The frequency and effects of weather events on banana productivity - results of a global survey

G. Calberto, D. Blake, C. Staver, M. Carvajal, D. Brown
Although bananas prefer warm, moist conditions for year-round production, they are cultivated with locally adapted practices in a wide variety of climates providing income, food and dietary diversity to millions of tropical and subtropical households. This wide range of cultivation zones suggests that bananas will thrive even under higher temperatures associated with climate change. Unfortunately, the predicted increasing temperature due to climate change is also projected to increase the frequency of weather events which are moderate or extreme deviations from average - more droughts, more intense, less frequent rains, cold snaps, heat waves and more violent storms. Such events have serious implications for banana productivity and profitability. We hypothesized that practices in use to address current weather variability can provide insight into building more robust practices to address future variability. We conducted an on-line survey through four regional banana networks to identify the weather events of greatest concern to the banana sector. Globally 137 banana experts completed the survey. The most frequently mentioned events were delay in the start of rainy season, extended dry periods during rainy season and strong winds, which were found in 15 different agroclimatic regions. Cool temperature events were found only in subtropical regions, while prolonged rains and oversaturated soils were concentrated in wetter zones. In a second round, experts quantified the duration and intensity of events, and identified grower practices for mitigating or promoting rapid recovery from the impacts of the events. The response rate in the second round was lower and respondents highlighted difficulties in the quantification of events. This is a key step to link up growers across diverse production zones with common weather challenges to share successful practices. We envision a denser network of weather stations, the analysis of historical and current weather data to track the frequency of problematic events and grower collaboration across sites to innovate more effective banana management practices.
Calberto, G., Blake, D., Staver, C., Carvajal, M. and Brown, D. (2018). The frequency and effects of weather events on banana productivity - results of a global survey. Acta Hortic. 1196, 179-186
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1196.22
climate variability, extreme weather events, adaptation practices, mitigating practices, agroecosystem system resilience

Acta Horticulturae