Another obsession: banana cultivation. I can barely get them to flower and fruit up here because it's overall not a suitable climate for them, but you get enough of them to bloom and a few bunches will make it:
In the tropics and subtropics, it usually takes this variety 120 days to mature from flowering, but this bunch has been hangin since July 14th, 2016 and still isn't ripe as of today!
Lost a few bunches during the winter, but a few made it:
It's a challenge to grow these in cool climates, they look really bad after the winter:
but despite the torture they've been through, they're still pushing out flowers! This one opened April 20, 2017. When they flower so early in the spring, they'll likely be ripe and ready to eat by the end of the fall, and it won't take over a year to mature (EDIT: this bunch rotted out despite not experiencing any freezing temps. It seems Cool temps during the beginning of flowering doesn't work up here). Bananas stop growing when the temps go below 70F, so as long as you get blooms very early in the warm season, you don't have to worry about frost killing your fruit. Blooms that open in October and later rarely have a chance of making it because they're very tender like Asparagus and can't take frost until they thicken up a bit. The downside to flowering this early in the spring is that a lot of the leaves got fried up during the winter, so the bananas will probably be much smaller
Last Edit: Jun 21, 2018 15:35:36 GMT -5 by meizzwang
Yeah, that's musa basjoo (an ornamental cultivar), it'll die back to the corm and come back year after year. That variant will produce bananas, but the bananas will be mostly seeds and little pulp, which is what we eat. In cold climates, getting bananas to flower can be challenging, but getting them to mature in cold weather is difficult and in some cases not possible, variety dependent.
Last Edit: May 12, 2017 18:36:01 GMT -5 by meizzwang
First time ever got them to reach maturity here in Northern California! It took a wopping 10 months from when the first flower opened till the first finger started turning yellow. Not such a big deal in the warmer, semi-tropical climates like in the SE, but here in the SF Bay Area, it's pretty challenging to get these bananas to reach maturity. Photos taken 5/15/17:
This is what a failed fruiting looks like, same cultivar (american goldfinger) but the difference is, this one flowered in december. It was just too cold for too long for these bananas to tough it out, they have since turned black and have been chopped down:
But fortunately, there's other varieties like this Rajapuri that just started flowering, these will likely reach maturity before the winter this year:
Mike, Have you tried Musa 'Veinte Cohol'? Supposed to produce fruit in one season from a 1 gallon. I have been tempted to try it. I have had good luck with growing M. basjoo, M. Sikkimensis and M. velutina outside here in Oregon, but just for ornamental purposes.
From agri-starts" 'Veinte Cohol' banana is a dessert variety from the Philippines. It is quick to produce fruit based on many trials in Georgia. If a 1 gallon plant is put into the ground in spring, there can be fruit before first frost in southern Georgia, and potentially other areas with short growing seasons. 'Veinte Cohol' will produce 3-4" plump bananas that are soft and sweet.
I have tried veinte cohol, received a small corm, babied it carefully, but it died anyways.Small, rootless corms of variants that require heat and hate temps below 70F are difficult to grow here. I think that plant is more suitable for climates like San Diego, Texas, Louisiana, florida, etc. where you get consistently warm days and warm nights during the summer. Even if it freezes hard and dies back to the corm, you can still get a plant to flowering size during the grow season since it's warm from Feb. till about Nov. Up here in Northern Cali, I'm finding the more cold sensitive plants, even if they have an incredibly fast fruiting cycle, are near impossible to get fruit since you can never get the plant to a decent size in time. Our cool nights, even during warm summers, also slows down the plants significantly.
Good job with getting mature fruits! I'm growing a few bananas in my yard as well, but I'm a little limited in NC zone 7b. I have hopes for my Musa velutina. I'm really going to baby it this winter. If only I could grow edible ones.
Thanks boggrower! I think if you cover your plants and get the pstem to survive, you should be able to fruit cold hardy varieties like Dwarf brazilian, blue java, pisang Ceylon, namwah, etc. Even though you have much cooler temps during the winter compared to California, the number of days you have over 70F (the average low temp. needed to get growth on bananas) is far more than what we have here in California. We get significant growth from around June thru October, but even then, growth can be very slow for several weeks because most of the year we have cool nights. In other words, if you take a pup of the same size, grow one here in California and grow the other in NC, it'll take me at least 3 years before it blooms, but you can get it to bloom in probably 6-8 months.
Anyways, forgot to share photos of the fruit that were harvested earlier this year, this is American Goldfinger FHIA-1. Sad thing is out of 6 bunches (ie. 6 separate inflorescences) of bananas , only 3 made it. This is a hand from one of the bunches that made it, each individual banana is called a finger:
Brown color on skin is apparently due to growing bananas in cooler climates:
Last Edit: Jul 25, 2017 18:41:37 GMT -5 by meizzwang
This is the third bunch that I'm harvesting from FHIA-1 American Goldfinger, and just like the other two bunches, it took almost exactly 10 months to mature here in Northern California. Fingers, which are about the size of store bought manzano bananas, are much bigger this time since this came from the first ratoon, whereas the other two fruited from TC water sprouts. The two other bunches took almost exactly 10 months as well! I think in the tropics, this variety takes around 120 days to mature.
Photos taken 7/31/17:
All of those blemishes are from the intense, relentless cold rain and weather we had last winter:
Mike, what's the flavor like, compared to the regular store-type Cavendish?
Congrats on the fruits!
Thank you! Here's some more recent photos:
This was taken literally minutes after harvesting. Looking back, it's best to not let so many fingers ripen to avoid the skin from splitting:
Significantly bigger fingers this time around, but only the first had had very full, plump bananas. Some hands just didn't fill in (see hands in the background) because of the cold killing off the leaves, poor, suboptimal weather for bananas, etc. I'm curious to see if the ones that didn't fill in taste the same or not as good as the ones completely filled in, to be continued:
Here you go!
TASTE REPORT TEXTURE- creamy (multiple people came to this conclusion) and my co-worker says dense, but I personally think it's slightly less dense than a cavendish, but not by much. Very delightful and enjoyable.
FIRMNESS – A little more firm than a grocery store Cavendish at peak maturity.
SWEETNESS- Sweeter than a cavendish at peak maturity.
TARTNESS- A little tart when there is some green at the tip, but then becomes milder after becoming fully yellow
RIPENESS- 1-3 days after the finger has turned yellow (depends on the environment they're ripening under) seems to be when you get peak ripeness. Texture, sugar content, and background subacid flavor is at its perfect balance. Should be a few brown spots on the peel. Slightly bruised fruit seem to ripen quicker. I suspect ripening them "on the vine" will give you better, more complex flavors compared to harvesting them green, but on the other hand, you get a lot of bananas all ripe near the same time.
PEEL: very easy to peel, but quite thin. The brown lines on the inside of the peel are quite attractive and different looking! There are brownish "strings" that attach to the "meat," but it's not noticable when being eaten (they're very soft and not fibrous whatsoever). The "neck" or "stem" of the finger is very fragile/thin and seems to get damaged easily/crack open when the bananas turn yellow. You can't break off a finger from the hand at this point without cracking open the banana.
FLAVOR- as mentioned above, peak flavor is at about 1-3 days after the finger has turned solid yellow. You should see a few dark spots on it, and it should be slightly darker yellow. At this stage, it's sweeter than a cavendish, and has a wonderful, tangy background flavor. I can see how some can describe that aspect as being "berry-like." To me, these bananas are slightly less filling than a cavendish, and you can eat a whole lot of them, but my perspective might be skewed since the fingers were small. It has an absolutely wonderful floral aftertaste according to my wife, who is very picky about fruit and is raving about this variety. I suspect environment plays a huge role on flavor: harvesting at the right time, watering only when it's warm, using lots of organic fertilizers really brings out the flavor. I could see this variety grown in poor soil with synthetic fertilizers having less depth of flavor, much like some commercially produced cavendish bananas.
RATING (out of 10): 9/10 Outside of the amazing flavor, this factors in productivity of the plant in marginal conditions and cold tolerance of the fruit. The bunch withstood several days of frost without any issues, but it has to bloom at the right time when grown in marginal climates (ie. I lost several bunches that bloomed in November and December, but everything that bloomed during the summer survived the cold). If you time the flowering right and get them to bloom in April, I suspect these can be finished in about 6 months here in Northern California, provided normal weather. Only downside is how fragile the peels are once these bananas are fully ripe (refer to the "Peel" description above). Others might balk at the fact that this banana doesn't have its peak flavor right when it turns yellow, but hey, avocados are loved by perhaps billions of people, and similarly, they're only great at a precise stage of ripeness which takes some experience to figure out....
For people in cold climates, I recommend the "6 cane per Mat" approach: you'll end up with smaller bunches, but this increases the chance that you'll have a few bunches that bloom at the right time of year to reach maturity.
Opinion on Commercial Production: Others report this banana isn't popular among the general public and is therefore not commercially produced, but after tasting how much better these are compared to anything I've ever bought at the store, I don't think that's the real reason. When you eat this banana before peak maturity, it doesn't taste all that great, but when eaten at the right stage, the difference in flavor is night versus day.
In addition, it appears this probably wouldn't be good for large scale commercial production because of how fragile the peel is and how hard it would be to ship. However, for the hobby grower, niche market, or even local farmer's market, this is an excellent variety and highly recommended. It's the most productive variety I have so far, with 7 bunches total produced in less than a year! Granted, they didn't all make it, but you get the point: the plant wants to fruit unlike many other varieties that just sulk in my mediocre climate for bananas. It is absolutely staying in the garden for as long as I have a garden!
Last Edit: Aug 8, 2017 11:51:00 GMT -5 by meizzwang
Your observations are very convincing, Mike. actually, even Cavendish was a tough-sell to the public, which had to be educated as to how to after-ripen the fruit. Before Panama Disease wiped out the variety "Gros Michel", no one grew Cavendish, an inferior variety. Cavendish became the major crop only because it was resistant to Panama Disease. Cavendish may also die out, as "Tropical Race 4" of Panama disease has wiped out plantations of Cavendish in south Asia, Australia and the Middle East. Monocultures are vulnerable as diseases adapt to consume available crops. :-o
Like pears, Pawpaws and Medlars, many fruits benefit from picking a little "green/under ripe" and maturing safely in the home. Hardy Kiwi, Actinidia arguta is a prime example; vine-ripened fruit are not as rich tasting and are usually stolen by varmints, compared to green fruits which are ripened off the vine. I didn't believe this until experiencing it, first-hand.
Couple of other banana photos! Musa Rajapuri. Notice one finger is missing: it tasted okay at this stage. However, the ones that turned yellow "on the vine" that were allowed to sit at room temp. for 2 days were the absolute best flavored, but I should have harvested this earlier. Many of the ones that turned yellow on the vine had their skins split open!
More Musa Rajapuri. Even the tiny ones tasted great! My wife said she liked this variety better than american goldfinger, but I beg to differ:
Those pics were from last year. This year there's a really FAT bunch of rajapuri developing:
Musa Ice Cream aka blue java-a very famous, and highly sought after variety that is notoriously mislabeled by plant vendors in the US. Currently, there is no verifiable TC source in the US for this cultivar. The original tissue cultured version turned out to be another variety (namwah), and with a tissue cultured plant, even experts can't give a positive ID until years later when it blooms. ID is very easy: after flowers finish blooming, the bananas will have an unmistakable blue hue to it. Here's a good example:
Here are some Ice Cream fingers about 1-2 months away from ripening. Once they turn yellow, the blue color completely goes away:
If you did get the real deal Ice cream from a division or corm, here's what the bloom looks like:
The rare AeAe variegated banana, extremely difficult to come by and a pain to grow. It's not very cold hardy, and I haven't yet read any other reports of others successfully fruiting it in Northern California, so this might be a first:
the leaves of AeAe are really beautiful and can get even more variegated than this, but the white pigments burn very easily (one of the reasons this plant is difficult to grow and fruit):
Can't wait for these American Goldfinger bananas to ripen, got 6 other bunches of this variety currently hanging!
Last Edit: Jun 21, 2018 15:48:58 GMT -5 by meizzwang
Thanks for updating this thread! If I could only figure out a cost-effective way of heating our family's greenhouse during the Arctic cold fronts of winter, I would totally fill it up with bananas, especially that Ice Cream cultivar. Congrats on the great crop!
sanguinearocks101: What are good plants to make hybrids with S. luecophylla with? Im looking for dark colors.
Sept 10, 2020 18:46:52 GMT -5
adaetz100: Sarracenia purpurea tends to add a lot of red/purple to its offspring, but there are some lovely dark red flava x leucophylla crosses too. Look up 'Royal Ruby' if you're not familiar with it already--it's a natural flava x leuco hybrid
Sept 22, 2020 20:15:04 GMT -5
sarrseens: How about $50
Oct 3, 2020 10:35:54 GMT -5