On Friday we went on a banana plantation tour run by Dole for the past 17 years. It wasn’t until today that I realized I knew nothing about growing and harvesting bananas!
Lesson #1: Bananas do not grow on trees. Banana grow on herbaceous stem plants that get about 20 feet in height.
Lesson #2: Each banana plant requires about 36 liters of water per day and only has about 20-30 leaves before producing a bud (see the purple arrow-looking thing below).
Lesson #3: The blue bags protect the bananas from bruising by the surrounding leaves. It also provides a mini climate that allows the bananas to be ready for harvest a week early. The bunches of bananas weigh an average of 60-70 lbs and they can even get up to 125 lbs. Because of the weight, the trees are tied with an orange twine to keep them from falling over.
Lesson #4: Banana fruits are which means only the female flowers produce the bananas even without fertilization. If you look at the picture below you can see the mini bananas with flowers still attached. A worker get paid to pick off the flowers by hand to eliminate the chance that it will rot and leave a black line in your banana.
I had the opportunity to climb up the ladder and “bag” a new bunch of bananas – it is harder than it looks!
The professionals (below) are showing us how to harvest the bananas by making only 3 cuts in the banana plant.
The bananas are then put on a pulley system and taken to the processing area.
After the bananas are cut into smaller bunches and cleaned they get stickers are every other banana in the bunch.