Why Tenerife bananas are fortunate crops.

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You see Tenerife bananas that grow galore in the open near the sea in the Orotava Valley.  However in the South, they grow usually under canopies or in tents.

Depicted are bananas that grow in Los Realejos. Not shown are those in the Middle of Puerto de la Cruz as well as by Loro Park opposite Playa Jardin and beyond. You find them all along the Northwest coast of Tenerife.

Portrayed are plants of Platanos de Canarias in their plantations by residential areas of Los Portreros of Toscal Longuera of Los Realejos. 

Discover a picturesque setting of banana trees by the sea. It's at El Guindaste where the plants grow wall to wall along the entire bay. 

History of Tenerife bananas

The Platanos de Canarias were first introduced on the island at the end of the nineteenth century. Then,  sugar cane stopped being commercially viable there. 

Portuguese ships brought the banana plants over from nearby Cabo Verde.


History of the banana export to the North of Europe

It all started with Puerto de la Cruz tourism. Puerto's steam ships didn't only bring German health tourists back to Hamburg. They also carried tons of the yellow tropical fruit the Platano. That was after Hotel Taoro of the oldest Tenerife resort had become the craze of Spain's first Spa. 

Shipments of Tenerife bananas to England and Ireland were handled from 1895 onward by the Forwarders Elder Dempster and Co.Ltd.

By 1910,  the Puerto de la Cruz Company of Yeoward Brothers founded their own shipping line and stopped using the forwarders Elder Dempster.

  The Yeowards became pioneers for London and Liverpool with their Banana cruises for both tourists and the island's Platanos de Canarias. They were even growing the crop themselves in the Orotava Valley.

May be they used a location like the most stunning banana bay in Tenerife which is by Rambla del Mar and San Pedro. 

The fate of the banana ships of the Yeoward brothers

The brothers became successful traders after long struggles and much determination. Eventually, several of their 'Banana' ships were torpedoed by German submarines during WW1 and WW2. Other problems were boycotts, trade embargo and the Spanish Civil war.

The Golden age of the banana

Shipping to the North of Europe only started to boom in the so called Golden Banana era between 1950 and 1975. An international outbreak of banana disease was one of the reasons besides the end of WW2.

6 Reasons why Tenerife Bananas are fortunate

  • Perfect low lands below 350m above the sea with acid soils, i.e. the ideal PH and reasonable drainage
  • Optimum geographic location: The Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic with trade winds and a near golf stream
  • Climatic conditions of "eternal Spring" without extreme heat, humidity or cold
  • Endemic banana varieties: known by the term autochthonous which is otóctono in Spanish
  • No water or wind propagates the main banana fungi in Tenerife
  • Neither the Sahara Calima (Sirocco) nor the Trade winds bring banana mold.

The fungi Mycosphaerella fijiensis

They cause Black Sigatoka known as Sigatoka Negra in Spanish. The fungus of the Sigatoka lives in the soil. It renders leaves black and prevents photo synthesis. This banana disease started to cause world havoc in 1963. By the way, this is why you don't find bananas in  nurseries or botanical gardens. Once the disease is in the soil it damages vegetable produce and other plants. Only pain staking fumigation gets rid of the pest. This isn't commercially viable.

Banana plants at the Tenerife botanical gardens

At the beginning of April 2016, I spotted the above portrayed banana plants in the famous botanical gardens in La Paz of Tenerife Island. The light green  plants look exactly like the ones that produce finger bananas in Southern Africa.

However, nobody I know ever saw them with any  fruit in this oasis of the northern suburb of Puerto de la Cruz.

 

Finger banana plant versus giant Strelitzia Nicolai

Also mind the cluster of the dark, giant Strelitzia Nicolai behind. It seems to be almost  eight meters tall, while finger banana trees easily grow up to 5 or even 6 meters. The normal commercial types reach about 3 meters.  

Strelitzias produce flowers only contrary to bananas. An outstanding specimen depicted below shows the development of fruit. This was captured at a 5 Star hotel of Puerto de la Cruz. 

Conclusion for a world unique banana

Platanos de Canarias with Tenerife bananas received the IGP seal of World Uniqueness in 2013.

Why?

They are resistant to banana disease, are delicious and full of important nutrients, such as potassium. Also, they can be eaten raw.

Other amazing facts and news 2016

Depicted is a Tenerife 'platanos' (banana) plantation in Calle Mississippi in Los Portreros of Toscal Longuera. Notice the snow on the mountains on the horizon. The photo was taken in March 2016. More fell at the beginning of April, while the bananas on this farm profited from more rain. This is rather normal for December and January or, by the latest February.

From Tenerife bananas back to Tenerife attractions

More info about the Cavendish bananas and general banana pests in Spanish which kindly translate online.





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