Evaluation Of Some Musa Genotypes Within Ebonyi State University Plantain Plantation For Some Phenological Attributes

Evaluation Of Some Musa Genotypes Within Ebonyi State University Plantain Plantation For Some Phenological Attributes

Evaluation Of Some Musa Genotypes Within Ebonyi State University Plantain Plantation For Some Phenological Attributes

The total world production of bananas (including cooking bananas and plantains) is approximately 100 million tones. Plantains are pre-dominant in West and Central Africa where they are cultivated either in perennial backyard production system or for a few years (1-3 production cycles) in plots inter-cropped with cocoa, coco yam, maize, vegetables, cassava and citrus.

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The genus Musa belongs to the family of Musaceae, and originated in southeastern Asia, from east and south India to northern Australia. They were introduced to East Africa by the Arabs, from where they spread to the West and Central Africa.

The plants of Musa species are not woody, though they may grow as high as trees. The turn K or pseudostern is not a true stem, but only the clustered, cylindrical aggregation of leaf stalk bases. The leaves are alternate and are among the largest of all plants, becoming up to 9 ft long and 2 ft wide. The inflorescence is a spike, which arises from the corm (the perennial portion of the plant, also known as the rhizome). The inflorescence consists of female, hermaphrodite, and male flowers in this order. It is the ovaries of the female flower that develop into fruits. In view of their high yield, banana and plantain are of great value and importance to humanity.

Musa species are affected by a number of disease such as Fusarium wilt and black sigatoka leaf spot disease. In view of the increasing importance of banana and plantain as domestic food items and industrial raw material, emphasis has been placed on improving the locally available cultivars through plant breeding techniques.

Plantain cultivation has become a feature of great socio-economic importance in areas where they are cultivated from the point of view food security and job creation. Plantain and banana are also very important sources of rural income (Ortiz and Vulylsteke, 1996). Plantain and banana are important food crops and sources of revenue for smallholder farmers on the humid forest and on mid-altitude agro-ecological regions of sub-Saharan Africa (Vuylsteke et al; 1993 a). They provide more than 25% of the carbohydrates for 70 million people. In order to ensure adequate supply of Musa species to satisfy human wants, their genetic resources have to be conserved.

The conservation of genetic resources of Musa species and the maintenance of their genetic diversity are very important for generating raw materials for breeding new lines, ensuring food security and sustaining future agricultural production. This emphasized the need for the establishment of Musa Field Germplasm in Ebonyi State University. However, to better understand the uniqueness of the accessions and varieties in the germplasm, they need to be characterized and evaluated.



The taxonomy classification of the most important Musa species cultivated in Africa is given below:

Kingdom: Plantae.

Phylum: Anthophyta.

Class: Monocotyledonae.

Order: Scitamineae.

Family: Musaceae.

Genus: Musa.

Section: Eumusa.

Species: M. acuminata (AA)

M. balbisiana (BB)


The roots of Musa plants are formed from the corm. They begin at the edge of the external (cortical) part and the internal (medullary) part of the corm.The roots are cylindrical and whitish in color at emission and then turn yellow and get harder as they grow older. They are extremely important agronomically. Nutrition of Musa in terms of water and mineral depends on the root system (CTA, 2005). The uptake of essential elements from the soil will depends on the number, length and conditions of the roots.

Numerous (200-500) fibrous roots arise from the rhizome. In well-drained deep fertile soil, roots may extend to 5ft (1.5m) deep and 16ft (4.9m) laterally. Musa roots are 5.8mm in thickness and generally between 30 and 50cm long, but may be as much as several meters in length if their growth is not checked.


The corm also referred to as rhizome is the perennial portion of Musa plant. The mature corm of a large edible banana plant may be 30cm wide at the top and a little more than that in length. The corm of Musa species has lateral buds, which becomes eyes and then suckers with time. The growth of these suckers is greatly influenced by the stage of growth of their parent plants (e.g. Flowering harvesting). The plant may also exert apical dominance on the suckers. Pruning operation affects the suckers themselves.


The leaves of Musa are alternate and are among the largest of all plants, about 9ft long and 2ft wide. They consist of three parts; the sheath, the petiole and the midrib, which bears the leaf blades. The sheath is that part of the leaf which extends from the base of the plant. The sheaths are tightly packed together to form the pseudostem which is functionally the trunk of the plant responsible for the support of the bunch. As the sheath grows thinner, it forms the petiole and the midrib. Musa petiole is rounded beneath and channeled above, thus, retaining the curved section of their sheath. The midrib is prominent with simple blades and pinnate venation. In windy conditions, leaves tear along the veins, giving a feathered or tattered look.


An inflorescence is formed when the Musa plant has formed a number of leaves. It arises from the corm, grows upward through the channel formed by over-lapping leaf bases and produces a terminal series of large over-lapping bracts, each of which subtends and hides a cymose cluster of flowers. The inflorescence appears above the last leaves in an upright position and consists only of a large purple, tapered bud. As the bud opens, the narrow, white, tubular toothed flowers are revealed, in whorled double rows along the stalk and each cluster covered by a thick, purple bract. The flower stalk begins to droop down under its own weight after opening. As each cymose reaches anthesis, the subtending bract reflexes to expose the flowers and eventually abscises from the inflorescence axis. The flowers are zygomorphic and functionally unisexual, the proximal ones being female and the distal ones male.


The banana inflorescence (flowering stalk) emerges from the center of the pseudostem 10 to 15 months after planting; by this time 26 to 32 leaves has been produced. The process of banana flowering is called Shooting. The flowers appear spirally along the axis of the inflorescence in groups of 10 to 20, covered by purplish to greenish fleshy bracts, which shed as flowering development progresses. The first flowers that emerge are functionally female. In the edible cultivars, the rapidly growing ovaries develop pathenocarpically (without pollination) into clusters of fruits called “hands”. Although most banana cultivars produce seedless fruits, some are fertile and can set seed. The last flowers to emerge are functionally male. In plantain, the male parts of the inflorescence and / or male flowers may be absent or greatly reduced. The time from shooting to fruit harvest depends upon temperature, cultivars, soil moisture and cultural practices and ranges from 80-180 days.

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Production Techniques.

Climatic and Soil Requirements

Rainfall and relative humidity

The total annual rainfall for Musa production must not be lower than 1500mm. Ideally, should be between 120 and 160mm per month throughout the year. Regions where the dry season lasts longer than three or four months should be avoided (CTA, 2005).

Musa production is more profitable in areas with high relative humidity as obtained in sites nearer to the coast; as humidity determines the rate of transpiration and influences rate of leaf mortality particularly during the dry season.


The ideal mean temperature is around 28C. temperature below 16C and above 38C will limit growth. Temperature also plays a part in the development of parasites.



Wind may cause considerable damage in Musa plantations. Musa species generally have poor root system, relative to the size of the aerial parts. Areas sheltered from the wind will therefore be preferred, or wind break hedges or even props will be required. Wind damage is likely to affect the leaf blades, crowns, pseudostem and roots.


Sunny situations are favorable to plantain and banana, since a high degree of sunlight is beneficial to their and limits the development of fungal parasites.

Soil Requirements

Musa species do best on flat (slope 0-17), well drained deep soil, high in organic matter with a P.H of 5.5-7.0.

However, many species perform satisfactorily on the sandy, loamy, muck and calcareous marl and rocky soils. It is imperative that plantain and banana grown away from areas liable to flooding because the roots are rapidly asphyxiated by excess water in the soil. Areas with water table of 500 mm or less are generally not suitable for Musa production.


Planting and Plant Spacing

Plantain and Banana are planted throughout the rainy season, although it should not be planted during the last months of the rains. This is to enable it grow vigorously and without stress during the first three to four months after planting.

Suckers are used for propagation, being taken when they have a stem of 2-6 inches. Suckers are planted immediately after field preparation. Planting holes are prepared with a minimum size of about 30cm x 30cm (Ogazi, 1996). The sucker is placed in the hole and its corm covered first with the topsoil and subsequently with the subsoil.

Before planting, the planting materials are pare to the white tissue to remove all signs of borer, or nematode damage. In the planting hole, the side of the sucker corm, which was formerly attached to the corm of its mother plant is placed against the wall of the hole. The opposite sucker corm is placed towards the middle of the hole where the soil is loose.

The recommended spacing in Musa production is 3m x 2m. by this approach, 1 hectare would contain 1,667 plants. Rows should be straight in flat field to give plants the maximum supply of sunlight. On sloppy lands, rows may follow the contour lines in order to reduce soil erosion.

Fertilizer Requirements

The application of fertilizer starts one month after planting or with the first rains in existing fields. Fertilizer should be prepared on split doses. For better output 3 to 4 closes should be applied in equal installment on the 4th, 16, 24th week and the last close just before or as soon as flowering commence.

However, it is important to take into consideration that the amount of fertilizer needed will depend on soil fertility and soil type, thus making it difficult to give general recommendations without soil or leaf analysis. Nevertheless, the requirement of N.P.K falls within the range 3:1:5 values from 200-350 kg per hectare for N; 150-250 kg per hectare for P2O5; 350 550 kg per hectare for K2O and 120 – 200 kg per hectare for MgO, as experience gained on Nigeria as well as fertilizer usage in Puerto Rico, Cote d’lvoire and Gabon.

Where N.P.K fertilizer is already compounded, it should be applied at the rate of 2.00-2.85 tons per hectare, with supplementary application of 680 kg of muriate of potash per hectare at the beginning of the last month of the rainy season (Ogazi, 1996).


Field research has shown positive plantain and banana responses to organic mulch such as elephant grass, wood shaving, palm bunch refuse, cassava peels, kitchen refuse, etc (Ogazi, 1996).

Although, they require high level of organic mulch to produce these high yields and bananas are high yielding, they require high level of organic mulch to produce these high yields and maintain productivity over a number of years. Mulching is useful to prevent weed regrowth. The major problem however, is that mulching is labor intensive and may require extra hand for biomass production. The lost of mulching can however, be reduced with the use of alley cropping, an agriculture system where much production occurs in-situ.

Weed Control

Weed control starts during field preparation and every 6-8 weeks after planting. However, as canopy closes after about 5-6 months, weed infestation declines due to shading. Shading delay plant and fruit growth and development grasses and herbs are the most harmful weeds as the derive their nutrient from the same level of the soil as the plantain, while tree seedling cannot be considered to be weeds (Ogazi, 1996). Weeds can be controlled manually, chemically or through mulching.


Pruning is normally practiced only to provide suckers for propagation as most banana planting are allowed to grow freely in mats of several plants of varying age and size. The most vigorous sucker left over as the next rattan after the harvest of the mother plant. Suckers can be quickly dispatched with a sharp shooter or matchet when they are only a few inches tall.

Pruning is one of the most important acquired skill in the management of a plantation. In fact, the quality of the pruning, as indicated by population and spacing is a good indicator of the quality of agricultural management.


After the inflorescence emergence, no new leaves are produced, but some of the older leaves and the bract leaves may be touching the recently emerged hands. This will lead to leaf scarring. Leaves that touch or could touch the fingers are cut-off to be at the same level with the pseudostem and the bract leaves are pushed back away from the upper hands of the stem. Usually, no more than one, and at most, two leaves are removed.

Deleafing is of two forms; sanitation deleafing, and fruit protection deleafing. Deleafing for fruit protection is done weekly. Fruit protection deleafing is sometimes combined with sanitation deleafing. This consists of removing all the leaves that have collapsed, and in areas with heavy leaf spot infestation those leaves with 50 percent or more of the area spotted. however, sanitation deleafing is done on a 4 weeks cycle

Maturity and Harvest

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It is difficult to determine precisely at what stage a bunch should be cut. However a bunch may be harvested when it is 3 to 4 months old. The grower should cut his bunches when he considers them to be full, that is when he finds that the angle of the fruit have disappeared. Another indicator of bunch maturity is the yellowing of 1 or 2 fingers tips of the first hand. Bunches are harvested in two stages; a nick is first made two thirds of the way up the pseudostem, to enable the bunch to drop under its own weight. Then stalk is cut just before the bunch touches the ground. The whole of the pseudostem and foliage of the main plant are cut and spread over the soil as mulch to prevent weevils from living and multiplying on the intact pseudostem.

Insect Pest and Diseases

Plantain and banana, like every other crop grow by man, are subject to attack by parasites. Among the insect pest is the banana weevil, a caterpillar (plusia chalcites), which is predominant in Africa and grass hopper (Zonocerus Variegatus). Nematode is also an important pest of banana and plantain.

Nematodes are small worms with certain species that are deadly to banana plants. In Africa, the most serious is Radopholus similis. This is a root parasite which causes lesions that are rapidly invaded by pathogenic micro organism (fungi, bacteria etc.). Heavy nematode infestation leads to a poorly developed root system, general weakening of the plant; retarded growth and development and the production of small poorly formed bunches.

Banana weevils (Cosmopolites sordidus) are the plantain’s main enemy in Africa. The larvae bore tunnels, which can be recognized by the deposits of dust, which mark their position. If there are a lot of tunnels the corn weakens and the banana plant falls over or produces only a small bunch which is often deformed.

Plusia chalcites feeds on soft tissue and attacks heart leaves before they unfurl. Once unfurled, the leaves show lines of holes, giving them a garland-like appearance. In recent years, it has been fairly common to observe very substantial invasion of banana plantations by grass-hopper, Zonocerus Variegatus, which in the dry season cause considerable damage. Other insect (cochineal and thrips) and spider miles (Acarida) sometimes cause damage to the leaves and the fruits.

The diseases of Musa include the following:

1. Rhizome Rot and Tip-over: This bacterial disease, which is also known as head rot or snap-off is common among plantains in Africa and is caused by Erwinia Carotovera and Erwinia Chrysanthemi. It occurs during very rainy seasons when the plant is water logged, and affects the planting material. The symptom of this disease is an evil-smelling wet rot of the corm or suckers. On the adult plantain and banana, there may be sudden yellowing of the leaves, followed very shortly by the death of the plant sections of the pseudostem and the corm clearly show the symptoms of this disease

2. Black Sigatoka Disease: This disease is caused by mycosphaerella figiensis. In plantains, it is characterized by the appearance of large brownish steaks, 1-2mm long and 1mm wide on the underside of the leaves. These patches are particularly visible when the leaf is viewed against the light. In the absence of control, these streaks, which are numerous Coalesce, with black necrotic patches appearing on the topside of the leaf. The blade edges, which are often the most affected areas, tend to fold back on themselves.

3. Bunchy Top Disease: This disease is caused by banana bunchy-top virus-Magee. The Musa plants may show the symptoms of bunchy top at any stage of their growth. The leaves of a badly infected plant are bunched together at the apex of the plant and a rosette is formed. The further elongation of the leaf stalks is arrested and therefore the leaves of infected plant stand more erect than of normal ones.

Infected plants are markedly stunted and they do not usually grow taller than two or three feet. Usually the infected plants do not bear any fruit other diseases include pseudostem wet rot, Moko disease (Bacterial wilt), Cucumber Mosaic, Cordana leave spot and chlorichium leaf speckle disease (CTA, 2005).

4. Panama Disease:

-This disease, also known as Fusarial wilt, banana wilt and vascular wilt, is cause by Fusarium Oxysporum former cubense. This is one of the commonest of banana in the world (Pandey, 2006). The characteristic symptoms of the disease are sudden wilting of the plants as a whole or the collapse of their individual leaves. The leaves become chlorotic, the petioles collapse and the leaf lamina hang downward and wither. Generally, the wounded rhizomes and sucker are affected due to easy entry of organism through these wounds


The benefits of banana and plantain to man cannot be over¬¬¬¬-emphasized they serve as both domestic food items and industrial raw materials. The greatest use for fresh fruit of bananas and plantains in the tropics used to prepare various types of mashes

Nutritionally, plantain and banana are good sources of carbohydrate. They are also rich in protein, potassium. Pro-vitamin A ( carotene), minerals and fiber Gastro intestinal disorders like diarrhoea and vomiting can be treated with plantain and banana. The peel could be used for the production of biogas through the process of anaerobic digestion (Ogazi, 1996).

Industrially, they are fermented for the production of beer, wine and ethanol. They are also dried and processed into flour: used in the production of bread, cake, and biscuit. They are also used in the production of chips and other snacks.



The field experiment was conducted at the teaching and research farm of the Department of Crop Production and Landscape Management, Ebonyi State University (EBSU) Abakaliki, precisely EBSU Plantain Plantation.

The area lies at latitude 600 N and longitude 080 65 OE, and an altitude of 91.44m above sea level in the derived savannah of south-eastern agro ecological zone of Nigeria. The mean annual rainfall is from 1700mm-2000mm. The minimum and maximum temperatures are 27oC and 31oC, respectively. The relative humidity at dry season and rainy season ranges between 65-75%.

3.2 Genetic Materials

Five Musa landraces: Efol, Efol Red, Nibrator, Nblepaul and PITA14 was evaluated in this study. These plantain genotypes were collected from a farm in Edo in Cross River State.

3.3 Land Preparation and Planting

They land was cleared manually as mechanical clearing will cause a lot of soil disturbances which will influence yield of plants.

Musa genotypes were cultivated vegetatively by suckers. The suckers were planted immediately after field preparation. Planting holes, 30cm x 30cm x 30cm was prepared. Suckers were planted at a planting distance of 3m between rows and 2m within rows.

Cultural Practices


Mulching was done using dry grasses and dead leaves. Mulching helped to control weed.

Weed Control

Weed control was done three times. Firstly, they were controlled chemically using glyphosate. Followed by manual weeding and lastly, glyphosate was used again to control the weeds.

Fertilizer Application

N.P.K. 12: 12:17 + 2% MgO fertilizer was applied to each stand at the rate of 230kg/ha.

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Most suckers were eliminated except the tallest one to reduce competition and to take over as the next ratoon after the harvest of the mother plant. Suckers will be pruned with a cutlass.


Deleafing involves the cutting – off of dead plantain and banana leaves using sharp knives. This was done regularly to ensure a neat plantation as well as good quality fruits.

Data Collected:

i. Planting Date (PD): The day the suckers was planted.

ii. Days to harvest (DTH): The number of days elapsed from planting to the day of harvesting the matured plantain or banana fruit.

iii. Plant height (PHT): This is measured after the emergence of the inflorescence, from soil level to the point where the two highest petioles meet each other.

iv. Plant girth (PGT): The circumference of the pseudostem

v. Height of tallest sucker (HTS): measured as in PHT.

Statistical Analysis

Statistical analysis of data was based on the procedure for a randomized complete Block Design (RCBD) for factorial experiment as outlined by Steel and Torrie, (1980). The separation of treatment means for significant effect was done using F-LSD as described by Obi ,(1986) and Okporie, (2006).


Results of analysis of variance (Table 1) indicate highly significant differences (P < 0.01) among the Musa genotypes for plant height. The genotypes were significantly different (P < 0.05) for plant girth, height of tallest suckers and number of days to harvest.
Plant Height

Among the genotypes studied (Table 2), Efol red produced the tallest plants at harvest (253.33 cm), followed by Nibrator (208.9 cm) and Efol (192.63cm). Values obtained for these two varieties differed significantly from values recorded for Nblepaul, PITA 14, and Agbagba. The shortest plants were produced by Nblepaul (177.76cm).
Height of Tallest Sucker at Harvest

At harvest, the tallest suckers were produced by Efol red (177.5cm), followed by PITA 14 (128.9cm) and Nibrator (126.4cm). Nblepaul produced the shortest suckers at harvest (104.6). Tallest suckers of Agbagba were not significantly different from those of Efol but significantly different from Efol red, PITA 14 and Nibrator.

Plant Girth

In terms of plant girth at harvest, Efol red produced the highest plant Girth at harvest (47.66) which differed significantly from PITA 14, NblePaul, and Agbagba. Efol and Nibrator were the next, having mean values of 36.80 and 38.50, respectively. PITA14 had the lowest no of plant Girth at harvest (31.63).

Days to Harvest

The shortest number of days to harvest in this experiment was recorded for Agbagba (441.66 days, approx. 14 months). This differed significantly from number of days to harvest recorded for all the other genotypes studied. The highest number of days to harvest was recorded for Efol red (664 days, approx. 21.4 months), followed by PITA 14 (638.53 days), Efol (621.55 days), Nibrator and Nblepaul (611.27 and 611.63 days, respectively) Nibrator was not significantly different from Nblepaul, but differed significantly from PITA14 and Efol.

Table 2

Mean performance of six Musa genotypes for some phonological traits at the EBSU Musa germplasm, Ebonyi State University

Genotypes Days to harvest Plant height (cm) Height of tallest sucker Plant girth


Agbagba 441.66 1 80.58 122.16 33.66

Efol 621.55 192.63 122.86 36.80

Efol red 664 253.33 177.5 47.66

Nibrator 611.27 208.9 126.4 38.50

Nblepaul 611.63 177.76 104.6 34.7

PITA 14 648.53 178.83 128.9 31.63

F-LSD0.05 44.95 20.20 31.92 4.52



Plant height at harvest was significantly different among the varieties in this study. This is an indication of genetic variation among the varieties. Tallness predisposes the plantain psuedostem to lodging due to wind damage, while short cultivars are more suitable in windy zone than tall ones. (Ortiz and Vuylsleke,1995) explained that dwarfism observed in plantain-banana hybrid maybe under the control of a recessive gene that affects false internode length of the pseudostem. According to Alvarez (1997), PITA 14 (hybrid) was short and strong which allowed them to support heavier bunches and to resist the effect of the wind. The present result corroborates their report since PITA 14 was almost the shortest among the genotypes studied. Plant height for one of the local varieties ‘Nblepaul’ (177.76cm) was also relatively short (statistically the same with PITA 14), indicating a possible gene for dwarfism in this genotype.

On the other hand, ‘Efol red’, a local variety had the highest plant girth (47.66cm) which was significantly different from all the other genotypes, while PITA 14 had the lowest plant girth averaging 31.63cm. The plant girth should be big and thick to support the bunch and drooping of bunch (Dzomeku et al., 2004). Hence, a tall and slim pseudostem is susceptible to wind and drooping of bunch. In another study (Alvarez;1997), PITA 14 (hybrid) was presented as having very vigorous plants, stronger and more erect pseudostems which allowed them to support heavier bunches and to resist the effect of wind, contradicting the present result where PITA 14, an IITA hybrid produced the smallest pseudostems . Again, the present results indicate that some of the landraces may be implicated as parents in breeding for increased girth and bigger pseudostems.

The height of tallest sucker at harvest was significantly different among the Musa varieties. ‘Efol red’ had the tallest suckers, averaging 177.5cm, while Nblepaul had the shortest suckers at the time of harvest of the mother plant. There may have been low to moderate levels of sucker inhibition in the hybrid and most of the landraces except Efol red. Sucker growth is greatly influenced by the state of growth of the parent plant (harvest or flowering). The parent plant may exert apical dominance on the suckers. Again, bananas have suckering growth than plantain. Ortiz and Vulylsteke (1994),suggested that bananas may have this improved sucker development owing to dominant gene for non-apical dominance.

In terms of days to harvest, there were variations among the Musa varieties studied. Shorter number of days to harvest is an indication of faster cycling of the genotype. This means that the variant of ‘Agbagba’ used in this study should be further investigated for genes for earliness, as well as two of the landraces – Nibrator and Nblepaul.

Early maturity is a desirable characteristic because early maturing varieties normally complete the cycle faster than a late maturing one. This makes them non-desirable for small holder banana production system (Gaidashova et al., 2005). Robinson and Albert (1989) had reported that watering regimes influence earliness to flowering and reduced cycling period.


Agbagba had the shortest cycle and should be considered to meet the need for small holder banana production and the hybrid should be used in windy zones than landraces. This suggests that these genotypes were well adapted to the climatic condition of Abakaliki agro-ecological zone. Thus, they are recommended for cultivation as an increase in the farmer’s income is assured.


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