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Model-based benchmarking of the production potential of plantains (Musa spp., AAB): application to five real plantain and four plantain-like hybrid varieties in Cameroon

  • S. DÉPIGNY (a1) (a2) (a3), T. LESCOT (a3), R. ACHARD (a3) (a4), O. DIOUF (a2), F. X. COTE (a3), C. FONBAH (a2), L. SADOM (a2) and P. TIXIER (a3)...

A great many plantain varieties are cropped in West and Central Africa, and there is a lack of information about their production potential and suitability for cropping system environments. To obtain benchmark data for the production potential of plantain varieties, experimental and modelling approaches were combined to determine intrinsic growth parameters and to increase understanding of factors affecting yield. Five real plantains commonly cropped in Cameroon and representative of plantain group diversity (Batard, Big Ebanga, Essong, French clair and Mbouroukou n°3) and four plantain-like hybrids (CRBP39, D248, D535 and FHIA21) were studied. A process-based growth model (the AAB model) was developed that accounts for specific characteristics of the plantain crop that includes parameters affecting growth, development and yield. Varietal-specific parameters were determined in a field experiment conducted under nearly non-limiting production conditions while general parameters were drawn from the literature. Parameters describing the conversion of intercepted radiation into dry matter were evaluated by model fitting. Photosynthetic efficiency was significantly higher for real plantains than for plantain-like hybrids. The model realistically simulated development, growth and bunch production for five varieties. These results are the first step in developing a useful tool for assessing the suitability of plantain varieties to different environments. The current study highlights the need for greater knowledge of plantain physiology in order to better model plantain growth and develop variety-specific production approaches.

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