Banana (Musa spp.) is the most economical fruit in Ethiopia. Despite its great importance, most of the cultivars grown by banana producers are low yielders with poor fruit qualities for commercial production. This study was conducted to evaluate banana cultivars for their growth, yield and quality performance to find the best variety for the target agroecologies. The results revealed significant varietal differences in plant height, days to shooting, time from planting to harvest, bunch weight, finger length, finger weight, yield, peel thickness, pulp-to-peel ratio, total soluble solids (TSS), total titratable acidity (TTA), pH, moisture and ash contents. However, cultivars were not significantly different in plant girth, number of functional leaves, time from shooting to harvest, hands per bunch, fingers per hand, fruit diameter and sensory attributes. The cultivars had generally short and thick plants, which are good features for orchard management and low wind damage. Cultivars took from 374.4 to 446.7 days to harvest. Four cultivars flowered faster and matured earlier than the control. The yield ranged from 43.67 to 52.46 t ha-1. Five cultivars had comparable yields to the control. The sensory results indicated that all the cultivars were generally preferred to the control; â€˜Lady Fingerâ€™ was the most favored cultivar. The TSS, TTA and pH ranged from 20.00 to 24.47 Â°Brix, 3.71 to 6.12% and 4.69 to 5.20, respectively. All cultivars recorded higher TSS, lower TTA, and higher TSS/TAA ratios than the control. The moisture (71.53 to 76.56%) and ash (2.50 to 3.36%) contents were significantly different among the cultivars. These physicochemical characteristics are vital quality parameters which contribute to the important sensory attributes of bananas. The mineral concentration analysis provided from 41.20 to 77.89, 264.03 to 371.18 and 4.20 to 19.35 mg/100g phosphorus, potassium and sodium, respectively. The cultivars contained higher phosphorus and potassium contents, which indicate their potential nutritional significance. Also, the cultivars exhibited resistance to Fusarium wilt, but with varying degrees of tolerance to black Sigatoka disease. Considering their combined multiple desirable agronomic and yield traits, fruit physicochemical and sensory characteristics, â€˜Lady Fingerâ€™ and â€˜Dinke-1â€™ have been recommended for commercial production in the major banana growing areas of Ethiopia.
Keywords: Agronomic performance, physicochemical characteristics, sensory attributes, minerals, moisture, ash