Why They Put Bags On Banana Trees And How It Works

Banana plants in australia

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing lots of videos showing the harvesting of juicy, colorful fruit — all with bags over them! The first thought that comes to my mind is to prevent bugs, but why else? If you haven’t seen this with banana trees before, I’m sure you’re intrigued!

Bags on banana trees help prevent infestations from insects, damage from the environment, birds, or other animals. A lot of the bags used on commercial fruit farms are laden with insecticides to protect bananas from insect damage. It also helps improve the outer aesthetic of the fruit.

Keep reading to learn more about why they put bags on banana trees, and how it works!

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Why Do They Put Bags On Banana Trees?

Banana bagging, or bunch covering, has been used for centuries. Originally, banana leaves were wrapped around banana bunches to protect them from winter temperatures.

However, bagging is now common practice throughout the world on fruit farms and is proven to increase the yield and quality of fruit.

Bagging, to be more specific, is the physical practice of placing a bag over banana bunches at different stages of growth!

Bagging not only protects the banana fruit against insect damage and animals, but it also creates a microclimate! This microclimate protects bananas from frost damage and helps maintain a more consistent temperature.

This process also enhances external and internal fruit aesthetics by reducing blemishes and improving color. Banana covering is labor-intensive and pretty costly, but for many farmers, the benefits outweigh the costs. 

There are a few methodologies and practices to follow for bagging banana trees. Let’s dig deeper into the world of bananas!

How Do Banana Bags Work?

Cavendish bananas plantation, bunches are encased in plastic bags for protection

Bananas have a thick peel, often a bright yellow when ripe, and have little to no blemishes on them, at least in the grocery store. This is where banana bags come in! There are a few different banana bags or also known as bunch covers.

These covers have unique characteristics and different uses. Let’s find out more.

Protect Against Damage

This includes transparent, blue polyethylene, half blue and half silver plastic, all-season bunch covers, and PP non-woven skirting bags. Some bags, mainly used by commercial growers, are saturated with insecticides to protect banana crops.

These bunch covers or banana bags protect bananas and other fruits against pathogens, damage from wind, birds, and sun, scarring, and damage during harvesting. 

Additionally, banana bags can protect fruits from freezing temperatures and reduce stress. So, as you can see, there are a multitude of reasons banana growers choose to use banana bags on their fruit.

Block UV Rays From The Sun

Transparent bag covers are mainly used to block UV rays from the sun. These bags allow for better light and temperature to penetrate the bananas and increase their growth. In certain conditions, where sunscald is an issue (basically sunburn on bananas), transparent bags are not used.

Blue polyethylene bags are commonly used in large-scale, or commercial banana farms. Sunscald, as we mentioned above, can be prevented using these bags.

The blue polyethylene blocks UV rays but still allows heat to penetrate, promoting optimal growth. These bags also prevent infestations from insects, and protection from birds, and other environmental factors. 

Maintains Proper Temperature Of The Bananas

Half blue and half silver plastic bags have a dual feature, and are pretty cool! 

The silver part of the bag faces toward the sun, with the blue side facing the trunk. Facing the blue side towards the north increases the temperature within the bag during the winter months.

The opposite is true during the summer and warmer months. Facing the silver side towards the north during the summer months decreases the temperature within the bag. This dual feature helps keep a constant temperature in the bag to improve fruit growth. 

An all-season bunch cover is a bag used to protect against harsh growing conditions. It was developed in Australia and ensures even heating, lighting, and development of bananas. They also have more UV protection than other banana bags.

Controls Ripening Of Bananas

Next is the PP (polypropylene) non-woven skirting bag. These bags are made up of a fabric that protects without sacrificing water permeability.

This type is supposed to help control the ripening of bananas and allow airflow and moisture circulation. It is also said to block insect and pathogen infestations completely!

When you’re picking out bananas in the store, you probably go towards the ones with the least amount of blemishes, bruises, or cuts on the outside of the peel.

Well, your bananas have probably been covered with banana bags! Banana covering yields better fruit quality and increases its market value, specifically because of a blemish-free appearance.

Effectiveness Of Banana Covers

Bananas wrapped in blue plastic bags on a tractor trailer, aerial view.

It has become the most common practice in commercial banana production to cover bananas. They vary based on thickness, color, and type, as we mentioned above. 

The thickness of banana bags doesn’t affect the efficiency but affects the overall cost. What the thickness of the banana cover does is control and influence the overall temperature within the bag and can actually increase issues with bananas themselves if the climate isn’t just right.

The color of banana bags is another factor that influences banana growth and fruit quality. 

Banana covers come in white, blue, and silver, as we mentioned above. Using different colors of banana bags depends on the season, climate, and region. Each has a different impact on growth depending on what they’re used for. 

White-colored bags let in the most light, and blue covers let in the second most light. This leads us to what is better, white or blue? 

Blue banana bag covers result in bigger and heavier bunches of bananas. 

Why do you think this is? If you said UV rays, you’d be correct! 

The blue bag covers let in the most amount of heat without letting in UV rays, meaning no sunburn!

Another study from the Agricultural and Food Engineering Department of the Indian Institute of Technology looked at why colored bags are superior to non-colored bags. Colored bags not only reduced the time between flower emergence and harvesting, but they improved the quality and yield of bananas and offered protection against UV rays and pests. 

As we mentioned above, the different bags are used for different reasons and in different seasons, climates, and regions. Banana bagging can also quicken the maturity of banana bunches, ensuring on-time harvests for banana farmers. 

The effectiveness of bunch covers is substantial. Bananas covered with bags don’t show signs of scratches, blemishes, or physical injury, compared to uncovered bananas. 

In case we didn’t make the point earlier, banana bunch covers increase yield, quality, and size. Bananas also mature much quicker when covered with polyethylene covers. Using these bags can also limit the use of insecticides used on banana crops.

However, it depends on the insects growers are targeting, and the efficiency of the bag by itself.

Can I Grow My Own Banana Tree?

Raw bananas hanging on banana tree.

If this article is getting you excited about growing plants, well you’re in luck. You can grow a banana tree from the comfort of your own home!

There are ornamental banana trees (which produce fruit but you can’t eat it), and those that produce edible fruit. 

Whatever variety you decide on, bananas trees need full sunlight and at least 12 hours of sunlight. Depending on the type of banana tree, like the dwarf cavendish banana tree, they are self-pollinating, meaning you don’t need another tree near it to produce fruit. 

Additionally, banana trees need specific soils and consistently warm temperatures to produce fruit (you can view the best banana tree soils here.)

They will not survive if temperatures reach below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you live in a USDA Hardiness Zone under 8, your banana tree will be a seasonal plant to have around the pool or patio, or grown as an indoor plant. 

If you want to grow it inside, it will not produce fruit, however, if you live in a tropical climate there’s a chance your banana plant can fruit! 

The Brighter Blooms – Ice Cream Banana (tree) is a great way to get started. It comes in three different sizes, so you can choose which size works best for you. This tree company even has a warranty, in case your banana tree doesn’t arrive as expected. 

Now that you know a little more about growing your own banana tree, you can boost your banana tree’s health by using fertilizer. 

The Dr. Earth INC 756P Exotic Blend Palm, Tropical & Hibiscus Fertilizer is a perfect option. It is non-GMO and organic! It’s made in the USA and has amazing reviews of reviving plants that were on their last leg. 

That’s A Wrap!

By now, we hope you feel you know why banana bagging is important to quality fruit harvests. The next time someone brings up fruits, you’ll have lots of exceptional facts to share about why their fruit looks so good!

That was a lot of information at once, so let’s recap why they put bags on banana trees and how it works. 

Bags on banana trees help prevent infestations from insects, environmental damage, and damage from birds and other animals. 

Bagging is a physical practice that involves placing a bag over banana bunches at different stages of growth. 

Most banana bags used on commercial fruit farms are saturated with insecticides to protect bananas. When the insecticide-laden bags rub against the fruit, it helps prevent insect infestations from forming.

Banana bagging has been used for centuries. Banana leaves were wrapped around banana bunches to protect them from winter temperatures before the use of bags. 

There are a few different banana bags, which include transparent, blue polyethylene, half blue and half silver plastic, all-season bunch covers, and PP non-woven skirting bags.

These bags all have different purposes and are used depending on the use, location, and climate. 

If you live in a tropical climate or want to grow an indoor plant, well, you can grow your own banana tree! While it may not produce fruit, it’s still an amazing plant to have in your landscape or houseplant collection. 

Thanks for sticking around and reading with us and learning why they put bags on banana trees, and how they work!

References 

Amani, M., and G. Avagyan. “Effect of polyethylene bunch cover on fungal diseases control of banana (Musa acuminata L.) in Iran.” International Journal of Farming and Allied Sciences 3, no. 10 (2014): 1054-1057.

Damour, G., Garnier, E., Navas, M. L., Dorel, M., & Risede, J. M. (2015). Using functional traits to assess the services provided by cover plants: a review of potentialities in banana cropping systems. Advances in agronomy, 134, 81-133.

Pathak, Purnima, Kartik Baruah, and Bhupen Kumar Baishya. “Influence of bunch covers on appearance and maturity of banana cv. Jahaji under high density planting system.” Research on Crops 17, no. 3 (2016): 512-516.

RODRIGUES, M. G. V., SOUTO, R. F., & MENEGUCCI, J. L. (2001). Influence of polyethylene banana bunch cover for irrigated banana tree in the North of Minas Gerais state. Revista Brasileira de Fruticultura, 23, 559-562.

Santosh, D. T., Tiwari, K. N., & Reddy, R. G. (2017). Banana bunch covers for quality banana production-a review. Int J Curr Microbiol Appl Sci, 6(7), 1275-1291.

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