The production of the East African highland cooking banana is constrained by pests, diseases and narrow genetic base amongst others. Research to develop resistant / tolerant genotypes has been on going at Kawanda. 18 promising banana hybrids have been identified. The hybrids were planted on farmers’ fields in Kasangombe Sub-county in central Uganda for evaluation against black Sigatoka and yield. Data were collected on some of the agronomic traits, banana weevil damage and response to black Sigatoka disease on the plant and first ratoon crops. The data were analysed using mixed model procedures on SAS software. Means within each crop cycle were separated by comparing hem to Mbwazirume using adjustment to Dunnett’s Test at 5% level of significance. The hybrids had more functional leaves (at least 9) compared to Mbwazirume (approximately 8 leaves). Youngest leaf spotted was significantly higher in the hybrids. All the hybrids except 2734K-1 retained significantly higher number of leaves at harvest (approximately 3 leaves). Most of the hybrids produced bigger bunches (at least 16 kg and 19 in the plant crop and first ratoon respectively) and the yield (t/ha/yr) of the banana hybrids was also higher compared to Mbwazirume. A Bi-plot of principal component analysis 1 against principal component analysis 2 showed that banana hybrids 12419S-13, 2625K-1 and 7798S-2 displayed very good agronomic traits in terms of plant height, girth and bunch weights. They also appeared to be tolerant to black Sigatoka disease as compared to Mbwazirume. These could be recommended for further evaluation with farmers to establish their culinary qualities and acceptability.
Key words: East African highland banana hybrids, black Sigatoka disease.
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