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4. 5. Yield/annum becomes progressively lower as the plantation ages. Harvest spread widens very quickly thus crop timing potential IS rapidly lost. As density increases, input costs per hectare rise due to increased use of props, bunch covers, fertilizers, nematicides and labour. Gross margin analysis has to take this into account. There is a scarcity of healthy follower suckers at high density as the plantation ages. As a result spatial arrangement can degenerate from a systematic to a random situation in which both accessibility and physiological efficiency are lost.

7 Colombia, Ecuador, French Antilles and the Windward Islands). In these areas, supplementary irrigation is required to avoid deficits in the dry months. Other tropical localities, also in Honduras, Colombia and Ecuador, receive up to 3500 mm rainfall, but this is also concentrated seasonally into 8 months of the year. In these areas, both drainage and irrigation infrastructures are required (Jaramillo, 1987). Outside the tropics, water requirements of the banana are derived increasingly from supplementary irrigation.

For the highest possible yields of good quality fruit, there is an optimum plant density which should be maintained for the life of the plantation. This optimum, however, varies for each particular locality, cultivar, soil type and management level. These factors in turn interact with more specific determinants of density choice, such as whether production is for high yield or fruit quality, prevailing climate, plantation vigour and plantation life. The influence of these determinants on density choice is discussed in the following paragraphs.

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