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Cultivation of Banana - Pests and Diseases

Session by Shri Suresh on 4th March 2018

Banana pests and diseases
First, let us understand some things before jumping in to discuss pests and diseases of banana.

Healthy soil leads to a healthy plant, thereby fewer chances of pest n disease attack on the healthy plant.

But in natural farming, it takes some time of around 3 years for the soil to build fertility and thereby resistance. So initially we may face some issues in pests n diseases, but in long run, all will be set right.

Addition of Neem cake, castor cake and trichoderma viridae or combination of Beejamrutam. 5kg cowdung, 5 L cow urine, water 20 L, lime 50g at the time of planting is very important.

Though many pests n diseases attack banana, we will look in to some prominent ones today. More than insects, diseases are more in banana .. With simple explanation it is difficult to imagine diseases. So posting symptoms pictures for easy understanding...

Sigatoka leaf spot is a common one.

This is more in the rainy season, as the disease spreads in moist, humid conditions. proper drainage in fields is important to avoid this disease

There are 2 types of Sigatoka.

If the fruit is nearing maturity at the time of heavy infection, the flesh ripens un-evenly and individual bananas appear undersized and their flesh develops a buff pinkish colour, and store poorly.

Next one is Panama wilt.

Plant wilts, slowly. leaves become yellowish, turn dry. Leaves also hang out from stem.
In severe cases, the main stem near base will split open.
stem split in banana wilt.
Another one is stem rot at the base of s the em near soil surface.
Foul smell, black colour ooze from plant base are indicators. Seen in younger plants, plants die slowly.Observed this rot, when temperatures are high.This rot is caused by bacteria.

Preventive measures
Initially, no one used to spray, but as time progressed, by looking at other farmers, everyone started to spray chemicals. To avoid all of the above diseases 

  • Collect disease free suckers from healthy plants/gardens.
  • Treat suckers before planting in JA / ash, ash improves resistance power in plants.
  • Maintain proper spacing.
  • Follow irrigation schedules correctly.
  • A field should have proper drainage facilities. raised beds are preferred for this.
  • As and when you notice disease spots, spraying of sour buttermilk helps to stop the disease spread.
  • Spray first on the leaves. after this ash can be smeared on suckers, shade dried and planted.
Aphids on leaves

This is rhizome weevil. larva. It attacks corms(underground portion of the plant). Plant wilts and gradually dies

Root grubs also attack in sandy soils.also looks like this.. if we cut the corms, clearly see the tunnels made by cater pillars. Mainly seen in Kerala n Tamil Nadu.
another important one is stem borer or weevil. Can see small holes on the stem, oozing coming out of holes. If we split open stem can see white larva with a red head. Entire plant will wilt n die as a result of this attack.
black ooze from holes on stem..
larva inside stem.

Members need not worry by looking at these pictures. Pest infestation is very less. Can be seen on some plants only. Majority of the natural farmers don’t spray at all. They remove and destroy the infected plant parts is the easy way to control.


Is it starting of sigatoka? 
Yes, look at left side prominent spot.

What is good spacing between plants and rows?
The wider the better. The point here is plant should get maximum sunlight and air movement. For around 1000 plant per acre, 2 x 2 mts is good. You can grow intercrops also conveniently with this spacing. Capturing max sunlight contributes to bunch weight ... I learnt that in case of banana each Sq. Feet of leaf surface in one day contribute to 2.5 g weight to the bunch.

Which ash to use cow dung ash or wood ash?
Use cow dung ash only as it contains microorganisms to protect. I don’t suggest spraying wood ash even on plant leaves in other crops also. It has pointed ends, which damage the leaf surface, covers leaf area n stops photo synthesis

What are treatment measures?
As I said earlier use buttermilk spray. The LAB works best against diseases and viruses as well have to use immediately after preparation. spray at least twice on n when you notice disease spread.

How does ZBNF use Astras(decoction
) for insects?
Spraying gobaanam (sour buttermilk) on following day of rain will be useful to prevent diseases. 

Observe wind flow and fumigate. Fumigation with cow-dung cakes also useful. Be careful to avoid fire.

What are Important precaution while spraying any kashayams(decoction
) or growth promoter on crops.

  • Don't spray on cloudy days. Immediate rain after spraying wash away the kashayam(decoction). It needs min 4-5 hrs to be absorbed into plants.
  • Don’t spray against the wind, go with the wind.
  • Preferably spray during evening hours, when bee activity is low.
  • The hot sun can also spoil the solutions.
  • Wear a head mask if you are spraying pungent/spicy kashayams(decoction) like chilly, garlic etc..

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