Passiflora edulis (purple passion fruit) / P. edulis var. flavicarpa
(yellow passion fruit)
The passion is a perennial climbing plant which a popular fruit for both domestic and export markets. There are two types of passion fruits: yellow & purple passion fruit. Either type may be eaten fresh, but mostly the pulp is extracted and preserved by heating or cooling. The juice has a unique and intense flavour and high acidity, which makes it a natural concentrate. When sweetened and diluted it is very palatable and blends well with other fruit juices.
General benefits of Passion fruit
Passion flowers are widely employed by herbalists and natural health practitioners globally today. They are mostly employed as a sedative, hypnotic (inducing sleep), nervine, anti-spasmodic and pain reliever.
The yellow passion fruit can also be used as a root stock for grafting of the purple variety as the former is often used to control diseases.
Propagation and planting
Passion fruit is generally propagated from seed, although cuttings and grafting can be used. Seed should be rubbed clean of pulp and dried in the shade. Germination takes 2-4 weeks. Fresh seeds are much easier to germinate than seeds older than one or two months. Older seeds can be soaked for at least one day to improve germination. Seedlings are often raised in polythene bags, 15 cm wide and 25 cm deep. Three seeds per bag are sown at a depth of 1 cm and thinned to leave one after two months. Cuttings are set in coarse sand and later transplanted into bags or a nursery bed. The seedlings grow slowly and require 3-4 months to reach the transplanting height of 15-25 cm. Seedlings must be hardened off by leaving them in an open, shaded area for a day or two.
Within 5-7 weeks after transplanting, each plant will have up to four healthy laterals. From then on the vine grows very rapidly; the first flowers are produced 5-7 months after transplanting when the vine can be 10-15 m long.
Light is the essential factor for flowering and in passion fruit this is particularly true for floral development and fruit set. That is why training and pruning are important to ensure adequate exposure of the shoots. Depending on the climate there may be one to three harvest peaks (purple passion fruit) or a single, often very long harvest season (more common with the yellow passion fruit).
Intercropping helps in erosion control particularly when fed with good compost. A wide range of vegetables and other crops can be intercropped with passion fruit especially vegetables: beans, cabbages, and tomatoes are agronomically suitable. Other recommended crops include potatoes, beetroots, carrots, spinach, strawberries, eggplants, peppers, onions, leeks and head lettuce.
It is advisable not to intercrop with cucumbers, pumpkins and butternut squash due to the woodiness virus and fruit flies. Other crops that should not be intercropped with passion fruits are maize, cowpea, sorghum, okra, sweet potatoes and other creepers (GTZ, 1978).
To avoid build-up of soil-borne diseases strict crop rotation should be practiced (see suitable crops under intercropping). Passion fruits should not be grown for more than 2-3 years on the same plot.
If a plantation is cropped for 3 years; of the total crop, roughly 50% is produced in the first year, 35% in the second, and 15% in the third year. The sharp decline in yield level, which is even more marked in areas with disease problems, is the main reason to replant fields after the second or third crop.
Average yields amount to 10-15 t/ha per year for the purple and 20-25 t/ha per year for the yellow passion fruit. Much higher yields are possible; yields as high as 50 t/ha per year for purple passion fruit have been reported from regionally.
Fruit drops to the ground when fully mature. It is collected every second day; at this stage it looks shrivelled and unattractive, but for processing fruits should be picked at this stage.
For fresh fruit markets, especially the export market, fruit is picked after full colour development when the whole fruit is purple or canary yellow, but before shrivelling and drying set in.
- Author: 11
- Publication Date: 2015-04-23 15:01:17
- Article Category: Fruits
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