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Quality is a concern in all aspects of banana production,

but harvesting and post-harvest stage is also most


Characteristics of Good Quality Hands:

√ No or very few
blemishes, spots
or bruises;

photo by Bioversity International

√ No malformed or
fingers; and

√ No missing or
cut-off fingers
between existing fingers.


Time of Harvesting

Banana harvesting depends on:

√ The distance where the fruit is to be consumed or


• For the local or nearby market: bananas should be

harvested a few days before they ripen.

• For far-away markets: bananas must be picked

less mature (but to attain natural sweetness, fruits
must be harvested at a mature stage).

Harvest and Post harvest
√ Processing: fruits that will be processed into chips can
be harvested at an earlier stage than fruits that are
intended for the fresh market.

Fruit maturity

The maturity of the fruits can be

assessed from:

√ The fruit color and the

photo by Bioversity International

angularity or fullness of the

• For local markets or home

consumption - Harvest
when the fruits are fully
filled and turning from
green to yellow.
• For far-away markets - Harvest the fruits when they
are less mature, when they are still green with
plainly visible angles.
• These indicators depend also on the variety as
some are still green or still angular even when fully

√ The number of days from flower emergence - color

codings applied during bagging are helpful in the
assessment of the maturity.

√ A combination of grade and fruit age - At a certain time

after flowering, check all the bunches with the same
color code and check the grade of the fruits with a

Harvest and Post harvest
• When any of the three fingers in the center of the
outer whorl of the 2nd hand from the top fail to
enter the caliper or when they enter with difficulty,
the bunch is ready for harvest.

• The bunches that are not ready for harvest are

checked again one week later.

• The 3rd week, the bunches are harvested anyway,

regardless whether the fruits pass the caliper or

Harvesting Operation
In harvesting, it is
necessary to follow
these tips:

1. Avoid injury
or damage to
photo by Bioversity International
the fingers,
since this
leads to
patches and
2. In dry
periods, don’t stop irrigating the plants at least one
week before harvest, since it reduces fruit quality
and shelf life.
3. Harvest the bunches preferably in the morning.
4. Harvesting is best done by two persons – A
“cutter” who will cut the pseudostem and a
“backer” who will carry the bunch:

Harvest and Post harvest
• The cutter cuts the trunk slowly and partially at
about 1/3 from the
top, for the bunch
to fall slowly.

• The cutter holds

the tail end of the
bunch before it
touches the

• The cutter then

photo by Bioversity International

cuts the peduncle,
leaving about 30
cm of the stalk for
easy handling.

• The bunch is
lowered on a
Handling of newly har-
shoulder pad on
vested bananas
the shoulder of the

5. Do not place the bunch on the ground or against a

banana plant, to avoid bruising the hands.

6. Leave at least 2 m of pseudostem standing for 1 to

2 months as a reservoir for water and nutrients for
the following sucker.

7. Cut off the leaves that directly shade or obstruct

the follower.

8. After 1 to 2 months, cut the old pseudostem and

leaves, chop lengthwise and crosswise into small
pieces and use as mulch.

Harvest and Post harvest
Post-harvest Care
Transport from field to packing house

• Bring the
bunches or
hands to a
shaded area

photo by Bioversity International

soon after
In commercial
plantations -
aerial cables or
trailers are
used to
transport the
bunches to the Transporting newly harvested bananas
packing area.
banana growers sometimes de-hand bunches right in
the field.

• Cover the fruits with leaves to prevent scalding by the


• During dry periods, spray the bunches with water (pre


• Handle the bunches and fruits with care - leaves or

plastic sheets can be used to cushion the fruits to
minimize rubbing and bruising.

• Closely pack the bunches, so there is no space for

shaking during transport.

• Ensure adequate ventilation during transport.

Harvest and Post harvest 5

Deflowering, dehanding, washing, sorting and packing

These operations are done mainly for bananas intended for

export, but also significantly improve quality of bananas for
the local market.

• Remove the floral parts from the fingers, within 2 to 3

minutes before cutting the hands off the stem to keep
the latex from drying and causing spots.

• In removing the hand from the stem, leave as much

crown as possible to the hand.

• Carefully hold the detached hand by supporting the

whole hand and not just holding one or a few fingers,
which may break the neck.

• Carefully place the hands in a tank filled with clean

water with 10 ppm chlorine (to keep the water free from

• Make sure the hands do not strike against each other or

the side of the tank.

• Wash off any dirt and spores of fungi adhering to the


• Transfer the hands to another tank, where they are

selected and sorted.

• Separate fruits with bruises, scabs, scars and oversized,

undersized or malformed fingers.

• Kalium aluminium sulfaat can be sprayed or sponged

onto the fruits to control fungi and to prevent latex flow.

6 Harvest and Post harvest

Bananas for local
market should be

photo by Bioversity International

packed in wooden
crates, lined with
newspapers or plastic
sheets. Bamboo
baskets should be
avoided as much as
possible, since they
can easily be
deformed, are unstable and have sharp edges that can
damage the fruits.

Bananas for export should be packed in carton boxes

with holes (2.5 cm in diameter) for ventilation. The boxes
must have cardboard or foam at the bottom and lined with
thin polyethylene films. Hands must be separated by
cardboard or foam to prevent bruising.

• Cooling the fruits in optimum storage conditions (13
to 14°C and 95% relative humidity) is the most
effective way of prolonging shelf life, storing below
the optimum temperature will result in chilling injury.

• Fruits may also be stored at ambient conditions

with a modified atmosphere by:
- Sealing the fruits in polyethylene bags before
packing them in cartons.
- Using ethylene absorbents in the boxes (clay-
ash chips dipped in saturated potassium
permanganate (KMnO4) at 2 chips per kg fruit).

Harvest and Post harvest
• Combination of low temperature and modified
atmosphere increases the storage life more and
minimizes the occurrence of chilling injury.

• Embedding the fruits in moist sawdust (1 kg of sawdust

mixed with 1.5 liters of water for 1 hand weighing 2 kg)
can delay ripening by one month.

Ripening and Degreening

The optimum temperature for ripening is 25 ± 2°C. Using

ethylene helps in ripening bananas. There are two ways to
use ethylene:

• It can be generated or released at a concentration of

500 to 1,000 ppm inside a closed room at a
temperature of 25°C and 80 to 90% RH.

• It can be sprayed or used to dip the fruits in 500 to

1,000 ppm, but leaves residue on the fruits.
photo by Bioversity International

Bananas ready for ripening

8 Harvest and Post harvest

I Van den Bergh, I. and A. B. Molina (eds). 2007. A basket full of options for
sustainable banana production in Asia and the Pacific: A manual for banana
growers and extension workers. Bioversity International Asia-Pacific Office,
Philippines. 137 pp.

Harvest and Post harvest

This brochure was prepared by the Agricultural Training
Institute and Bioversity International - Asia-Pacific Office

Technical Advisers: Agustin B. Molina Jr., PhD (Bioversity International)

Evelyn Aro-Esquejo, PhD (ATI)
Asterio P. Saliot, MNSA (ATI)

Technical Support Staff: Vida Grace O. Sinohin (Bioversity International)

Jeffrey T. Oliver (Bioversity International)

Layout and Design: Kristina Mae R. Ombao (ATI)

Managing Editor: Polly Michelle Q. Cunanan (ATI)

Editor: Antonieta J. Arceo (ATI)

Subject Matter Specialists: Pool of experts from Bioversity International

This brochure is one part of the five brochures contained in A Guide to Banana
Production prepared and produced by the Agricultural Training Institute, GMA-
HVCC Program and Bioversity International.

Copyright 2007
For more information, write or call:

Knowledge Products Management Division GININTUANG MASAGANANG ANI

ATI Bldg., Elliptical Rd., Diliman, Quezon City 4th Floor Department of Agriculture
Trunkline: (63-2) 929-8541 to 49 local 255, 258 Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City
Fax Number: (63-2) 920-97-92 Website:
Website: Email: Telefax: (63-2) 9279460

Office for Asia and the Pacific
3/F, Khush Hall, IRRI
College, Laguna, Philippines
Telephone Number: (63-49) 536-0532

Harvest and Post harvest