Just wondering if anyone knows approximately how long it takes for bananas to be ready to cut down. Mine appeared in November, and one of the bunches, although still green, looks filled out and plump. For some reason I had in my mind that it took five months, but I'm not really sure where I got that idea from.
Of course I am impatient and want to cut them down as soon as I can :)
I have read that when they are plump but still green you can harvest... but no idea how to tell personally if they are plump enough! When I was speaking to Annette McFarlane she indicated that they would probably be flowering in November and ready in January...If they are cut down when green, allegedly you can cut one bunch at a time and ripen it by putting in a bag with other ripe fruit.
The weather has been unseasonal though, and our bananas were more like late November but I am hoping that it will be in the next few weeks - yours were first though so hopefully I can harvest when yours turn yellow lol.
Ready in January hey, that's a bit fabulous! Mine do look ready, if it ever stops raining I'll take some close ups to show what I mean. I really like the idea of cutting off one hand at a time, I'll feel like Jane in the jungle eating my bananas!
I'll try post a photo tomorrow.
How are all yours going? I have three plants bananaing, with two more not far behind. They were suckers that have just shot up with all this rain. I am so looking forward to chopping down a big mother plant when the bananas are off it, talk about having fun with a bit of destruction!
My biggest bunch looks almost ready I think, then another one is only a couple of weeks behind. I then have one that is probably about two months away and another one that is still unfurling new bunches.
The next four shouldn't be far behind they are the suckers off these and are almost the same size. Not sure if the newer ones will be fruiting this year though will have to wait and see :)
Think you have to cut the whole bunch down before it ripens or likely some pest will eat them, think people hang them say in a garage, shed or laundry then cut bunches off as they ripen ... or if you pick it at the right time you cut them off then ripen them in a bag with ripe fruit.
I know what you mean about destruction - I just love breaking things, no idea what we will be using though might need a new tool!
Ali, Banana bunches are heavy, awkward and the sap is messy and leaves stains everywhere. Wear old clothes which don't matter, be prepared to be surprised at how heavy a bunch is. If you hang the bunch somewhere, make sure it's rat proof. Or cut each hand off the main stem - you'll need a heavy sharp knife or a machete to do that, the stem is very fibrous.
Bananas are mature enough to ripen normally when the ribs are rounded. Check out the ones in the shops and see the differences in the ribs. I don't know if the number of ribs vary, but our bought Cavendish have 3 ribs inside the curve and 2 on the outer curve. Usually the commercial fruit are picked green but mature and when gassed for sale, the ribs get rounder. The one sure-fire way of checking ripeness is to wait for the first fruit bat to take a bite, they are the experts on ripe fruit.
So if the ribs are rounded out then I could cut them down and let them ripen off the tree?
I hadn't thought about the weight of the bunch, lucky you mentioned it, I can just see me up the ladder realising I've bitten off more than I can chew. I've no idea what I am actually going to cut the plant or the bunch down with, I am having visions of hacking away at the poor thing with a bread knife!
Keep your bread knife for bread or trimming potted plants roots!
Once those ribs are rounded, the fruit will ripen. I see commercial growers cutting into the stem and letting it come to the ground and hefting the bunch from there rather than climbing a ladder and perilously balancing the bunch on their shoulder. You'll need a cutting rather than sawing device to cut the stem. The stem is cut almost through, just to the point where it bends and lowers with the weight of the bunch. If you don't have access to a machete (jungle knife) or a cane knife then a sharp tomahawk might do the job. At a pinch I'd try a bow saw if it's really sharp. You do a cut on the side you want it to fall and then your main cut above that the way a tree is felled. There's probably some YouTube videos on how to cut down a banana stem!
Once you've got your bunch severed from the tree, allowing the sap to drain will save stains - garden gloves will be handy to keep the sap from your hands - it's tough to scrub off. Then if you're going to hang it, some quite strong rope will be needed, firmly tied around the stem. It's simpler to take off the hands and put them in a box than to struggle with the whole bunch.
Thanks Elaine for your great advice! I think I'll give the box a try - can the bunches be sitting on each other or should there be a layer of paper between bunches do you know?
Have you seen cane knife at the big green shed? Will have to go and have a look for something suitable...
I just put mine as upright as I could leaning on the box side and each other. In the years since, there is now available plastic-like material which helps Bananas to stay fresh - absorbs the ethylene gas I believe. Look up www.peakfresh.com.au, made in Australia green vege bags and their banana box liners although the latter might be only available in large quantities.
Don't know about a cane knife or machete either at a hardware, never been looking for them but have seen them (either or both) at disposals stores.
Nor, god forbid, 140 kgs of bananas to dry! Good that you got some help from Peak Fresh - now if you have to buy more than you want I'll buy some from you, we always have hassles storing bananas in the fridge. I use the small green bags and bubble wrap to keep the temp up a bit otherwise the skins go black but some sheets of the material would be more useful.
Once you've been through the hoops of harvesting your first crop, you can be selective in which suckers you keep so that you can have one bunch ripening each month or so, if you had 12 plants you could have a bunch a month at least in theory. But that's how the commercial growers work it or they would have every plant ripening a bunch at the same time; takes longer over winter though.
I'd like to try the bunch per month Elaine, what a wonderful growing challenge to achieve that would be.
I just went up the ladder and looked at the bunch I thought might be ready, and up close you can see they still have a bit of filling out to do. I did take some photos, I'll try and upload one as soon as I get a moment.