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Dealing With Banana Streak Disease

by Harvest Money Editor
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Banana streak and the banana mosaic are two different diseases with the same symptoms. These two diseases are some of the commonest in the country.

Although the two are not as dangerous as the banana bacterial wilt, they cause big losses to farmers in terms of reduced size of bunches.

In recent years, it has affected the districts of Masaka, Rakai, Lyantonde and Ssembabule, with devastating consequences.

The virus derives its name from the characteristic symptoms it causes —streaking of leaves.

How it spreads

The banana streak virus is transmitted by mealybugs. On the other hand, banana mosaic is caused by a cucumber virus, which is transmitted by aphids.

Both are spread when infected suckers are planted into clean fields. Some observers have said the presence of sugarcane in banana shambas may increase incidences of the disease because sugarcanes have got a virus called bacilli, which is related to the banana streak virus and can be transmitted by the sugarcane mealybug.

Symptoms

  • Chloritic streaks and spindle-shaped lesions, which become golden, orange, brown then necrotic.
  • Golden yellow streaks can be seen
  • on the leaves of the affected plants. They gradually eat the leaves until, in many cases, completely cover all of them.
  • Gradually in many cases, the yellow streaks turn into brown. They may disappear and reappear too.
  • Sometimes the streaks appear black.

How to stop it

  • Mulch and weed; bananas can tolerate these diseases if they are regularly mulched and weeded. Mulching and weeding reduces yield losses to below 20%.
  • Destroy sick plants; Dig up sick plants and their suckers, even if the sucker seem healthy.
  • Use clean suckers; be careful with the suckers that you plant. Make sure none of them is infected by the diseases.

The effects

  • Reduces plant growth.
  • Reduces the size of the bunches.
  • Severe infection causes the cigar leaf and the centre of the plant to turn brown and die.

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