Passion fruit: A new alternative crop for small farmers
Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) is a perennial, climbing, woody vine that produces edible round or ovoid fruit with many small seeds. Vines have a productive life of 3 to 4 years. New plantings should be made on a continuous 3-year rotation to maintain production. The fruit are used as fresh or juice. Popular cultivars include purple and yellow passion fruit. The purple passion fruit is the more common type and has an egg-shaped or round-shaped fruit which is 4–6 cm in diameter and becomes purple when ripe. Passion fruit growing is a great option to family operated farms. Many passion fruit growers have other fruit crops or agricultural enterprises.
Growing Tips: Passion fruit vines are usually grown from seeds. If planted soon after removal from the fruit, seeds will germinate in 2 to 3 weeks. Some growers prefer layers or cuttings of matured wood with 3 to 4 nodes. Cuttings should be well rooted and ready for setting out in 90 days. Passion fruit likes a well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Prepare soil by incorporating plenty of compost and well-rotted manure to a planting zone 3-6 ft wide. Water regularly and ensure good soil fertility by incorporating well-balance all-purpose organic fertilizer early spring and early autumn.
Too much nitrogen encourages only leaf growth at the expense of fruiting. Regular pruning will improve production and keep your vines healthy. Most passion fruit vines start producing meaningful fruits from their second year especially under relatively colder conditions. Passion fruit flowers are not self-fertile, and many varieties are self-incompatible therefore cross-pollination is necessary for seed and fruit set. Wind pollination is not effective because of the weight and stickiness of the pollen. The purple passion fruit has self-compatible flowers, so no pollinating varieties are required.
The most satisfactory way to supply ample pollination is by stocking the area with sufficient honey bee colonies.The first fruit will appear 6-8 months after planting with the best crops after 18 months. Fruit will drop off the vine when ready. Vines generally perform well for 3-5 years after which they need to be replaced.
Pest and Disease: Passion fruit woodiness virus, brown spot, fruit fly, and poor pollination are major issues in passion fruit production. Nematodes also can be a serious problem. Caterpillars slow growth by eating foliage. Additional information may be found at here.