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Some bananas are grown in practically all parts of Cuba (fig. 21), but the greatest production, including all of those for export, have been grown by small farmers on hillsides in the mountain regions in the extreme eastern end of the island near Baracoa and along the north coast in the Province of Oriente in what is known as the Nipe region. Bananas and plantains grow on most of the good soils of Cuba, but do best on the deep, fertile, friable, alluvial clays and clay loams. Soils that have good drainage and yet conserve moisture during the dry season are best adapted.

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Planting is by two methods; that is, by either rootstocks or shoots. The latter develop more quickly but are more easily bent and damaged by winds. Rootstocks are planted in March and April and shoots in May, June, and July. The young plants grow quickly during the rainy season, and occasional plowing is necessary to keep down the weeds. Harvesting of the first crop usually takes place about a year after planting. New shoots sprout from the rootstock, and these produce the next crop without replanting. During the first year only one shoot is allowed to remain, but in older plants from three to five shoots are retained. Irrigation has not yet been utilized to any great extent in Cuba.

The principal diseases affecting the banana plant are the fungus Panama disease and, recently, a new disease, sigatoka, also caused by a fungus, which threatens seriously to affect the export-banana industry in Cuba as it already has in other Caribbean countries. This disease can be controlled through repeated spraying, but this requires installation of expensive equipment in addition to the cost of spray materials, with the result that the cost of production is materially increased. This in turn forces a more intensive production

with the application of commercial fertilizer and irrigation in order to produce higher yields and greater returns to compensate for the greater expenses per acre incident to spraying.

Bananas are ready for harvest (both for export and for domestic consumption) when they attain full size and the color of the fruit changes very slightly. Each stalk produces only one bunch, or stem, and when the bunch is cut the entire stalk is cut down and the new shoots produce the next crop. Present yields are estimated at about 100 bunches an acre. In areas with a more intense cultivation and irrigation, the yield may be increased to 250 or 300 bunches an acre. The fruit is transported to the nearest port or market on muleback, or is carried to the edge of the field where it may be loaded onto carts or trucks. At the ports the fruit is promptly loaded onto refrigerated ships. Slightly more than one-half of Cuba's exports have recently been through the port of Baracoa and about one-fourth through Sama, with smaller quantities through Tánamo, Banes, Guantámano, and Gibara.

The United States is the largest consumer of bananas in the world, but practically none are grown within its borders and only small quantities are supplied by the insular areas, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The principal suppliers to the United States are Central America and Mexico (table 28), while Jamaica, the largest single exporter, normally ships to Europe. Consumption in the United States in 1937 was near the record level of 1929-66.6 million bunches-but dropped to 52.3 million bunches during 1940. Total imports were valued at 31.4 million dollars in 1937. Practically all Cuba's banana exports are to the United States, amounting to 8.5 million bunches in 1937 but declining to 4.4 million in 1940.

TABLE 28.-Banana imports into the United States, by countries of origin,1 1921–40

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The future of the Cuban banana industry depends largely upon the extent of the spread and damage of the sigatoka disease. This may force a distinct shift in the areas and in production methods from the present small hillside farms to the larger and more intensive plantations on level land, with the aid of frequent irrigation and spraying.

Cuba must compete with intensive production in other countries, such as Guatemala, where soil conditions are excellent and labor costs are much lower than in Cuba.


Exports of pineapples, including fresh, canned, and in brine, average well above a million dollars a year. According to the pineapple census there were 14,862 acres in pineapples, with about 107 million plants and a total production of 2,267,000 crates in 1939. Production in 1940 was 3,048,000 crates because of higher yield (table 29). Exports are highly concentrated under the control of shippers. Of the total of 643 growers in 1939, 6 owning 22 farms produced 36 percent of the total crop, and these, in addition, financed the crops of 178 smaller growers, who produced 24 percent of the crop. Together these 6 growers therefore controlled 60 percent of the total production, including all that for export. The remaining 70 percent of the growers, with about 40 percent of the crop, produced only for domestic consumption. Most of the production is concentrated in an area southwest of Habana. The Provinces of Pinar del Río and La Habana produce nearly three-fourths of the total crop. The soils best adapted to pineapple cultivation are the fertile heavy loams, preferably rich in organic matter. Commercial fertilizer is usually applied.

TABLE 29.—Pineapple production in Cuba, by Provinces, 1939–40

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Two principal types of pineapple are grown in Cuba; the red, largely for export, and the native white for domestic consumption. The red, known as Piña Morada de Cuba, or Red Spanish, produces a thick cylindrical fruit, purple when immature and pale red when ripe. This is the usual type grown for export because it is better able to withstand shipment. The Piña Blanca produces a conical fruit, retains its greenish yellow color to maturity, and has a sweet, juicy meat; but deteriorates too rapidly to be used extensively for export shipment.

Pineapples are propagated by planting small shoots, which grow on different parts of the plant. The shoots, called criollos, appear on the trunk of the plant, while others grow just underneath the fruit (hijos) and others on top of the fruit (coronas). All three types of shoots are capable of producing new plants when placed in the earth. Criollos are planted in the spring and hijos and coronas in August and September. The shoots are planted in single or double rows separated by a


space of 5 or 6 feet between rows to permit cultivation and harvesting. From 6,500 to 8,000 plants are usually set per acre. The criollos bear fruit in about 12 months after planting and the other shoots in about 20 months. The same plants continue to bear one main crop each year for several years before replanting is necessary.


FIGURE 22.-Pineapples are Cuba's second most important export fruit.
A, field of pineapples; B, harvesting pineapples.

For local consumption, pineapples are harvested when fully ripe. Those for export are picked earlier. Some pineapples are harvested for export during every month of the year, but the main crop is in

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April, May, and June, when more than 85 percent of the exports are made. Harvesting consists of cutting off the fruit with a sharp knife as the individual fruit nears maturity and carrying it in large baskets to carts or trucks (fig. 22). One cutter and two carriers can harvest about 3,600 pineapples in a 10-hour day. Packing is done by independent packers and also by growers on the large plantations. Standard crates of 2.45 cubic feet, weighing 80 pounds gross and 75 net, are packed with fruit of uniform sizes, designated as 18's, 24's, 30's, 36's, 42's, and 48's, according to the number of pineapples in a crate. The quantity and value of exports are shown in table 26, from which it will be noted that most of the pineapples are exported as fresh fruit but that the proportion of canned fruit has materially increased during recent years. Most of the canned and practically all of the fresh fruit is exported to the United States. Cuba supplies over half of all the fresh pineapples used in the United States. Production in continental United States is limited to a small area in Florida, producing only about 20,000 crates a year. In addition, about 50,000 crates are obtained from Hawaii and nearly 500,000 crates from Puerto Rico. Of the imports from foreign countries, totaling about 1,400,000 crates, Cuba supplies about three-fourths and Mexico about onefourth. Of canned pineapple, Hawaii is by far the most important supplier.

Cuban fresh pineapples are competitive with those from Puerto Rico, the growing season for both being substantially the same, although shipments from Puerto Rico arrive earlier and continue later than those from Cuba, most of which are concentrated in April to June. Cuban fruit usually undersells Puerto Rican in the United States markets in spite of the fact that Cuban pineapples are subject to a duty of 20 cents a crate, whereas those from Puerto Rico are duty-free. However, much of the Cuban fruit is shipped through New Orleans to Chicago, whereas Puerto Rican fruit is most important on the New York market.


Oranges, grapefruit, and limes are grown in most parts of Cuba and are used extensively for domestic consumption. Only grapefruit are exported in any quantity. Oranges are of several types, including sour, bitter, sweet, and wild. Limes are also grown, principally for local consumption, although small quantities with a value of from $1,000 to $5,000 annually are exported.

The principal production of grapefruit for export is in the Isle of Pines, where the light sandy soil and climate are particularly favorable. Here a number of plantations were started, largely by people from the United States. It is estimated that present commercial orchards on the Isle of Pines consist of about 1,000 acres of grapefruit, 400 acres of oranges, and a considerable acreage of limes. Most of the grapefruit and orange trees are already 20 to 30 years old, and few new plantings have been made because of the declining profitableness of the industry since the rapid expansion of production in the United States.

Of the grapefruit varieties it is estimated that those with seeds make up slightly more than one-half of the total, while the seedless, largely Marsh, constitute less than one-half. Trees are usually

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