Cavendish Banana is in trouble

Roundup isn’t half as bad as people think it is, either. Another issue of public perception.


I have to disagree on this. Barring a catastrophic breakdown of civilization, I’m pretty sure bananas are going to be sold globally. They are essentially the top selling grocery product in America. I’m assuming they sell pretty well in Europe and around the world also. I think you are over estimating the practical appeal of “all local” economies. It’s something we all feel pressured into saying we are in support of, but everyone in the north would have very little variety of fruits and vegetables year round if we went this route.



we agree to disagree. I expect worldwide oil production to halve by 2050, and then halve again. Surely bananas are not such a needed item that the leftover oil needs to be spent on them. They are most certainly not irreplaceable, specially nutritionally, even with the modest northern selection of local vegetable foods.

True, but you’re asking markets to give up there very best seller of all fruits.
I myself say fix it with a GMO like papayas are now, seemed to work like a charm!

Once transport costs increase sufficiently, it will become not as good a seller. I will miss avocados, though.

I hope you’re wrong as my wife loves bananas and we would have to move to where we could get them. Not kidding. She has a medical condition that is greatly relieved by bananas. Other fruits work but nowhere near as well.

Just need to up your greenhouse game! If you can keep a greenhouse above ~18°F you should be able to grow hardy avocados. Bananas would require a bit more heat, though, not to mention even more tropical things like cacao.

Here’s my Dwarf Cavendish, about 9 months after planting as a 3 gal plant (and multi-graft avocado in the ground behind it to the right):

Hopefully that pathogen never finds its way to Seattle!


Something similar happened to Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania with Bayoud disease on date palm (Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. albedinis, close-relative to Panama disease “Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense”). and Morocco was badly affected by it, losing many varieties and genetic diversity, and they only been left with a few resistant varieties, but they’re of bad quality (or males) that people don’t accept.
(There is some breeding going on to improve and restore date palm varieties, and INRA provided a number of varieties from their breeding program (INRA-3014 is their best), but I think there’s more breeding & backcrossing to do)

I think CRISPR editing should be relied upon, it will really revolutionize the whole plant breeding. also the monoculture must stop.

Heck at some point, I wonder if you could engineer banana to be a dieback, root-hardy perennial that can ripen fruit in a single mid latitude growing season.

That’s scifi level but I’d be up for it.


Wondered if anyone heard anything recently about bananas and how they are doing? This is what i know Are Bananas Going Extinct? - AZ Animals

Are Bananas Going Extinct?

Written by Volia Nikaci

Published: August 17, 2022

Image Credit Yuri Dondish/

The banana is the most popular fruit in the world, along with its relative, the plantain. After all, bananas are delicious and sweet; how can we not love them? It’s hard to resist the sweet and filling taste of bananas! There is, however, some bad news looming on the horizon for banana lovers. Could it be possible that bananas are going extinct?

The Cavendish is the most common and abundant type of banana currently on the market. There was a time, however, when most bananas were Gros Michel type. However, by the early 1960s, they had all been replaced by the Cavendish. This is the banana we know and love today.

So, where did this great banana switch come from, and why did it happen? And what is the possibility that bananas are going extinct? Let’s explore the history of our beloved banana and why scientists believe that it could be going extinct.

The History Of The Gros Michel Banana (The Original Banana)

A sweet, creamy variety from Latin America called Gros Michel was the world’s most popular banana in the mid-1900s.


During the 1830s, bananas were shipped from the Caribbean to U.S. ports. As a result of better transportation modes, the food that was once exclusive became far more accessible. Until the late 1950s, Gros Michel bananas were the main banana variety sold in the United States, and their creamy texture and sweet flavor made them popular among banana lovers.

In fact, the Gros Michel bananas popularized bananas being consumed in areas where they could not be grown, and they played a big role in early international trade. Its thick skin prevented them from spoiling/bruising for long periods, allowing them to be exported around the globe until the early 20th century, boosting economies in several countries.

However, disaster would soon strike this delicious fruit! A fungus called Panama disease caused banana plants to wilt in the late 1800s. The fungus was named for its first major devastation in Panama, but it also devastated banana crops in Honduras, Suriname, and Costa Rica. Thousands of banana plantations were devastated by Panama disease, Race 1. Replanting banana trees on these infested soils was not possible.

As a result, bananas became extinct for the first time. That was when the Cavendish banana made its way into our grocery shelves and hearts!

The Cavendish Banana Reigns Supreme

Currently, the Cavendish is the only yellow banana variety mass-produced globally.


As the Panama disease continued to spread, it created widespread crop failure. This meant that the original Gros Michel banana needed to be replaced. As a result, the Gros Michel banana was replaced with the Cavendish banana, which is more disease-resistant. The Cavendish banana is the one you will find in grocery stores today. The Gros Michel banana was slightly thicker, straighter, and sweeter than the Cavendish banana.

Today, the Cavendish banana makes up 99% of banana exports. To save the banana industry, breeders began mass producing the asexually bred Cavendish. However, they appeared unaware that history was about to repeat itself. Similar to the Gros Michel banana, the Cavendish is facing extinction, and this is due to the lack of genetic diversity in Cavendish bananas. Each banana is essentially a clone of the other. We are experiencing this phenomenon due to monoculture, widespread practice in many farming industries.

What Is Monoculture Farming & Why Is It Used?

The banana plant is actually a herb, not a tree or palm.


In agriculture, monoculture farming involves growing only one type of crop at a time in a specific field. Monocultures are popular among industrial farmers because they help all crops grow similarly with minimal differences. This is critical for large-scale operations like growing bananas and shipping them out. This is because large Cavendish banana plantations are easier to spray with pesticides in mass quantities.

So what is the problem with monoculture farming? The production of monoculture crops is based on cloning rather than seeds. As a result, the crops are less able to fight off pathogens. When bananas are grown in monocultures, they are all at risk if a segment becomes infected with a disease. The same disease, fungus, or pest that kills one plant can kill all of them. This is exactly how the original Gros Michel banana went extinct. Monoculture farming is now causing the Cavendish banana to suffer from the same problem.

The genetic diversity in seeds produces a more irregular product but is also more resistant to disease. Because bananas are all clones, they are consistent in their flavor, predictable in how they ripen and turn the same color when ready to eat. However, those traits also make them a lot more vulnerable to disease.

The Cavendish Banana and Its Possible Extinction

So are bananas going extinct? It turns out that Tropical Race 4 (TR4), a newer strain of Panama Disease, has recently popped up. A banana plant with this disease dies from the bottom up, affecting its vascular system and preventing it from getting water. The banana industry could be wiped out if Tropical Race 4 isn’t stopped.

As a result of the current climate crisis, the Cavendish is suffering from this disease in full force. Black Sigatoka spreads more easily as temperatures rise and the weather becomes wetter in banana plantations. This disease is caused by a fungus and dates back to the 1900s. There is sadly no pesticide or other treatment that can stop Panama disease as of yet. So how can the banana be saved from extinction?

Well, several different options are currently being considered.

Saving The Banana From Extinction

As you can see, only the Gros Michel and the Cavendish made the manufacturing cut out of over 1,000 banana types worldwide. There are several reasons for this. Compared with other banana types, these two had the lowest shipping cost. They also had a longer shelf life as they didn’t bruise easily and had tough skin. On top of all of that, they also tasted great!

Moreover, many consumers feel comfortable purchasing these bananas because they are familiar with them. However, many other banana types are resistant to the TR4 disease. New banana mapping technology may allow researchers to examine the genetic makeup of other banana varieties for a TR4-resistant trait to add to the Cavendish.

Alternatively, bananas can be intercropped with other plants, or fewer bananas can be planted per plantation. Disease resistance can increase by reducing the number of disease-prone plants on a plot of land."

Here is a video describing the situation further on TR4.

There are many types of banana and not all can be infected with TR4

Little more about the business


There is so much misinformation in these drama-laced accounts of bananas I don’t know where to begin. The Gros Michael was not the 1st banana, except in the narrow perspective of fruit available in U.S. city markets in the past century. Nor is it extinct, I am growing it. The Cavendish is not a single cultivar but instead a race of banana - I am also growing one of them. Bananas are not trees but rather tropical bulbs which are neither annuals nor perennials. The historical issues with disease have to do with the cheap methods propagation and the generally exploitive nature of banana production for western markets.



This woman grows lots of bananas and has a down to earth approach when discussing them. She has hundreds of videos. Seems like something easy to grow here in a greenhouse. I like the idea of eating the flower and center of the old banana stock like they do in other parts of the world. The claim is they taste like cabbage.

Gros Michel is “commercially extinct” meaning no longer widely available in markets. It had much better flavor than Cavendish. Banana culture in general is in trouble because of one major issue, it is effectively a monoculture where a single variety is planted by the millions thereby leaving opportunity for a disease to wipe them out. We all should keep this example in mind as we grow other species of fruits and nuts. Narrow the genetic base too much and a single disease can wipe our plants out.

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I’ve heard that claim, but the only time I’ve tasted it (from a “banana box” from Miami Fruit with samples of about 10 banana varieties), it seemed pretty much the same as Cavendish, just a little smaller. There were other bananas in the box that tasted much better IMO. I think there’s a bit of nostalgia involved in the claims about Gros Michel in particular. It was definitely “creamier” texture, though.

But the broader point that there are tons of better tasting bananas than Cavendish is absolutely true, and it’s a real shame commercial growers don’t diversify more.

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Cavendish is a race of bananas with many cultivars. I am growing one which, when grown in the tropics has a taste rivaling Gros Michael. It is sold commercially outside the U.S. It is about 2/3 the length of a “U.S.” banana but about equal in weight.

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It has little to do with the growers, but instead the importers and packing houses who contract for crops.

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This is common among banana farm laborers – who are paid very little and have few other options for food.

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