Banana management in the Ord River Irrigation Area

Page last updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2023 - 11:15am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA) is suitable for growing bananas. However, due to the local climate, management is slightly different to other Western Australian growing regions such as Carnarvon.

There are many considerations when planning to establish a banana plantation. A summary of these practices is given below. For more specific information on each practice see the links.

Many decisions need to be made when planning a banana plantation. The Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA) has some specific requirements such as planting density because of local climatic conditions.

Topics for consideration are:

  • Propagation - tissue culture
  • Nutrient management
  • Irrigation and soil management
  • Planting and layout
  • Risk management
  • Pests and diseases.
Pre-planting practices
Local practice Method Guidelines Timing/frequency

Pre-wet season ripping

Diagonally Once, pre-planting

Post-wet season ripping Across planting lines Once, pre-planting


Drainage Roadside drains Laser levelling to collect run-off from blocks At road formation and block cultivation
Land levelling Laser levelling Slope 1:500 After ploughing
Bed formation Flat top beds ~25cm high Once only, after ploughing
Soil analysis

20 plugs/ha,

0-15cm depth

Prior to planting, after cultivation
Pre-plant weed control Ploughing


Herbicide spray Stomp® As needed
Planting practices
Local practice Method Guidelines
Plant materials Bits or tissue-cultured plantlets Use mechanised bit planter
Layout Plant density at planting 1400-1500/ha

Row spacing 2.5-3m, single rows
Post-planting practices
Local practice Method Guidelines Timing/frequency
Weed management Ploughing

As required


Inter-row areas

Spraying With tractor or knapsack in inter-rows Glyphosate,
SpraySeed®, Surflan (pre-emergent)
Sucker management De-suckering

Kerosene gun, spray side of sucker or cut tops and spray kerosene.

(There is currently no chemical in WA registered for de-suckering.)

About 5-7 times per year

Sucker selection 2 suckers per parent corm

Orientation of follower suckers

Opposite sides of parent stem

Timing of follower sucker selection


Look for uniform size suckers

Feb/Mar, Oct/Nov

Bunch management Bunch covers on emerged bunches At finger curl stage, one cover per bunch with colour-coded tags to record date and addess maturity. Manually placed. Weekly inspections

Bunch trimming Leave 7-9 hands per bunch, break off bell and lower hands.

Insect blocks in bunch cover for sugarcane bud moth and russet mite One block of chlorpyifos.

Trash management Banana trash Windrowed in sprinkler line or placed in inter-row, cut to aid decomposition At de-leafing, de-suckering, bunch trimming
Harvesting and processing stages
Local practice Method Guidelines Timing/frequency
Maturity assessment Based on bunch covers, records and fruit diameter

Harvest team

1 cutter, 2 carriers

Transport To shed Bunches upright on cushioned trailer

De-handing and packing Trough and wheel system Forced water trough Bunches washed, de-handed and placed into trough. De-sapping occurs in trough.

Packing wheel to grade bananas for packing Sorters sort, grade and transfer fruit to packing wheel.

Grading and quality control Cartons packed to 13.5-13.75kg. Three grades: extra large, large and medium

More information can be found in the Agriculture Western Australia Horticulture Research Report 1994-1998, Frank Wise Institute, Kununurra, and Banana offtypes, An illustrated guide, QDPI. Information sourced from Harmill S and Smith M. Use tissue culture to introduce banana plants to your farm without pest and disease. DPI, Nambour. Bananatopics, vol 30.