Submitted to: Journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/17/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A Interpretive Summary: In Puerto Rico, plantain is the second most economically important crop after coffee. The annual farm-gate value for plantains is $43.7 million, and over 2,500 growers make their livelihood growing the crop in the mountain region. During the last 10 years the farm-gate price has not been able to keep pace with the increase cost of production. There is a major concern among growers that if this gap continues widening, the price at th consumer level will eventually increase unless the cost of production is reduced or researchers come up with higher yielding clones. In an attempt to increase yield, we conducted bunch management studies with the French-dwarf Superplatano clone. The bunch, which produces 8 to 9 hands with 120 o 135 non-marketable fruits was subjected to various treatments at three locations. Pruning of the lower hands increased individual fruit size and weight at the expense of reducing bunch size. The French-dwarf Superplatano bunch pruned to the four uppermost hands yielded 66 marketabl fruits which weighed 21.9 kg. This yield was 31% higher than the yield of the local horn-type Maricongo clone. Fruit traits conformed with the marketing standards established for the Maricongo plantain. With proper bunch management, the high yielding French-dwarf Superplatano clone is a viable alternative to offset the increased cost of production that otherwise will be passed on to consumers.
Technical Abstract: The French-dwarf Superplatano (Musa AAB), a reverted clone selected from the local horn-type Common Dwarf plantain, was subjected to various bunch management treatments at three locations. The immature bunches were pruned to either three, four or five uppermost hands. Those pruned to four and five hands were either sprayed with a gibberellic acid solution or not sprayed. Both sprayed and unsprayed bunches were immediately bagged or left unbagged. Hormone spraying and bagging, alone or combined, did not have a significant effect on bunch yield components and fruit traits. Regardless of the location, pruning significantly reduced bunch size and the time needed for fruit filling. Bunches pruned to five, four and three hands averaged 79, 66 and 50 fruits, respectively. Pruning also affected bunch yield and bunch mean fruit weight but the effect depended on the location. A reduction in bunch size from five to four hands at Corozal and from four to three hands at Salinas and Yauco substantially reduced bunch yield by 12 and 23%, respectively. Bunch mean fruit weight significantly increased at the expense of reducing bunch size to three hands at Corozal and to four hands at Salinas and Yauco. Regardless of the location pruning significantly increased fruit size in the distal hand. The thickest and largest fruits were produced in bunches pruned to three hands. Likewise, pruning significantly increased mean fruit weight in the distal hand but the effect depended on the location. Fruits in the distal hand of bunches pruned to three hands at Corozal attained the heaviest mean weight, 355 g. Regardless of the location, a reduction in hands from five to four upgraded fruits in the distal hand from non-marketable to marketable by increasing their weight to over 270 g.