Inflorescence developmental polymorphism and its horticultural significance in plantain (Musa spp. AAB) was investigated in this study. The study was designed to evaluate the consistency of inflorescence dichotomy as well as the horticultural significance of the double and triple bunching plantain phenotypes during several production cycles. Four plantain accessions with different types of multiple bunches or inflorescence dichotomy designated here as 3(SP), 3(TP), 3(DP) and 2(DP), and ‘Agbagba’, a single bunch bearing cultivar that served as control, were replicated five times and laid out in a randomized complete block design in a field plot, in three cropping seasons with two production cycles. The data demonstrated significant (p≤0.05) differences in agronomic traits including pseudostem height, girth, number of functional leaves, number of suckers and fruit length amongst the accessions. Differences in yield and yield components (as represented by number of bunches per plant, hands, fingers, fruit circumference, bunch weight and yield per hectare), however, were not significant (p≤0.05). Overall, ‘Agbagba’ expressed the lowest flowering index and produced only a single bunch throughout the three cropping seasons evaluated in this study. Inflorescence dichotomy was inconsistent as reversals in inflorescence branching were commonly observed among all the multiple bunching accessions. The double-bunching accession usually reverted to a single bunch while the triple-bunching accessions reverted to either a single or double-bunching inflorescence; tacitly implying that inflorescence dichotomy in these plantain accessions is a random and unstable genetic trait.
Key words: Inflorescence dichotomy, Musa spp., phenotypic variation, plantain accessions.
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