Cold Hardy Fruit Banana Project


Which exotic enthusiast in the colder countries of the world does not already dream about one cold hardy fruit banana, which is as hardy as Musa basjoo and can overwinter with the same winter protection method like Musa basjoo outdoors and does product edible fruits like Musa 'Dwarf Cavendish' or 'Nanica'??

Until now only Musa basjoo is truly hardy with winter protection to keep the pseudotrunks by one good winter protection to get the possiblity to flower and fruit. Even in Southern Sweden one Musa basjoo has already flowered in the garden of Leif Klingström in Ängelholm! However the fruits don’t mature in Germany. Even in Ticino in Southern Switzerland the seeds of Musa basjoo will still mature and become fertile, although the fruits are staying green yet and are bitter and dry in the taste. Also I managed to grow one Musa basjoo from seed. This proves, that Musa basjoo can be grown from seed like Musa sikkimensis, 'Helen's Hybrid', balbisiana, cheesmani, yunnanensis, itinerans, nagensium and xishuangbannaensis.

Indeed Musa sikkimensis and 'Helen's Hybrid' have edible and sweet fruits despite of containing seeds, but they aren’t as hardy as Musa basjoo and its pseudotrunks do survive only unusually mild northern winters like 1988/89, 2006/07 and 2007/08 in Germany with a very good winter protection. They might only flower and fruit with heated winter protection in Germany and other colder countries of the world. Musa balbisiana has already survived in the "Kölner Flora" (botanical garden) in Cologne in Germany with good winter protection for several years, does come back every year only from the corms and its pseudotrunks die back despite of the winter protection regulary to the ground. To reach the long term surival of Musa sikkimensis, 'Helen's Hybrid' and balbisiana, only mature plants with already partly woody corms with suckers should be outplanted and obtain one heated winter protection if necessary. Musa cheesmani and nagensium are also not as very hardy as Musa basjoo. Musa yunnanensis, xishuangbannaensis and itinerans are also less hardy than Musa basjoo, its cold hardiness could be improved only by one cross with Musa basjoo. In the past years however some new Musa species were also discovered in the Chinese highlands, which might similar in the appearance to Musa acuminata and approximately as hardy as Musa basjoo, are only in the description and aren’t introducted to Europe, U. S. A. and Brazil yet.

Also Musa 'Orinoco', 'Prata' alias 'Dwarf Brazilian', 'Ice Cream' and 'Dwarf Orinoco' belong to the cold tolerant fruit bananas, but they are not as very hardy as Musa basjoo, even less hardy than Musa sikkimensis. However Mrs. Ingrid Kolontaj in Cologne in Germany (only in German) has overwintered one fruit banana of the type like 'Orinoco' by heated winter protection successfully and has supposedly already harvested riped fruits. However the winter protection is heated by thermostat controlled heating cables, so that its pseudotrunk does survive. But not everyone can manage financally to heat one less hardy fruit banana during the winter outdoors, because the power costs are increasing every year and it’s one energy wastage and does cost more. Therefore one fruit banana with the same cold hardiness like Musa basjoo or with one better cold hardiness will be better, it might be even eco-friendlier!

To get cold hardy fruit bananas, Musa basjoo should be crossed with Musa sikkimensis, 'Helen's Hybrid', 'FHIA-01', 'FHIA-18' and 'FHIA-21'. Musa basjoo, sikkimensis and 'Helen's Hybrid' are diploid, 'FHIA-01', 'FHIA-18' and 'FHIA-21' tetraploid. And the cultivars 'FHIA-01', 'FHIA-18' and 'FHIA-21' are disease resistant, the last both are also available in Brazil. Are they are crossed with Musa basjoo, seedless triploid fruit bananas will be created, which also will be nearly as hardy as Musa basjoo and as disease resistant as the FHIA cultivars, if the crosses do work. But one cross Musa basjoo x sikkimensis might be similar to Musa x paradiesacea in the fruit quality, but much cold hardier than Musa acuminata x balbisiana, but the fruits are still containing seeds. But how to get hardy bananas with seedless fruits? Seedlessness is called as parthenocarpy.

So far as the theory, however triploid and diploid types also were crossed together successfully, in Brazil were Musa 'Prata' (AAB) and 'Pacovan' (AAB) used to cross with Musa 'M53' (AA), thereby several new disease resistant tetraploid (AAAB) types like Musa 'Japira' and 'Vitória' came up. By fertilization Musa 'Prata' does form some fertile seeds in ist fruits, which are used to germinate.

Already in the 1930s Musa basjoo was crossed with Musa 'Mysore' successfully. In each of the 10 bunches was one seed found, total 10 seeds were found and 5 of them were germinated and yielded viable and healthy plants. This cross seemed never introducted to the market and also never tested as hardy fruit banana. Fortunately we have received plants of  Musa 'Mysore' from Helton Josué (Colecionando Frutas). One American biologist, Shannon Di Corse, one scientist who is renovating one old banana collection in Trinidad, explained me that is possible on another way, the seed yield will be much more productive and also the fruits of the crosses will be seedless.  As the pollens from parthenocarpic fruit bananas like Musa 'Mysore', 'Prata Ana', 'FHIA-18' and other cultivars are transfered to seed producting wild species like Musa basjoo, sikkimensis, balbisiana, thomsonii, yunnanensis, velutina, acuminata ssp. microcarpa and other species, the wild species will produce seeds. Also one video explains the breeding to this goal. We will renew the old cross Musa 'Mysore' x basjoo on another way to get plants to test them as hardy fruit bananas.

To realize the project, a permanent residence in Brazil is required, even visa-free 90 days stays in semi-annual periods for us EU citizens and Germans are not suitable for this project because this project requires constant presence in our chácara to make the crosses, to observe the germinations, young plants and to control and supervise, as professionals and experienced experts in this field such as Dr. Chris Stührk (PhD degree in biology, currently lives in Cologne in Germany) are required. To get the proper residence permits, we are looking for a nationally recognized institution in Brazil and sponsors who support our two projects "Cold Hardy Fruit Banana” and "Terra Preta". Especially Dr. Chris Stührk is looking for an institute in Brazil in the state of São Paulo, for which he could act. I myself have self-taught my knowledge of bananas over the years, read-up on it, experimented and shared experiences and knowledge with scientists, even with the famous banana researcher Markku Häkkinen , in internet forums and banana lovers , and wrote a book about bananas in German language with the title "Tropische, subtropische und winterharte Bananen". I run banana research as a hobby, have no high school diploma and have never studied, but a very good secondary school certificate which qualifies me for high school, I was top of the class, also have a commendation certificate of the Nuremberg Chamber of Commerce as the best of the final examination year group 1991 of the vocational training center of Nuremberg, I completed my retraining as office clerk with distinction. This shows a high level of IQ that only 3 of 1000 people do have. Since 2007 I am learning Portuguese in private lessons. I could also send you a reference copy of my book in German (if you do have no knowledge of German, you can also use the Portuguese version of our website about bananas and our banana special garden at the pond as a reference), if you allow me to apply  a Brazilian scientist visa (link from the Brazilian embassy in Berlin, only German) that even the Polícia Federal in Bauru has recommended for me on January 7th, 2013 as my application for tourist visa extension to early March 2013 was denied because of a new tourist residence law for EU citizens except citizens of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and Poland and only a small extension until February 1st, 2013 was authorized.

But also the banana plantations in the southern Brazilian states Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and partly also in Paraná are endangered of frosts. Night frosts can occur there, but also rarely. There are also already coffee plantations killed or damaged severly by sudden cold snaps of Antarctic polar air and whole yields were lost. There might also frost resistant fruit bananas even useful. And also possiblities of banana cultivation might be extended to colder regions and countries.

Which nationally recognized Brazilian institute and which sponsor with contacts to nationally recognized institutes want to support us? Contact please by email to Mr. Dr. Chris Stührk (German, English, little Portuguese knowledges), Helton Josué Teodoro Muniz (Portuguese), Shannon Di Corse (English) or to me (German, Portuguese and English), Joachim Jäck. Or give us one yard with fertile banana soil (red clay soil, may not be sandy soil, humous clay soil will be ideal) in the area of Lucianópolis or Angatuba.

by Joachim Jaeck on September 23rd, 2013