ISSN: 0041-3216 (Online), 0041-3216 (Print)
Volume 60 Number 1
Agronomic assessment of the relative suitability of the banana cultivars 'Robusta' and 'Giant Cavendish' (Williams hybrid) to irrigation
Giant Cavendish' (Williams hybrid) is a significantly shorter (P = 0.01) cultivar than 'Robusta' with a smaller photosynthetic source size. Failure to establish significant and economically important differences between the two cultivars in fruit yield per plant, pulp and peel consistency and bunch uniformity strongly supports 'Giant Cavendish' as a more efficient fruit producer than 'Robusta'. This factor, coupled with the lower susceptibility to wind damage, resulted in 'Giant Cavendish' outyielding 'Robusta' by 13.4% over three cropping cycles. The susceptibility of both cultivars to wind damage increased under irrigation but even under the highest soil moisture conditions of this study, losses sustained from wind damage by 'Robusta' were 2-5 times higher than losses by 'Giant Cavendish'. Toppling was significantly larger (P = 0.05) for 'Giant Cavendish' under extreme wind conditions only, accounting for 15% loss of the crop. Under less extreme wind conditions, losses from toppling accounted for < 2 %, of the crops of 'Giant Cavendish' and 'Robusta'. The greater susceptibility of 'Giant Cavendish' to drought as illustrated by 'choking', bunch deformation and 'openhandedness' does not detract from its other more favourable characteristics which would support the use of this cultivar both under rainfed and irrigated agriculture in the Caribbean.
Keywords: Irrigation; Banana; Agronomy