Washington: Contrary to the perception that temperature is the key variable in banana ripening, a research has found that the fruit actually favours long days.
Seasonal variation in banana production is an issue for growers worldwide and has driven research focused on what influences its rate of development. But, now an international
team, led by the University of Western Australia, has found that bananas are photoperiod responsive.
In fact, longer photoperiods -- the time from sunrise to sunset -- during the reproductive phase, are correlated with an increased rate of bunch appearance at the top of pseudostem
some eight to 10 weeks later, say researchers.
Long photoperiods during the mid-vegetative stage hasten flowering, and the two to three months before formation of the bunch are most important for photoperiod. This information is expected to help growers develop better planting timetables to ensure consistent fruit production.
The researchers collated data from four major projects from around the world to come to the conclusion. Data from Puerto Rico, Ivory Coast, New South Wales and South Africa
were analysed and the sensitivity of the plants to photoperiod in each location were calculated.
The juvenile phase, the mid-vegetative phase, and the flowering phase were studied closely in relation to photoperiod, temperature, soil conditions and overall growth
pattern to find what minimised the variation in flowering.
Lead researcher David Turner says the effects of photoperiod on bananas had not been fully explored before now. "Originally we thought the development of bananas wouldn't
be responsive to photoperiod but there's some literature that says temperature isn't the only thing that explains it.
"Once we got into the numbers we were surprised that the message seemed to be so clear across all locations. We had several data sets -- we were able to calculate what happened
in one and then use those numbers to predict what's happening somewhere else," he said.
The researchers say this information will give plant breeders potential to breed banana crops that are either more or less sensitive to photoperiod.
First Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 12:48