NCTA greenhouse has gone bananas
CURTIS, Neb. – Visitors to the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) greenhouse are often surprised to find bananas growing in Nebraska, but, the biggest shock is actually seeing one of the plants in full bloom and producing bananas.
Lance Stott, Horticulture Systems Division Chair at NCTA, says it is not a rare occurrence for bananas to bloom in greenhouses, but adds that it does take several months for a banana plant to be large enough to produce fruit. The time to production is likely increased in greenhouse grown plants. The bananas in the NCTA greenhouse started blooming in late August. The first of the bananas are still green but will soon be ripe. The banana plant had been growing for at least a year before flowering this summer.
Bananas are parthenocarpic fruits, meaning that they do not have to be pollinated to produce fruit. Bananas are also monocarpic which means that once they flower and produce fruit, they die. However, banana trees produce small plants around their roots called “pups.” Once the adult plant flowers and dies, one of the pups will grow in its place. Because of this phenomenon, banana plantations can last for many years before having to be rejuvenated.
Banana plants are actually not trees, but the fleshy stems can grow to 30 feet for some varieties. The stems are stout enough to hold banana bunches which can weigh up to 100 pounds and hold between 60 and 200 individual bananas. So far, there are over 50 bananas on the NCTA plant, and it continues to bloom. Stott says that everyone is excited for the bananas to be ripe and adds that it can take up to two months for the bananas to ripen, depending on the size of the flower. Because of this, once they have produced an acceptable number of bananas, growers frequently cut bunches off of the plant when they are still green and allow them to ripen in a cool, shady place.
For more information on the greenhouse, please contact NCTA at 1-800-3CURTIS.
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