EFFECT OF DEFOLIATION ON THE YIELD AND QUALITY OF ‘PRATA COMUM’ BANANA FRUITS
ABSTRACT With the advent of black sigatoka in commercial banana crops in the “Vale do Ribeira” region, state of São Paulo, the monitoring the severity and chemical control of the disease in susceptible varieties have become more frequent in order to avoid leaf loss. This study simulated the effect of defoliation caused by the disease on the yield and quality of ‘Prata Comum’ banana fruits, depending on the formation period and fruit position in the bunch. The experimental design was completely randomized in a 2 x11 factorial scheme (period of bunch formation x number of leaves at flowering), 6-16 leaves at flowering in two periods of bunch formation with six replicates. In Period 1, flowering occurred at 04/15/13 and in Period 2 at 01/07/14, although in Period 1, bunch mass was higher and in Period 2, higher average maximum and minimum daily temperatures, precipitation and radiation were observed. Regardless of formation period, the number of leaves at flowering affected bunch mass, which ranged from 18 to 23 kg plant-1. Defoliation affected the size of fruits of hand 1 and last hand of the bunch, but not the variability in fruit size due to the position the fruit occupies in the bunch and physicochemical characteristics.