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Banana growers urged to embrace shade nets
Ashleigh Telford Banana expert John Robinson with DAFWA's Chris Schelfhout

Carnarvon banana growers have been advised by a visiting banana consultant to embrace shade netting to increase yields.

South African researcher John Robinson spent a week on Carnarvon’s banana plantations and in packing sheds to meet with growers and observe growing techniques.

Mr Robinson said, like all horticultural areas, there were limitations to growing bananas in Carnarvon.

Some factors, like the winter temperatures, labour costs and water salinity, were out of the growers’ control, but others, like mitigating wind damage, were not.

Mr Robinson said the horticultural precinct in Carnarvon was similar to that of the Jordan Valley, with the main difference being Jordan Valley bananas are grown almost exclusively under shade nets.

As a result, he said, the yields in that area have increased by about 25 to 30 per cent.

“The capital outlay is high,” he said.

“But you don’t get the leaf stripping and there’s an enormous potential for a high yield.

“Water use is decreased by 30 per cent, because of less evaporation under netting.”

He said there was a possibility shade netting could reduce the harm from pests such as locusts.

The Department of Food and Agriculture WA’s Gascoyne Research Station was trialling growing bananas under shade with encouraging results.

DAFWA project manager Chris Schelfhout said the bunches from the palms under the shade netting were significantly better than those they were growing exposed.

Mr Schelfhout said they had bunches of up to 100kg coming out of the trial area.

ASHLEIGH TELFORD