AbstractPlantain and banana production in the semiarid lowlands of the southern coast of Puerto Rico has been increasing because of a greater demand for high-quality fruits, high farm-gate prices and the availability of arable land with an irrigation infrastructure. There is, however, a scarcity of information on optimum water requirements and practical irrigation recommendations for growers of these crops. Five irrigation regimes based on class A pan factors, ranging from 0.25 to 1.25 were used to obtain fractions of the potential evapotranspiration and to evaluate their influence on yield and other crop traits. Results were extrapolated to make projections on productivity, gross safes, and on irrigation costs incurred in the operation of a 20-hectare farm of drip irrigated plantains or bananas. Increasing the amount of applied irrigation in a 20-hectare plantation from a pan factor of 0.75 to 1.25 increased the number of banana fruit boxes by 6,747 in the plant crop, and by 18,009 in the first banana ratoon.This irrigation increment resulted in gross sales increases of $40,482 for the banana plant crop, and $108,054 for the first banana ratoon, with an additional water and energy cost of only $2,388. The net income for the plant crop and first banana ratoon irrigated according to a pan factor of 1.0 was estimated to be $51,780 and $163,500, respectively, in a 20 hectare banana plantation. There were no significant differences in the number of plantain fruits in irrigated plants when pan factors ranged from 0.75 to 1.25. However, irrigating plantains according to a pan factor of 1.25 significantly increased bunch yield and fruit weight. This article presents a detailed economic analysis of all the operational costs involved in the establishment and management of a banana plantation on the southern coast of Puerto Rico.
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