August 2012. A banana “disease” has been described from Niue by a local farmers as follows:
“The banana plant grows at the length of approximately 3-4 m, fruits and before the fruits matures the bunch falls off and the top part of the banana plant dies. The whole banana plant does not fall, but just the top part where the leaves are and where the fruit used to be. The farmer has been having this problem for a while; he has shown it to some agricultural officers, but they do not recognise the symptoms”.
A member suggested to cut the stems and see what’s inside. It maybe that the damage is caused by insects, this is commonly found to be the cause of such symptoms, perhaps chewing beetles such as Oryctes rhinoceros high in the pseudostem.
Similar symptoms were reported from New Caledonia, and these are shown above (see photos: lower, left & right), and also from Samoa where they was said to be common. In Samoa, a member thought it was a combination of a number of factors:
- Foremost,is the effect of the Banana black leaf streak (Black Sigatoka disease) – all the leaves are completely dead before the bunch matures while the rest of the stool is alive
- Radopholus similis nematode damage to the roots
- Banana weevil borer (Cosmopolites sordidus) damage to the banana corm
And the symptoms are worse if Bunchy top virus is present. With all these diseases present, it would not be surprising if the plant gets to “breaking point”.