Cavendish Banana is in trouble

The Cavendish Banana has a problem which is that they are all clones of each other. That sounds OK until a disease pops up targeting a specific clone. On my farm I designed it using many different rootstocks. This story about the Cavendish explains why I did that. Many think I might be over reacting growing different rootstocks and trees and even genetically unique fruit but this has all happened before with bananas. In the 1950s a disease called Panama disease became a problem wiping out the farms that grew the banana called Gros Michel

You might be interested to know there are over 1000 types of bananas. 500 types of bananas are edible.

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The researcher featured in that first video is very active on twitter (and TikTok, I gather), one of the more interesting accounts that I follow on there:

https://twitter.com/Ferchucky

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That is a issue with many fruit as we know them now. I remember reading a post on here about scion survival time based on the OG tree. Basically no matter what the fruit as we know it will have to be replaced at one point. Either it may be something like the banana due to disease because they are all clones or the grafted varieties died because the OG tree wood got too old. It is a grim thought to think about. At the same time I think it offers more diversity in the future. While my local Costco offers the same old fruit of either a California grown peaches for example my King Soopers (Kroger) has expanded. My King Soopers now offers donut peaches (all be it 3 dollars a pound), white and gold peaches. For other stone fruit my King Soopers offers pluots, pluerry, plums, cherries etc. For oranges they offer sumo mandarins, blood oranges, Cara Cara Oranges etc. My hope would be as the old varieties go away they turn to better varieties. We have all heard about how apples like Red Delicious were the only apples in the market and now we have Fuji, Honeyscrisp, Granny Smith etc. Yet we still have many unnamed peach, nectarine and cherry varieties, I only see two types of pears. The Bartlett pear is really old at this point so you wonder how long some of these varieties will last.

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Bartlett has a problem with fire blight and with storage and transport to market. It has one foot on a banana peel already.

I disagree with grafting to preserve disease susceptible varieties. That is not where the market is moving. It is moving toward direct DNA manipulation. As an example, we are already capable of assembling a ‘cassette’ of R genes for potato. Insert that cassette into an existing high quality potato and voila you have the most disease resistant highest quality potato that has ever existed. With Crispr, the genes can be taken from one potato and inserted into another in the exact place on the chromosome as where they came from. In other words, it will be like breeding a better potato but done with gene insertion. This can reduce thousands of generations of hand breeding to a single generation.

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Problem is public perception of gmo products. Hopefully that will change over time. Doesn’t help that most commonly known gmo were modified to have roundup sprayed directly on them

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@GeorgiaGent

Must admit I’d rather not eat their gmo stuff when given a choice.

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McDonald’s wanted to use the gmo potato years ago but a lot of bad press “Frankenfood” headlines and they nixed. So instead of this disease resistant potato (with genes from a wild relative) instead we keep spraying thousands of pounds of poison into the soil to keep fungus off the weaker potato. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

I believe citrus greening will be defeated by taking the resistant gene from finger limes and putting into other citrus. This is better than blanketing them with chemical sprays no?

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I was reading about the Cavendish banana issues a few years ago. They were hoping it would subside but they knew it probably would not.
The article I read mentioned that the old candy that was banana tasting is based on the banana taste of the prior extinct banana that the Cavendish banana replaced.

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My coworker went to Kenya for his geology field studies. They had a bunch of different banana varieties there. He said the best ones were a tiny one he’d never seen before. If we lose this variety, there are many more out there, we as a society just need to figure out how to make it happen.

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If some of you want to try red ones or icecream bananas or a host of others plenty of nurseries sell them. A friend of mine buys at Willis but ive heard mixed reviews. https://willisorchards.com/category/banana-trees?gclid=CjwKCAiA9aKQBhBREiwAyGP5lWFS4r2QwzET-OyO1G6fBHZGBe9CT9x-SBGWS4_ZpSxeoj87dBCnfBoCTNsQAvD_BwE#.VaPM8flVhBc

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Does anyone grow banana indoors? I had a banana (unknown variety) that my coworker was growing and he gave me a sucker. It grew for several years but it suddenly collapsed and died. I’m considering getting a new one.

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I’m definitely against chemical sprays in general. I’m opposed to inter species genetic modification. I don’t think I’d be opposed to intra species genetic modification. It’ a form of warp speed selective breeding.

This surprised me: (from the Modern Farmer article linked above):

"To date, the molecular mechanisms of graft formation remain unknown, and no genes required for this process have been identified,” reads one scientific article from 2015

Agree. When I was in Brazil no one would think of eating a Cavendish and anyway you could not find them. If you want to cook them plantains are so much better, and if you want to eat them raw there are dozens of better varieties. As economies become more local, there will be fewer bananas in northern supermarkets, so this may be a non issue long term, in that the Cavendish market will wither.

I’ve been seeing that article - or others just like it, heralding the demise of Cavendish - for well over 20 years now.

Hysteria over GMO… the vast majority of people know more about Harry Potter and the wonders of wizardry than they know or understand about agriculture, biology, or science of any kind. But they vote. And exert power over policy with their shouting.

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While there a ton of different banana varieties out there and I would bet most are suitable for hobbyists, many of these would not be commercial successes. This is due to things like not storing well, easily damaged, an appearance that does not appeal to finicky US customers, etc.

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That final requirement is the one that always infuriates me for all sorts of fruits and annual crops. Large farms have spent many decades (over a century?) focusing on cultivars that are uniform and look like some ideal, and have basically trained the last few generations of customers to care about that instead of realizing that sometimes the cultivars of fruit and veggies that taste best are less uniform in appearance.

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A lot of that happened in the last 60-80 years. As a society, we were trained to like and expect perfect fruit and vegetables, a perfect lawn, fast cars, etc. A lot of this is wasteful if not down right destructive. I’ll admit, when I’m picking through apples, I’ll put the ones with a big bruise back. Small imperfections are ok, but not big ones.

To make up for some of these wasteful practices, I try to compost most of our food waste (although the bin is full and I’m not adding anything else to it right now), I ripped out our front lawn and like many hear, I try to grow a significant amount of vegetables and fruit at home, at least during the summer.

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When I have an over abundance of a fruit I’ll take some to work and most coworkers won’t take “real” figs, pomegranates, blackberries etc. that aren’t perfect like grocery store fruit. Another co-worker who grew up rural told them “this is real fruit!” I just laugh . D