Australia: Climate key to slow, sweet bananas

The soil, weather and growing conditions in Western Australia all allow growers there to produce a banana that's much sweeter than most. While that also means that it takes longer to grow those bananas, the extra time is evident in the texture and taste of the unique fruit.

The sub-tropical climate is key to the unique conditions necessary to grow sweet bananas in Carnarvon in Western Australia, according to Christoffer Persson, account manager for Sweeter Banana Co-op. His cooperative consists of 25 farmers who've grown the sweet bananas along the banks of the Gascoyne River since 1993. The arid climate in the region forces growers to bunch their fruit closer together, and the resulting heat and humidity retention produce higher brix levels, though at a slower rate than conventional bananas.

“Due to the cooler climate of the subtropics, our bananas grow slower,” said Persson. “Our bananas in Western Australia take between 12 and 14 months to grow.” That's compared to the nine months it typically takes to grow bananas in other regions like Far North Queensland, but the added time is very noticeable in the fruit's taste.

“Our bananas average a brix level between 22 and 24,” said Persson. “Tropical-grown bananas have brix levels between 16 and 18.”

The arid climate also keeps most pests away from the fruit, and the remaining insects are treated naturally through integrated pest management practices. In fact, Persson noted, not many extraneous inputs are used in bringing a crop to maturity.

“We only add fertilizer and minerals to the soil,” he said. “We do that to strengthen the growing, and that's the only reason we're not certified organic.”

Sweeter Bananas are packed in 750 gram bags for retail with six to nine bananas, measuring between 140 and 220 millimeters in length, per bag. The diameter of each banana falls between 28 and 40 millimeters. They're currently marketed as “Lunch Box” bananas in Australia with a focus on the ability to fit in lunchboxes as well as the fruit's creamy texture and sweet taste.

For more information:
Christoffer Persson
Sweeter Banana Co-op
+61 400 1459 00

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