Ecological and fertiliser requirements, growing passion fruits
Passion fruits do well in areas with the following ecological requirements.
Varieties of passion fruits
Both yellow and purple types exist. Purple varieties do better at higher altitudes than yellow types, which, however, yield higher and are more resistant to diseases. The purple variety is very acidic, variable in taste and juicy with an intense aromatic scent and round in shape. The yellow variety is bigger, with a similar taste but possibly less aromatic, more acidic and round in shape.
Both varieties are green before ripening. Yellow passion fruits are most widely grown for commercial purposes globally.
Planting and trellising passion fruits
Passion fruit can be grown from seed but grafting often produces improved stock. Yellow passion fruit is best for the production of rootstock because of its superior disease resistance. The seed is germinated after the removal of the pulp and drying. Germination requires up to four weeks. Production of seedlings in plastic bags is the most common method of growing young crops.
Up to three seeds are planted in each bag and then thinned to one after emergence.
Seedlings will require up to four months to reach a suitable transplanting growth stage. After about seven weeks of growth following transplanting, each plant should have up to four healthy lateral stems. Transplanting should be done at the beginning of the rainy season. Passion fruit has deep roots, so soils should be well-tilled.
Transplanting is often done along a fence to provide support or a wire trellis should be constructed. The vines are usually directed so that growth is in both directions along the supporting wires.
Yields are highest following a regular fertilisation regime. Old or dead shoots should be pruned. Intercropping with vegetables or other annuals is recommended.
Ideally, young passion vines should be set in the field early in the growing season after the danger of drought is gone. Passion vines are planted two metres apart between plants and three metres between rows. Horizontal trellises have cross-pieces at the top of each post with two to four wires strung 60cm apart along the top of each cross-piece.
Vertical trellises consist of heavy posts without cross-pieces, with two to three wires strung along the row like barbed wire fencing, attached to the posts from the top down at intervals about 30-40cm apart.
Trellis wires should be size nine or 10 galvanised steel. The posts need to be stout enough to withstand the weight of the vines throughout a season that normally includes the buffeting of strong winds. Ideally, they should be long enough to provide a trellis height of 1.5m, with 45-75cm in the ground. Trellis rows should be oriented north-south for maximum exposure to sunlight.
Passion Fruit Fertiliser application
At planting, apply 175g of Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) and one ‘debe’ (about 20kg) of farmyard manure and mix well.
To obtain high yields, regular fertilisation is necessary. Apply 300g of Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN) per plant per year in two applications of 150g each during the rainy season.
Crop protection growing passion fruits
Weeding is essential when the plants are first transplanted. Diseases are usually sufficiently controlled by crop rotation as plantations are not kept for more than three years. Infected plant material should be pruned and destroyed and vines kept as open as possible to allow thorough application of sprays. Diseases can also be controlled by the combination of good management, good orchard hygiene and a suitable spray programme.
Harvesting passion fruits
When ready for harvesting, the skin of the fruit is deep purple/yellow in colour. Its pulpy interior is bright yellow, filled with small black seeds. For fresh market or use, the fruit is picked when colour changes occur. For processing, the fruit is allowed to drop to the ground and then picked at least every second day. At this stage, the fruit is shrivelled but quite suitable for processing. Yields decline each year until harvests are not adequate in the fourth year.
Yield, market of passion fruits
The demand for passion fruits surpasses the supply in both the local and international markets. Therefore, you cannot lack a market for passion fruits. Yields of more than15-20 tonnes/ha are attainable.
They have a ready market in supermarkets, open-air markets, hotels and restaurants, especially in major towns.
You can also export your passion fruits to neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda as there is a good market there.
Key facts when growing passion fruits
Yellow passion fruit is best for the production of rootstock because of its superior disease resistance. Seedlings will require up to four months to reach a suitable transplanting growth stage. After about seven weeks of growth following transplanting, each plant should have up to four healthy lateral stems.