AFTER-CARE. The removal of suckers, dry leaves and pseudostems, from which the fruits have been harvested, constitute the main after-care. Daughter-suckers should be removed promptly until the mother-plant flowers, when one daughter-sucker may be allowed to take its place. The removal of dry leaves and useless pseudostems requires to be done in time. After all the fruits are formed, the pendant portion of the remaining inflorescence along with the heart should be removed.
The propping of plants with bamboo poles, especially those which have thrown out bunches, is necessary wherever damage by wind is apprehended. Where the wind damage is recurring, dwarf varieties should be preferred.
IRRIGATION. The banana-plants require very heavy irrigation. Irrigation is given in most places once in seven to ten days. Stagnation of water in the soils is not very congenial to the proper growth of banana and, hence, the drainage of soil is also essential.
HARVESTING. Early varieties commence flowering in southern and western India about seven months after planting, and the fruits take about three months more to ripen. In the Andhra Pradesh delta areas, the fruits are ready for harvesting about seven to eight months after planting. The first crop of the ‘Poovan‘ variety matures in 12 to 14 months and the second in 21 to 24 months after planting. In other parts of India, the first crop is usually gathered a year after planting, whereas the succeeding crop may be ready in six to ten months thereafter.
The bunch is harvested just before it attains the ripening stage. When the fruits have reached the full size, they become plump, and mature with a distinct change in colour. For long transport, the bunch may be harvested somewhat earlier. The bunch is cut, retaining about 15 cm of the stem above the first hand. The yield varies considerably from 26,000 to 55,000 kg per hectare.
CURING AND MARKETING. The ripening of banana is done in several ways, e.g. exposing the bunches to the sun, placing them over a hearth, wrapping them in closed godowns or smoking them in various ways. One of the common ways is to heap the fruits in a room and cover them with leaves, after which fire is lit in a corner and the room is closed and made as air-tight as possible. Ripening takes place usually in 30 to 48 hours. In a cool store, the bunches ripen well at about 15o to 20oC. The application of vaseline, a layer of clay or coal-tar to the cut-ends of the stalks prevents rotting during ripening and storage. Wrapping up the fruits and packing them in crates help to reduce the damage during transport.
Mango. Mango (Mangifera indica L.) occupies nearly half of the total area under fruits in the country. It is adaptable to a wide range of soil and climatic conditions and grows well right from Assam to the southern-most limits of the country and from the sea-level up to about 1,500 metres. It withstands both fairly dry conditions and heavy rainfall, provided severe and recurring frosts in winter do not endanger the young trees.