Growing Banana
crop nutrition advice

All information about banana fertilization, best practice, suitable products, field trials and more can be found here.

Advice for growing Banana (Musa spp.)

  • Bananas grow well over a wide range of soils.

  • Soils pH should be between 5.5 to 6.5 and they must not be compacted.

  • Optimum temperature for leaf emergence is about 25-30⁰C. Banana crops are sensitive to low temperatures.

  • In tropical environments, a crop cycle may be as short as seven months.

  • Below 10⁰C chilling occurs, and irreversible frost damage happens when leaves are exposed to -2⁰C for 10-15 minutes.

Nutrient requirements

Estimated nutrient uptake (kg/t):


50 ton/ha fresh fruit @ 2000 plants/ha 

Source: IPI Bulletin 7 – Fertilizing for High Yield – Banana (1989). 

Dynamic of nutrient uptake over a crop season in banana

(kg/t ff*)
(kg/ha) 40 t ff*
(kg/ha) 40 t ff*

* ff = fresh fruit

Source: Research Data INIAP-IPI (2020)

Role of nutrients

Yield Parameters:
Bunch weight++++
Hands/Bunch ++
Fruit/Hand +
Fruit number +
Fruit weight +
Fruit diameter +
Fruit length +
Quality Parameters:
Sugar/Acid ratio +
Total Soluble Solids ++
Ascorbic Acid (Vit D) +
Peel Disorders -

+ = improving; – = decreasing;

Source: Banana Crop Guide, Haifa. 

Nutrient deficiencies

NitrogenDeficiency symptoms appear rapidly, and simultaneously show on leaves of all ages.
Leaves become very small and are pale green.
Mid-rib, petioles and leaf sheaths become reddish pink, leaves production rate is markedly decreased. Distance between successive leaves is reduced, producing a 'rosette appearance’, poor growth leading to a stunted plant. Fruit bunches become small., reduced number of bunches.
Reference: Rahul Mane B.Sc.
PhosphorousReduced vigor, stunted growth and poor root development, leaf margins of the oldest 4-5 leaves, become chlorotic. Under severe P deficiency leaves develop purple-brown flecks eventually producing 'saw-teeth' necrosis of the leaf edges. Affected leaves curl and petioles break, young leaves have a deep bluish-green color. Delayed fruit maturity
PotassiumPotassium deficiency symptoms normally appear at flowering time.
Rapid appearance of orange / yellow color on older leaves which subsequently get dry and die, the mid-rib of these leaves are very often bent or broken at two-thirds of its length making the leaf pointing downwards.
Plants produce small leaves, delayed flowering. Reduced bunch size, this symptom shows before the effect on plant growth.
CalciumSymptoms appear on the younger leaves due to low calcium mobility into the plant, generally- after a flush of growth, or as a result of unbalanced potassium application.
Interveinal chlorosis near leaf margins. ‘Spike leaf’- deformation or absence of leaf blade, fruit cracks easily upon fruit maturation, fruit bends up, producing a more concave form. Reduced fruit diameter and biomass.
MagnesiumChlorosis of leaf margins of older leaves. Yellowing extends towards the mid-rib, with a green band remaining near the mid-rib. The chlorosis is more severe in leaves exposed directly to sunlight, purple mottling of the petioles.
Separation of leaf-sheath from the pseudo-stem. Reduced plant height, fruits do not ripen well and become tasteless.
SulphurSymptoms are similar to nitrogen deficiency, but chlorosis is uniform and general throughout the entire plant, including younger leaves. Heart leaf becomes white, and other leaf blades become very soft that tear easily. Thickening and leaf creasing, plants with advanced deficiency will be stunted.


Recommendations on growing bananas

Step 1: Seedlings

Seedlings can be obtained through the acquisition from nurseries producing reputable micropropagated seedlings or self-produced by experienced fruit growers.

Step 2: Planting

To have standard plots and easier crop management, seedlings must be accordingly separated. In holes where the seedlings didn’t germinate, new seedlings should be planted 30 to 40 days after planting.

Step 3: Crop Management

  • Weed control should be carried out especially in the initial phases.
  • Thinning aims to eliminate excess shoots in the clump, leaving one daughter per plant and, later, the granddaughter. Each clump will usually have three plants: mother, daughter and granddaughter.
  • Defoliation eliminates broken, dry, disease-infected leaves, and even those that are causing damage to the bunch. It improves shoots development, reduces disease incidence, increases aeration and luminosity, and facilitates harvesting.

Step 4: Eliminate Heart and Flowers

The “heart” of banana must be eliminated 10 to 20 cm below the last lot soon after opening. This speed up development of the bunch, improves fruit quality and reduces pest’s incidence. Flowers must be eliminated soon after the elimination of “heart” and carried out only in varieties with persistent male flowers below the last bunch to also reduce pest’s incidence.

Step 5: Bag the bunch

This operation protects fruits against pests, physical damage and accelerates and evens out the bunch development. It must be done after removing the “heart”, male flowers, and the last bunch.

Fertilizer applications must be done depending on crop stage and based on soil contents, nutrient extraction, and weather conditions.

For the different countries, fertilizer applications may vary from 4 to 24 times per year according to wet periods or irrigation frequency. However, when using slow or gradual release fertilizers the number of applications might be reduced and a positive impact on yield, quality and profitability could be expected.

As a medium rate to obtain medium to high productivities an approximate recommendation varies around 400-60-600-130-60-60 kg/ha/year of N, P2O5, K2O, CaO, MgO, and S respectively, plus a reasonable rate of micronutrients based on the yield levels of each farm.

Grow banana plants in full sun to partial shade in a sheltered spot
Banana plants need fertile, moist but well-drained soil

Banana Trials

Banana with Polysulphate
Juquiá, São Paulo state, Brazil, 2017


Increase in vigor


Here are some frequently asked questions we received from farmers regarding growing Bananas.

  • Frequency depends on local conditions and irrigation presence. Some farmers can apply up to 24 times a year but using more eficcient fertilizers such number can also be optimized.

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