Guide for Saba (Cardaba) Banana Production Part 2

Cultural Management

Fertilizer Application

Fertilizer application is required to produce optimum yield. Apply fertilizer based on the result of the soil analysis, crop removal, and target yield. Generally, high nitrogen and potassium fertilizer is necessary. Nitrogen and potassium is required during the early stage of growth until bud formation and another application of potassium from bud formation up to harvesting. Fertilizer can be applied in fractional doses at least 4 times in a year. Ensure that the soil must be moist when fertilizer is applied.

Irrigation and Drainage

Irrigation water is applied whenever the amount of rainfall falls below 10 cm per month. Inadequate moisture in the soil leads to slower growth rate, smaller bunches and fingers. Irrigation water can be applied through furrow irrigation, overhead sprinklers, and drip irrigation.

Drainage is important to prevent water logging. The drainage system may consist of the main canal, series of secondary and tertiary canals depending on the type of farm, extent of rainfall, topography, soil texture and management. They are important in waterlogged areas.

They should also be regularly maintained by removing debris and deposited sediments. Grasses should be removed to prevent rats from inhabiting.

Stem and Mat Sanitation

Sanitation is done to eliminate the habitat of some insect pests. In cleaning the banana plant, cut dried stalk and leaves. File them in between plots or around the mat 30-60 cm from the base of the plant. Maintain cleanliness around the plantation and do this regularly every 45 to 60 days.

Desuckering or Sucker Pruning

This should be done to maintain the desired population and minimize competition for sunlight, water and nutrients among the plants in a mat or hill. The number of suckers allowed in a mat ranges from 1-3 or depends on the scheme followed by the grower. The factors to be considered in sucker control are time, sucker selection and sucker setting or sequencing. Followers less than 1 meter tall, unwanted peepers, water and floating suckers should also be removed. Unwanted suckers are removed by cutting the pseudostem as close to the ground as possible and the growing point is remove to prevent growth. Desuckering is done once a month.

Leaf Pruning

The primary purpose of this activity is to reduce the amount of inoculum of leaf diseases and minimize the chance of burning. The dry/diseased leaves are cut once a month. For leaves with less than 50% affected, trimming of infected parts should be done.

Weeding and Cultivation

Saba bananas like any other crops need clean culture. It needs little or zero cultivation because of its shallow root system. To control weeds, mechanical and chemical control are recommended. Mechanical weeding can be done through slashing and ring weeding. Slashing is practically done on newly established plantations while ring weeding is usually done by removing the weeds within a radius of 0.75 m to 1.0 m from the base of the plant three weeks after planting and before fertilizer application. Mulching with the use of rice hulls is also an alternative weed control method.

Fruit Care

Fruit obstacle removal is done by removing the leaves that touches the fruit. Removal of the male bud after the last hand has appeared is being done to channel food produced by the plant to the developing fruit. This leads to increased size of the fingers in the bunch.


Depending on the distance where the banana is to be marketed, they should be harvested green at varying stages of maturity.

Saba bananas for local or nearby market should be harvested a few days before it ripens. Fruits transported to distant places must be picked less mature with plainly visible edges.

The angularity or fullness of the fingers is the standard maturity index of banana. They are classified as three quarters, full three quarters or full stages. Three quarter fruits are those with clearly visible angle about ½ of their maximum size. Full three quarter fruits have less prominent angles while full stage fruits have virtually disappearing angles.

Saba banana is usually harvested at 150 to 180 days after shooting. The pseudostem should be cut back at a height of 1.5 m after the bunch is removed.

Steps in harvesting

  1. Removed first the leaves to avoid destroying standing plants in the surroundings.
  2. At least two persons will do the harvesting. One will topple the pseudostem and one will carry the bunch.
  3. Leave at least 2 m high pseudostem and cut surface should be covered with dried leaf sheath or plastic to prevent early decomposition. This will serve reservoir for water and nutrients.
  4. Do not expose the harvested bunch to sunlight.
  5. Bring the harvested bunch in a shaded area.
  6. Spray the bunch with water especially during dry period (pre-cooling).

Common Insect Pests, Diseases, and their Control

Common Pests
Common Diseases
1. Fruit scarring beetles 1. Panama disease or Fusarium Wilt
2. Banana thrips 2. Moko or bacterial wilt
3. Mealy bug 3. Sigatoka
4. Banana aphids 4. Black leaf streak (BLS)
5. Corm weevil 5. Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTV)

Control Measures

  1. Field and mat sanitation, leaf pruning for light penetration, and reduction of dampness.
  2. Chemical treatment (use fungicides and insecticides)
  3. Eradicate/remove infected plant.

Do you know that you can earn dollars selling banana leaves?

The Alcantara Group (, the country’s biggest bangus exporter, is shipping 12 tons of frozen banana leaves a month to one buyer who will now need 20 tons monthly. One family could take care of 50 to 100 banana plants. From 50 plants in the backyard, the owner can harvest around P400 worth of leave a month. With 100, that’s P800 a month.

Banana plant can yield 16 leaves within its productive life. It can also produce one banana blossom which can also be sold. No fruits, however, can be expected to grow to maturity. The grower usually gets P3 for each leaf bought by the Alcantara Group. In the US it is said to retail at 70 to 89 cents per pound. With the increasing global clamor for biodegradable materials for packing and wrapping food products, it is expected that the demand for banana leaves will grow. –

source: Dr. Biley E. Temanel,


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