CRF Blog

Hope for the Banana

by Bill Hayes

The banana is under siege. In Genome sequencing gives a boost to pest-plagued fruit, the Los Angeles Times explains.

The stacks of plump yellow fruit on supermarket shelves belie the mortal threat bananas of all types are facing.

Fungal spores borne by the wind blight the plants with black leaf streak disease, causing 50% crop losses if plantations aren’t sprayed weekly with fungicides.

Making matters worse, Fusarium mold in the soil is drying plants to death from the inside in a scourge known as Panama disease. There is no treatment.

A new strain of Panama disease — Race 4 — is poised to wipe out the Cavendish dessert banana we know so well, just as Panama Race 1 deep-sixed its commercial predecessor, Gros Michel, in the 1950s and 1960s. [more]