Prediction of Flower Emergence and Evaluation of Cropping Potential in Selected Banana Cultivars (Musa sp.) Cultivated in Subtropical Conditions of Coastal Alabama

in HortScience

The development of more cold-tolerant short-cycle banana cultivars has made subtropical production possible, but fruiting may be unreliable in colder margins, such as the coastal region of Alabama, as a result of cold winter temperatures and other suboptimal growing conditions. Thus, the objectives of this study were to determine plant growth parameters that predict flowering, and to evaluate vegetative and reproductive growth of Cavendish and non-Cavendish banana cultivars. Pseudostem circumference and the height-to-circumference ratio (HCR) for tall cultivars and HCR for medium cultivars exhibited linear or quadratic relationships when regressed to the number of days from planting to inflorescence emergence (DPE), and hence were the best predictors of inflorescence emergence. The banana cultivars Double, Grand Nain, Cardaba, Ice Cream, and Goldfinger demonstrated cropping potential by producing mature bunches in the cooler environment of the subtropics and currently offer the best possibilities for banana production in Alabama.

Contributor Notes

This project was supported by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and the Hatch program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Alabama Fruit, Nut and Vegetable Industries.

We thank Director Malcomb Pegues, Associate Director Jarrod Jones, Horticultural Specialist Bryan Wilkins, and all the support staff of the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center in Fairhope, AL, for daily maintenance of banana planting and assistance with data collection. We also thank Auburn University graduate students Andrej Svyantek and Roy Langlois for their valuable assistance. We thank Agri-Starts Wholesale Nursery (Apopka, FL) for donating the banana plants for this study.

Corresponding author. E-mail: edc0001@auburn.edu.

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    (A) Cardinal temperature range for ‘Cavendish’ and non-‘Cavendish’ banana (Musa sp.) compared with historical mean monthly maximum and minimum temperatures in Fairhope, AL. Cardinal temperatures are between the upper and lower bold lines; optimal temperatures are between the upper bold and dotted lines. Temperature data were retrieved from the Alabama mesonet and represent 8 years of data. (B) Average monthly maximum and minimum percent relative humidity in Fairhope, AL. Weather data gathered from 2013 to 2015 during the most actively growing periods of bananas. Percent relative humidity data were retrieved from the Alabama mesonet. The top and bottom lines indicate maximum and minimum percent relative humidity, respectively.

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