Bananas are one of the most popular fruit in the world. If you are lucky enough to have a banana tree of your own, you may wonder when to pick the bananas.
Banana plants are not actually trees but large herbs with succulent, juicy stems that arise from a fleshy corm. Suckers continually spring up around the main plant with the oldest sucker replacing the main plant as it fruits and dies. Smooth, oblong to elliptical, fleshy stalked leaves unfurl in a spiral around the stem. A terminal spike, the inflorescence, shoots out from the heart in the tip of the stem. As it opens, clusters of white flowers are revealed. Female flowers are borne on the lower 5-15 rows and males upon the upper rows. As the young fruit, technically a berry, develop, they form slender green fingers which grow into a “hand” of bananas that droops due to its weight until the bunch is upside down.
When to Pick Bananas
The size of the fruit varies depending upon the variety of banana, so isn’t always a good indicator for picking bananas.
Generally, banana tree harvesting can commence when the fruit on the upper hands are changing from dark green to a light greenish yellow and the fruit is plump.
Banana stalks take 75-80 days from flower production to mature fruit.
Before picking bananas, look for “hands” of fruit that are filled out with no prominent angles, are light green and with flower remnants that are easily rubbed off.
The fruit will generally be 75% mature, but bananas can be cut and used at different stages of ripeness and even green ones can be cut and cooked much like plantains.