How to Harvest Bananas

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Introduction: How to Harvest Bananas

When you live in or visit a place where bananas grow wild, you should know how to harvest them yourself. The hard part is finding the bananas. One good place to look is Hawaii. These bananas are sprouting across the stream from my mom's house. Pics by Pam and me.

Step 1: Assess the Terrain

As you approach your banana patch, look for the bananas you may want to harvest. It can be harder to see them from inside the trees.

Step 2: Choose Your Bananas

When harvesting bananas, you want either a stalk that is already ripening, i.e., yellow, or a stalk that is still green but has stopped growing. When this is the case the flower is usually dying and the bananas themselves have plumped out of their young rectangular shape. These bananas are ready to come down.

Step 3: Prepare the Ground

Harvesting bananas involves chopping down the whole tree. The tree will die anyway once it's fruited, and lives on through "keiki" (Hawaiian for children) that sprout up alongside it. Once you've cut down the tree, it's hard to look under it for anything good. So before beginning, pick up any ripe bananas that have fallen down.

In our case, there was a pig hole right next to the tree, so the pig ate most of the yummy ripe ones. We picked up the rest.

My mom is much smaller than this hole. She's checking out the giant pig tracks with her little sickle. Hawaiian wild boars are black, hairy, and very tasty. They also make great pets if you can teach them fear, which they don't know instinctively.

My mom is also wearing tabis ("tobbies"), the Japanese reefwalkers fishermen use. These are great for muddy hikes or crossing streams. They cost $25 in your local Japanese fishing store.

Step 4: Prepare the Air

Places where bananas thrive are bound to be covered in vines, which can screw up your plans for the tree's descent. So clear any vines away before you chop your banana tree down. My mom is using that little sickle again. Don't misplace your sickle when the tree comes down. She did.

Step 5: Chop Down the Tree

Now for the fun part! One person will need to chop down the tree, while another person waits down wind to catch the falling stalk. Otherwise your bananas get busted. Luckily, banana trees are easy to cut through. All you need is one of these machetes and a few whacks.

My mom had her spine fused, so I'll be catching the tree while she whacks it.

Remember not to hurt the keikis! Those are your future banana harvests.

Step 6: Catch!

The trees aren't very heavy so they usually fall slow enough to catch them. Here I am holding it up while my mom comes to cut the stalk off. Hold the flower end in one hand and cut through the other.

Step 7: Shipping and Handling

Now you have your bananas. But you have to get back across that stream to get home. Carrying a whole banana stalk can be tiring, and that sap really stains your clothes. So cut your stalk into "hands," like what they sell in the grocery store.

Step 8: Carry Them Off

Like I said, that sap really stains. So pack the bananas in a plastic bag inside your backpack.

Step 9: Mahalo

Don't forget to kiss your mom. She is really cool and teaches you lots of stuff. But don't cut your finger! My mom cuts herself every time she goes after bananas. I guess she's just really excited. Yum!

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49 Discussions

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kecap

2 years ago

you are so beautiful .. hmm

Great instructable. I wish I had a banana palm! There are a few around Dubai (in people's gardens), but it wouldn't be very nice to go stealing the bananas they had been waiting all year to harvest! I wouldn't mind (and I doubt they would mind too much either), if I stole a frond to plant and make another banana palm. That's the only way to grow a new palm, because the banana has been GMed without seeds. Does anyone know how to do it... or do you just shove a palm frond in the ground and wait for it to take root? :-P

3 replies

You cannot clone a banana tree with only a leaf. The best way to do it is to find the baby trees shooting up from the root area of the mature tree. Cut the shoot from the mother tree being sure to go deep enough to get some of the roots. Replant the baby tree in well watered, well drained soil with partial sunlight. After a month or two when the new tree has taken root in its new home, full sunlight is best. This small sapling will grow to become a full tree and if you give it plenty of water it will sprout shoots of its own to grow more trees even before it produces fruit. Once the tree gives its bananas, its life cycle is over. Harvest and chop down the tree to make room for its babies. Eventually, that tiny tree will become an entire grove of banana trees. Depending on how much space you have in your yard, it may be best to dig up the healthiest trees, rip out the entire root ball and replant those salvaged trees in fresh soil. I live in Maui and have a number of different varieties of bananas planted around my outdoor shower. They love the phosphorous that soaks into the soil from my soap and shampoo, and I love eating bananas. Happy planting!

8 yrs later - still using your post. Thanks for the great quick summary. I had heard the "end of life after producing fruit" info from a friend of mine from his time in Puerto Vallarta. It's good to get a confirmation as I am about to make the first harvest from the plant in my back yard. I am just outside Houston, TX.

I only noticed the 3 or 4 "rows" of fruit when I swam up on a big purple flower petal in my pool. I wondered where it came from - I looked up and voila' bananas hanging on a long "pony-tail" off a big stem.

Will be making a banana tree growing guide soon what state do you live in? Because if you are in the southwest or tropics you are in luck!

AnthonyW23 you crack me up! I have BANANA TREES and they grow BANANAS IN BUNCHES and we pick and eat them! LOL my BANANA TREE is about 18 feet TALL.

This is a cool toturial except bananas don't grow on trees, they grow on banana plants.

Wow! Thanks for the informative guide. I needed info on whether or not our bananas are ready to harvest. Ours aren't plumped up enough judging by the ones in your photos. We live in Florida, so your Hawaiian environment was super exotic. Loved it all. You and your Mom are too cool. Thanks again.

hello, good morning,
i have a banana tree in my home a bulb grows in the tree then the bulb convert into banana stalk with a hanging purple flower in which more banana bulbs appears in little long flowers.
our actual problem is that when the bulb flower grows as well as fall down and it is the main cause that i cant get the stalk properly
please tell me what is the disease and how i get the fruit on tree
Rajesh Kumar Agarwal

You and your mom are very cute. I guess the banana doesn't fall far from the tree!

What is the period of growth and when it should cut down. stage wise.

I have been told by my extremely old grandfather who used to do a lot of fruit farming in the 20's that you can cut an apple in half and put it in a sack with the banannas to get them to ripen quickly. Never tried it because I never had a banana tree that had fruit on it. The only way to get a banana was to goto the store and get one. Does any one know if this is true or not... I never questioned it till I read some of the comments about putting them in a dark place.

2 replies

Apples and other fruit release ethelene gas and will ripen fruit. Comercial growers use the gas to ripen the fruit (they pick it green). I use the apples for bananas, avacados, papayas, anything but citrus. BTW I live in south Florida and my yard is full of all kinds of tropical fruit, flowers and orchids.

Your grandfather was right. Putting an apple in a bag with the bananas can ripen them within hours, with or without darkness. I found this out (to my detriment) when I missed putting away a plastic sack of groceries. Several hours later, I opened the bag to find that my green bananas had turned nearly black with spots. To keep bananas from ripening so quickly, put each banana at least a foot away from any other piece of fruit, including its other banana friends. In my kitchen, that means one banana per cannister, and two on the microwave. The bananas last for 6-7 days, way up from the previous 2-3 (except for the apple debacle). It never fails to start a conversation, either. "Why are you arranging your bananas all over the kitchen?"

it only involves cutting the tree down if you don't find a tree with the fruit low to the ground

After seeing blood I'm willing to pay the $0.70 per lb at the store;) Did you guys chopped the hole banana plant to get the bananas?

I wouldn't want to mess w/ your mom. she's buff and carries a lot of knives. lol