Aspects of banana cultivation and root health in the Windward Islands. (87)
Keywords:Bananas, Crop production, Nematodes, Fungi, Root disease, Windward Islands, Caribbean, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent, Altitude
AbstractA survey was conducted in the Windward Islands of Dominica, St Lucia, and St Vincent to obtain information on the characteristics of banana farms, cultural practices adopted, the thriftiness of the crops, the health of the roots, and the abundance of root-parasitic nematodes and fungi. Most farms appeared to be thrifty, irrespective of farm size and duration under cultivation, and apparently received proper crop care. Leaf spot disease control, weed control, and the condition of the drains needed improvement on some farms. Farmers perceived the unavailability of chemicals, leaf spot disease, and drought as the main production constraints. Other perceived constraints were various pests, heavy rainfall, soil texture, slope of land, and lack of labour. Necrotic roots parasitized by micro-organisms occurred on all farms. The most abundant root-parasitic nematode was Radopholus similis and the most frequently detected fungus was Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense. All species of root-inhabiting nematodes and fungi were detected at high and low altitudes. Helicotylenchus sp. and Trichoderma spp occurred more frequently at altitudes less than 229 m above sea level (asl) than at higher altitudes and the percentage occurrence of Fusarium spp and the degree of root necrosis were significantly higher in farms at altitudes higher than 229 m asl than at the lower altitudes. The nematode population densities in roots were positively correlated with the degree of necrosis in roots of suckers at high altitudes in St Lucia. The information gained from these studies will be useful in the development of integrated control measures.