[en] banana ; crown rot ; fruit susceptibility ; geographical and seasonal effects ; Musa 22 spp. ; post-harvest diseases
[en] Crown rot of banana fruits is caused by a complex of fungal pathogens, the most common of which is Colletotrichum musae, and is one of the main quality defects of exported bananas. Susceptibility of banana fruits to crown rot is influenced by many pre-harvest factors. The aim of this study was to improve on the methodology for the evaluation of fruit susceptibility and to verify whether cultivation areas in Cameroon as well as seasonal variations have an influence on the susceptibility to crown rot. Fruit susceptibility was evaluated on a monthly basis throughout a year (including the dry and rainy seasons) in three banana plantations located at very different agro-ecological conditions (two in a lowland area and one in a highland area). Fruit susceptibility was determined through an internal necrotic surface (INS) assessment after artificial inoculation with C. musae. The standardization of post-inoculation environmental conditions enabled more reliable INS assessments. Fruit susceptibility was found to be significantly influenced by cultivation area (P<0.001) since fruits grown in low altitude (Dia-dia, Koumba, 80 m) were more susceptible than fruits grown in high altitude (Ekona, 500 m). Although no seasonal effect was observed (P=0.075), there was a highly significant date effect (P<0.001). This was specifically the case in low altitude plantations where fruit susceptibility was higher for some harvest dates within the rainy season. In Ekona, fruit grade and number of leaves on the banana plant were found to be significantly higher than in the two other locations, while black leaf streak disease severity was significantly lower. The potential relationship with fruit susceptibility is fully discussed.