THE TIMING OF FIRST RATOON SUCKER SELECTION USING TISSUE CULTURE BANANA PLANTS
A randomized block trial was planted to determine the optimim first ratoon (R1) sucker selection stage with tissue culture banana plants. Treatments comprised four different R1 selection times, namely 4, 6, 9 and 11 months after planting, which were applied using the sectoral sucker selection technique. This technique was chosen since it enabled R1 suckers of the same age to be suppressed and then selected at different development stages of the mother plant, leading to homogenous R1 suckers in terms of timing, size and placement on the plantation marching line. Under the prevailing conditions of drought which could have influenced the trial, results show that the stage of R1 selection mainly influenced cycle time rather than bunch mass. A maximum yield increase of 13.3 t/ha/year (22%) with the 4-month selection compared with the 11-month selection was measured in the R1 cycle. However, in the R2 the opposite occurred, with eleven month resulting in 6.1 t ha-1 year-1 (11%) higher yield compared with 4-month selection. Over three crop cycles, investigations showed that stage of R1 sucker selection is relatively unimportant since no significant yield advantages were measured, when selecting the R1 sucker sectorally at either four, six, nine or eleven months after planting. The aim of sucker selection should therefore be to establish a healthy and vigorous R1 sucker that is positioned in the direction of selection and homogenous in size throughout the plantation. The best way to address these aims is by using the sectoral sucker selection method.
Eckstein, K., Fraser, C. and Robinson, J.C. (2000). THE TIMING OF FIRST RATOON SUCKER SELECTION USING TISSUE CULTURE BANANA PLANTS. Acta Hortic. 540, 267-272