Too many bananas

ducasse banana bunch on tree
A challenging bunch of bananas

We love our home-grown bananas (especially if they are Ducasse, as these are), but they can be challenging at times.

This bunch was a challenge because it was too high and much too heavy to cut down safely: more than 200 individual bananas, all pleasingly plump, with a total weight anywhere between 20 and 40 kilos, hanging from a very tall plant, high enough so that the bottom of the bunch was just reachable from the top of a step-ladder.

The bunch was ready to pick but hadn’t started ripening. They weren’t mine but I was consulted on what to do about them.

We obviously needed to get them down safely but then what could we do with 200 bananas all ripening at once? As I said years ago, we usually share big bunches with family and friends but this many?

Once any fruit on a bunch start ripening, the rest follow very quickly, and ripening is often triggered by damage to the fruit, e.g., by possum attack. With this in mind, I suggested a staggered harvesting technique which I have successfully used before, dealing with both issues at once.

Teetering on the top of the ladder with the stalk below the bunch in one hand, I forced secateurs into the stalk above the lowest hand and snipped, freeing one hand (over a dozen bananas) and not quite falling off the ladder. And again. Got down, divided the spoils (finder’s fee; thanks anyway!) and went home.

A week later, the same again – and yet again, a few days later. But it couldn’t last, and the next time I called around it was to find the rest of the bunch turning yellow. At that stage we had no choice but to cut the whole lot down, but of course the bunch was only two-thirds the size by then and we managed without any great difficulty or damage. Mission accomplished!

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