enemies of the banana fruit piercing moth keep populations below economic threshold levels (Knowledge Master; Mau, 1985).


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Banana Skipper
Pelopidas thrax (Erionata thrax)

Rolled leaves originating from the midrib of plants are a good indicator of banana skipper damage. Since 1973, six parasites have been identified and continue to minimize damage caused by this pest (HDOA). Because of the effectiveness of biological control of the banana skipper, use of chemical treatments is uncommon (Knowledge Master).


Control

Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Banana Root Borer
Banana Weevil
, Cosmopolites sordidus

The banana root borer is a continuing problem for commercial and home growers. The larvae of this pest bore through the corm, suckers and roots of living and decaying planting material. Planting infested rhizomes increases the damage caused by this insect (Nelson, in press). Large numbers of larvae and extensive feeding can result in root destruction, slowed plant growth, reduced fruit production, and, sometimes, toppled plants. The tunneling can kill young plants (Nelson, in press). The adult weevil feeds and breeds at night.


Control

Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Big-headed Ant
Pheidole megacephala

Ants are very common in banana fields and virtually impossible to control. The problem posed by ants is their intimate relationship with the banana aphids. Ants feed on the honeydew secreted by the banana aphids and protect the aphids from their natural enemies. This results in larger aphid populations and increases the probability of disease spread by the aphids (e.g., banana bunchy top virus) (Nelson, in press).


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Chinese Rose Beetle
Adoretus sinicus

The Chinese rose beetle is a common pest on all major banana-producing islands in Hawaii. All the damage is caused by the feeding of the adult beetle. The beetle is nocturnal and feeds primarily on leaf and inter-veinal tissue and is commonly found attacking younger plants.


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Coconut Scale
Aspidiotus destructor

The coconut scale is an armored scale and is usually found on the underside of leaves but can also attach themselves to petioles, peduncles and fruits. When attached to fruits, they become a significant quarantine problem for banana exports (Nelson, in press). Their piercing and sucking mouthparts extract plant juices, leading to discoloration and yellowing of plant tissue.


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Long-legged Ant
Anoplolepis longipes

Ants are very common in banana fields and virtually impossible to control. The long-legged ant has been recently reported as pest on bananas. In addition to moving aphids around within a planting (thus contributing to the spread of BBTV) the long-legged ant inadvertently damages the surface of the banana fruit by releasing a toxic chemical when threatened, causing dry necrotic lesions on surface of the fruit and reducing marketability. Long-legged ants are found on all islands and prefer wet, high rainfall areas. These ants are sugar lovers and are not controlled by the same bait products used for big-headed ant control.


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:


Spiraling Whitefly
Aleurodicus disperses

Whiteflies are sap-sucking insects that damage and discolor plant leaves and tissue. Similar to aphids and mealybugs, whiteflies excrete honeydew that may lead to black sooty mold. Ants feed on this honeydew and protect the whiteflies from natural predators. In 1979, the spiraling whitefly was considered a serious economic pest. Since then, five natural enemies have been introduced from the Caribbean to control this pest. By July 1981, the spiraling whitefly was considered under control and is not considered a principal threat to banana production in Hawaii.


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Sugarcane Budmoth Caterpillar
Decadarchis flavistriata

The sugarcane budmoth caterpillar is a localized pest in Hawaii. This caterpillar feeds on decaying flowers and causes fruit scarring. Many growers have adopted the practice of removing all flowers prior to bagging to reduce sugarcane budmoth damage. At present, the sugarcane budmoth caterpillar is not considered a serious pest problem in Hawaii, but damage may be controlled using Bacillus thuringiensis applied to bunches prior to bagging (Nelson, in press).


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Mite Pests

Although frequently found on foliage and fruit, mites are usually minor pests of banana in Hawaii. However, potential damage from these pests is significant. The piercing and sucking mouthparts of mites damage plant tissue and fruit. Recently, there has been an increase in damage caused by mites (Nelson, in press)..


Control

Chemical Control:

Alternative Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:



Weeds

Weed control is needed in new plantings to ensure rapid growth and establishment of plant material. Grassy weeds in particular have been reported to reduce yields (Chia and Nishimoto, 1986). Weed management is an important component in banana production. Since banana plants are surface feeders, heavy weed infestations rob them of nutrients. Weeds not only compete with the crop for food, water, nutrients and sunlight, they also provide shelter for insects and host diseases. Weeds can be managed through cultural and chemical means.

Control

Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:



Diseases

Banana Bunchy Top Virus

The banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) is a very serious problem for banana growers statewide. This virus has caused the demise of some farms and has forced many others to replace their existing banana variety with a less susceptible variety (‘apple’ rather than Cavendish) (Nelson, in press). The most conspicuous symptom of the disease is the "stacked up" up bunched/rosette appearance of the upper leaves (Nelson, in press). Other common symptoms of BBTV include ‘morse code’ streaking on leaves (dot/dash patterns on the lower midrib and leaf blade), distorted fruit, erect and narrow leaves, marginal chlorosis/necrosis. The banana aphid, Pentalonia nigronervosa, is the sole vector of this disease. Adoption of recommended banana aphid management practices is strongly urged. Eradication of BBTV is difficult and the likelihood of finding a cure is slim. Prevention is the key to management of this disease. Planting infected material and failing to destroy diseased plants contributes to the spread and transmission of BBTV. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture continues to educate growers and strives to control the spread of this serious disease by roguing infecting bananas (Ferreira, 1989; Matayoshi, 1993; Ferreira, et al., 1997).

Control

Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:

Growers are encouraged to implement a number of cultural practices to slow or prevent the spread of this disease.


Banana Mosaic Virus

Banana mosaic virus (BMV), also known as cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), affects banana production around the world. Common symptoms of BMV are chlorosis of leaves, mosaic symptoms, and heart rot. Proper selection of virus free planting material is an effective method of preventing BMV contamination.


Black Leaf Streak
Mycosphaerella fijiensis

This fungal disease is very destructive and is one of the greatest costs faced by banana growers in high-rainfall areas (Nelson, in press). It favors warm, wet and humid environments. There are two fungal spores associated with this disease: conidia (asexual) and ascospores (sexual). These spores are transported by wind currents to new plant hosts. The fungal pathogens penetrate the leaf tissue and create necrotic lesions, also known as streaks. This streaking effect gives the disease its name. The use of disease-free varieties, weather monitoring programs and preventative control strategies are encouraged (Nelson, 1994).

Control

Chemical Control:

Environmental conditions and site location cause variations in the number of acres treated per year. The island of Hawaii is the primary user of fungicides due to the high level of rainfall annually.

Non-chemical Control:


Crown Rot Complex
Botryodiplodia theobromae, Cephalosporium sp., Ceratocystisparadoxa, Colletotrichum musae, Fusarium roseum, Verticillium theobromae

Crown rot is a serious post-harvest disease problem of bananas. Several fungal pathogens are involved in this process. Infection occurs after the hands are cut from the main banana bunch and the disease organisms enter through the wounded tissue. Symptoms first appear on the stalk end of the banana fruit fingers. Uneven dark discoloration spreads rapidly to fruit skin and pulp, which is reduced to a brown soft rot. Because of the variety of causal organisms rotting can also occur at the fruit tip and is also associated with fruit spots and blemishes. The disease complex is promoted by high humidity (>85%) (Feakin, 1972).

Control

Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:


Freckle
Phyllosticta musarum

Freckle is a fungal disease of bananas that affects fruit quality and appearance. This disease is not a serious concern, except in a few localized areas (Farmers Bookshelf). It is easily controlled with fungicides registered for control of black leaf streak.


Panama Wilt
Fusarium oxysporum

This is one of the most devastating diseases for bananas worldwide. Symptoms include internal stem necrosis (reddish-brown), root and rhizome rot, yellow leaves, plant wilting and plant death. Plants may die during flowering or during periods of moisture stress. The pathogen may survive almost indefinitely in soils and infects plants through the root system. The fungus then penetrates into the vascular system of the pseudostem, causing necrosis and blocking transport of water. Although the disease exists in Hawaii, not all races of the pathogen are known to exist in Hawaii. Due to the planting of disease-resistant varieties, the importance of this disease in Hawaii has decreased (Nelson, in press). Disease prevention should include the selection of resistant cultivars, field sanitation and moisture monitoring practices.

Control

Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:



Nematodes

Rootknot, Meloidogyne spp.
Burrowing, Radopholus similis
Reniform,
Rotylenchulus reniformis

Of the eight different nematode genera reported on bananas in Hawaii, three (rootknot, burrowing, and reniform) are economically important to commercial production statewide. Nematodes are a major concern for growers especially on the island of Hawaii. These roundworms attack the root system of plants and impair water and nutrient uptake. Fields not properly managed for nematodes can result in lower yields and higher crop losses (Sipes, 1993). Sometimes, heavily infested fields must be abandoned. Common symptoms of severe nematode infection include stunting, poor plant growth, narrow and weak stems, foliar chlorosis, root rotting and galling, and plant toppling (Nelson, in press).

Control

Chemical Control:

Non-chemical Control:



Contacts

Profile drafted by:

Bari S. Sugano
Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
University of Hawaii-Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
(808) 956-4720

Ron F. L. Mau
Extension Entomology Specialist
Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
University of Hawaii-Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
(808) 956-7063


Revised and Updated by:

John J. McHugh, Jr.
Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
University of Hawaii-Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96822
(808) 956-2004

Lynne Constantinides
Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
University of Hawaii-Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96822
(808) 956-2004

Cathy Tartutani-Weissman
Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
University of Hawaii-Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96822
(808) 956-2004


Reviewed and Approved by:

Michael Kawate
Extension Pesticide Registration Specialist
Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
University of Hawaii-Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
(808) 956-6008



References

  1. Bianchi. 1946. Notes and exhibitions: Hercinothrips femoralis (Reuter). Proc. Hawaiian Entomol. Soc. 12(3): 481.
  2. Chia, C. L. 1981. Bananas. Commodity Fact Sheet BA-3(A) Fruit. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii-Manoa.
  3. Chia, C. L. and R. K. Nishimoto. 1986. Chemical Weed Control in Banana. HITAHR Brief 056. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii-Manoa. 4 pp.
  4. Chun, Scott (President, Oahu Banana Growers Association) personal communication.
  5. College of Tropical Agricultural and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa. 2001. CTHAR Cost of Production Spreadsheets. http://www2.ctahr.hawaii.edu/ctahr2001/PIO/CoP_spreadsheets.html
  6. Farmers Bookshelf. 2003. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa. An Information System of Crops in Hawaii. http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/fb/
  7. Feakin, S. D. 1972. Pest Control in Bananas. PANS Manual No. 1. Centre for Overseas Pest Research, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Overseas Development Administration, London.
  8. Ferreira, S. 1989. Bunchy Top Disease. Proceedings from the 21st Annual Hawaii Banana Industry Association Conference.
  9. Ferreira, S., E. E. Trujillo and D. Ogata. 1997. Banana Bunchy Top Virus. Plant Disease 12, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii-Manoa. 4 pp.
  10. Gettman, A. 1984. Control of the Banana Root Borer in Banana Planting Stock. Proceedings from the 16th Annual Hawaii Banana Industry Association Conference.
  11. Ha, R. (Richard Ha, President of Hawaii Banana Growers Association) personal communication.
  12. Hara, A. 1997. Hot Water Treatment Project Proposal. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii-Manoa, Department of Entomology.
  13. Hawaii Agricultural Statistics Service. 2001. http://www.nass.usda.gov/hi/fruit/annban.htm
  14. HDOA, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Plant Pest Control, Biological Control Successes in Hawaii http://www.hawaiiag.org/hdoa/pi_ppc_biosucc.htm
  15. Knowledge Master. 2003. University of Hawaii, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii-Manoa. Computer Resource Database. http://www.extento.hawaii.edu/kbase/crop/crops/banana.htm
  16. Matayoshi, N. 1993. The Banana Bunchy Top Program on Oahu. Proceedings from the 25th Annual Hawaii Banana Industry Association Conference.
  17. Mau, R. F. L. 1985. The Fruit Piercing Moth: A New Pest of Fruits in Hawaii. Proceedings from the 17th Annual Hawaii Banana Industry Association Conference.
  18. Mau, R. F. L. 1998. Presentation to Oahu Banana Growers Association meeting.
  19. Muruvanda, D. A. 1986. Notes and Exhibitions. Proc. Hawaiian Entomol. Soc. 27:8.
  20. Morton, J. 1987. Banana p. 29-46. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, Fl. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/banana.html#Pests
  21. National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2002. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/nassr/fruit/pnf-bb/ncit0103.txt
  22. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2003. http://www.prh.noaa.gov./pr/hnl/pages/hydrology.html
  23. Nelson, S. Growing Bananas in Hawaii, In Press.
  24. Nelson, S. 1994. Epidemiology of Black Leaf Streak. Proceedings from the 26th Annual Hawaii Banana Industry Association Conference.
  25. Nelson, S. 1998. Banana Integrated Pest Management Guidelines for 1998 Growing Season. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii-Manoa.
  26. Sakimura, K. and N.L.H. Krauss. 1944. Thrips from Maui and Molokai. Proc. Hawaiian Entomol. Soc. 12(1): 113-122.
  27. Sipes, B. 1993. Controlling Nematodes in Bananas. Proceedings from the 16th Annual Hawaii Banana Industry Association Conference.
  28. Takahashi, R. 1936. Thysanoptera of Formosa. Philippine J. Science. 60: 427-458.
  29. Trujillo, E. E. 1964. Clean Banana Rhizomes Certification. Hawaii Farm Science 13(4):8-9.
  30. Waterhouse, D. F. and K. R. Norris. 1989. Chapter 4 Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande). pp. 24-35. In: Biological Control Pacific Prospects - Supplement 1. Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research: Canberra. 123 pages.
  31. Zimmerman, E.C. 1948. Hercinothrips femoralis (Reuter). pp. 398. In: Insects of Hawaii. A Manual of the Insects of the Hawaiian Islands, including Enumeration of the Species and notes on the Origin, Distribution, Hosts, Parasites, etc. volume. 2: Apterygota to Thysanoptera. The University Press of Hawaii, Honolulu. 475 pages.