Harvest practices for banana
Proper picking is a precondition for being successful in the rest of the supply chain. The performance of the harvest crew is therefore critical to deliver a good quality product. First of all, picking at the right maturity is important to get the bananas in good (green) condition on the long-distance market. The harvest and further handling must be done carefully to avoid bruising and other damages to the product. The use of clean and suitable materials such as sharp knives and a cable way system in the plantation also serves this purpose.
Harvest of bananas
Bananas for export markets are harvested at the pre-climacteric green stage. They must have sufficiently developed their shape in diameter and length. If harvested too early, the taste will not develop well. However if you wait too long, they will become overripe before reaching the consumer. Determining the right harvest moment is therefore important for the eating quality and marketability of the bananas. Good training, instruction and monitoring of individual pickers can ensure a good starting quality. Another important point of attention for the banana harvest is to prevent latex stains on the banana skin..
Attention points for harvest of bananas
Mature, green bananas. Photo by Shahjehan/Shutterstock.com
Harvest maturityBecause banana is a climacteric fruit, it continues
to ripe after harvest. Therefore, the bananas can be harvested when they are mature, but still green. The immature fruit has an angular cross-section, which becomes more rounded during further development. The diameter is an indicator for the maturity at the time of harvest. The exact stage of maturity for harvesting also depends on the time it takes to reach the (export) market.
Employee carrying harvested bananas with a protective sheet.Photo by RossHelen/Shutterstock.com
Harvest methodBananas are harvested by cutting off the entire bunch with a large sharp knife (machete). A second person is needed to carry the bunch. Latex exudes from the cut surface, it must be prevented that this causes stains on the bananas. Protective foam sheets can be stuck between the hands before cutting. This prevents damages during transport (via a cable way system) to an intermediate collection station or directly to the packhouse.
Cable way system for harvested banana bunches must be free of heavy vibrations. Photo by Ricardo Estrella/Shutterstock.com
MaterialsThe availability of good and clean materials will facilitate harvest and product quality will benefit. The machete should be clean and sharp. The carrier can place a flexible pad on the shoulder to hold the heavy bunch. The cable way system must be free of heavy vibrations to avoid mechanical damage to bananas. Developments in mechanization and transportation can reduce labour intensity and reduce mechanical damages.
Did you know that?
Banana plants are often mistaken for trees.Banana plants are actually herbs. They don't have a true trunk. Each plant produces a single flower stem, which develops into one “bunch” (or “stalk”) of bananas. The banana clusters that grow on the bunch are divided in the packhouse into smaller units called “hands”. Each hand contains a number of individual fruits called ‘fingers’.