The Story of the Banana

Oct 24, 2012 by

The Story of the Banana by the United Fruit Company was originally published in 1921 and is a fascinating look into the history of the cultivation of one of the world’s favorite foods.

Chapters include:
Early History,Principal Species, The Plant, The Fruit Itself, Where Grown, Scope of the Modern Plantation, Developing the New Plantation, Harvesting the Banana, Transporting the Fruit to the Loading Port, Loading the Banana Cargo, The Banana Steamship, Discharging the Banana Cargo, Banana Shipments by Rail to Interior Points, Selling the Banana, Handling by the Jobber. Banana Rooms, Handling by the Retailer, and Food Value of the Banana.

And a few lines about how to choose the right land for your banana grove:

“The first and most important step is the selection of the land. Many factors must be considered, such as climate, soil, rainfall, drainage, liability to damage by floods and hurricanes and the feasibility of securing labor and supplying transportation. The plantation is developed from virgin land, covered, as a rule, with forest and a dense tropical undergrowth. After the land has been selected and the surveying and drainage ditches completed, it is underbrushed, lined and staked, after which it is ready for planting. Underbrushing, as the name implies, consists in chopping down the undergrowth with cutlasses(“machetes”! so that one may move about freely between the trees.

Lining and staking consist in carefully laying out and marking the land with stakes set at the distance at which it is intended to plant the bananas, so that the young plantation will have regularity and orderliness. The distance between the stakes varies according to soil and climatic conditions. In Central America the planting distance is usually from 18 to 24 feet each way and in Cuba and Jamaica, owing to the small growth of the tree, about 12 by 12 feet. As the plantation develops, the underground rootstocks send up new suckers, or young plants, on all sides of the original plant. Only a few of these young plants are allowed to develop to maturity, but in an old plantation each hill, or mat, consists of from half a dozen to a dozen plants standing more or less closely in an area which may be several feet in diameter; thus the alignment of a young plantation is gradually lost and the rows become irregular.”

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