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The A-Z of Passion Fruit Farming

Passion fruit (Passiflora sp.) belongs to the family Passifloraceae. It is a perennial crop which produces fruits within a year. In Kenya, passion fruits are grown in Thika, Nyamira, Kisii, Nyeri, Kakamega, Murang’a, Meru, among other regions.

Fruits can be eaten fresh or processed into juice.

Varieties

There are two major passion fruit varieties grown in Kenya. These are;

  1. Passiflora edulis– this is purple in colour when ripe, quite acidic, and tasty and juiciness varies. It has a strong aromatic scent and is round in shape. This variety is suited to the subtropical regions.
  2. Passiflora flavicarpa– it is yellow when ripe, oval in shape and less aromatic. This variety is adapted to the tropics, thus does very well in Kenya.

Both varieties are usually green in colour before ripening.

Ecologial Requirements

  • Soil– passion fruit plant thrives in deep well drained soils with a PH range of 6.0-7.0. The soil should also be rich in organic matter.
  • Altitude– the crop does well in an altitude range of between 1200-2000M ASL.
  • Rainfall– an annual rainfall of about 900-2000mm is suitable for an optimal production of this crop. Excess rainfall leads to poor fruit sett and also encourages diseases.
  • Temperature– for optimal production, a temperature range of between 18-28 degrees centigrade is sufficient.

Propagation

Propagation is by seeds, grafts, or cuttings.

Seed Propagation

Seedlings are first raised in a nursery beds.

Quality seeds should be got from the best fruits.

Procedure
  • Plough a piece of land and prepare beds of 1m wide
  • Drench soil with a mixture of LOYALTY 700WDG 10g + PYRAMID 700WP 100g + OPTIMIZER 20ml in 20litres of water. This helps in eradicating soil pests and diseases and breaks seed dormancy, promotes uniform germination as well as supplying nutrients.
  • Plant seeds in furrows, 30 cm apart.
  • Cover seeds lightly with soil
  • Mulch with a thin layer of grass. Mulching is removed after germination.

Seeds can be soaked in OPTIMIZER 20ml/1L overnight. This helps in breaking dormancy.

Seeds germinate in 10-15days.

The seedlings can be transplanted when they are about 25-40mm tall.

NB; -Cuttings should be gotten from an actively growing young and newly mature wood with 2-3 internodes.

Grafts are got by joining rootstock and scions of different passion varieties.

Planting in Main Field

Procedure
  • Land preparation. This is made easier and effective by use of CLAMPDOWN 480SL 200ml/20l because it kills all types of weeds.
  • Prepare holes about 45*45cm, at a spacing of 3*2metres.
  • Fill the holes with soil mixed with manure and DAP. In order to improve on nutrients uptake by the young plants as well as stimulating growth, it is advisable to incorporate manure and DAP with HUMIPOWER at the rate of 1ton manure and 50kg fertilizer in 1kg Humipower each.
  • Water the holes unless the soil is wet enough.
  • Plant the seedlings/ grafts in the holes.

Shading can be done to protect the young plants direct sunlight and the growing site should be protected from strong wind.

Passion fruits are climbers and therefore construction of trellis for support is important.

Pruning, which involves regular removal of tendrils, causes the vines to entangle ensuring that the lateral branches hang down freely.

Pests

  • Aphids– – these are soft bodied insects, which are green, black or brown and suck plant sap. Infested leaves curl and crinkle. As they feed, they excrete honeydew which facilitates the development of sooty mold which reduces photosynthetic area. Stunted growth is noted.

Spray KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20L or PENTAGON 50EC 10ml/20L or LOYALTY 700WDG 5g/20L

To clean the sooty mold, spray JAMBO CLEAN 100ml/20L

  • Mealy bugs– – these are small, flat, soft bodied insects with their bodies covered with a whitish secretion. They suck sap from tender leaves, petioles and fruits. Severely infested leaves become yellow and eventually dry. As they feed, they also excrete honey dew on which sooty mold develops.

Spray KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20L or PRESENTO 200SP 10g/20L or EMERALD 200SL 10ml/20L

Spray JAMBO CLEAN 100ml/20L to clean the sooty mold.

  • Cutworms- these are found in the soil near the root zone of the crop. They cut the stem of younger plants below the soil surface. The attacked plants eventually withers.

Drench soil with PROFILE 440EC 60ml/20L or PENTAGON 50EC 20ml/20L

  • Fruit fly– it attacks the young fruits while the rind is still tender altering their cell development and multiplication. This leads to production of deformed fruits as well as immature dropping of the infested fruits.

Spray KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20L or PRESENTO 200SP 10g/20L or PENTAGON 50EC 10ml/20L

  • Mites– these have piercing and sucking mouthparts. They feed on the underside of the leaf leading to formation of whitish or yellowish patches. Heavy infestations can cause defoliation.

Spray ALONZE 50EC 5ml/20L or BAZOOKA 18EC 10ml/20L

  • Scales– these are sucking insects found on green fruits and leaves. They appear as small shells glued to the plant and suck sap .Infested leaves turn yellow and may drop, fruits fall prematurely and diebacks of infested branches occurs. They secrete honeydew as they feed which facilitates development of sooty mold.

Spray LOYALTY 700WDG 5g/20l or EMERALD 200SL 10ml/20L

Spray JAMBO CLEAN 100ml/20L to get rid of the sooty mold

Diseases

  • Damping off– this is a soil borne disease which mostly attacks the seedlings making them to rot and eventually die. The roots of these infected seedlings exhibit a white cottony growth.

Drench soil with PYRAMID 700WP 100g/20L or CHANCETYL ELITE 800WDG 100g/20L

  • Brown spot– infection is mostly on leaves and fruits which leads to formation of brownish rings with dead spots. Heavy infestation causes defoliation and fruit fall.

Spray RANSOM 600WP 15g/20L or EXEMPO CURVE 250SC 15ml/20L or ABSOLUTE 375SC 10ml/20l

  • Fusarium wilt– infection causes wilting and eventual death of the plant. The vascular tissues are usually brown in colour.

Drench soil with GREENCOP 500WP 100g/20L or COLONIZER® 440WP 100g/20L

  • Blight– symptoms appear as dark water soaked lesions on the leaves. As infection continues, these lesions spread leading to death of the leaves. Infection on young shoots causes premature death of the plant.

Spray GEALOCK TURBO 250WP 25g/20L or FORTRESS GOLD 720WP 40g/20L

  • Woodiness– this is a viral infection which leads to distortion of leaves and woodiness of fruits. Stunted growth is evident and yields are greatly reduced. It is transmitted by aphids.

Solution; control vectors (aphids) by spraying KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20L or PENTAGON 50EC 10ml/20L

  • Dieback– This is characterized by drying up of branches from top to bottom, especially the older plants.

Spray GREENCOP 500WP 50g/20L after pruning the infected parts.

Nutrition & Nutritional Deficiencies

The crop should be supplied with sufficient amounts of nutrients for optimal production. If deprived of nutrients, the crop becomes weak and susceptible to attack by pathogens.

Proper nutrition can be achieved through the use of both basal and foliar fertilizers.

 

Basal fertilizers

These are applied in the soil, thus absorbed by the crop through the roots.

These include

  • DAP- this is used during planting because it majorly rich in Phosphorous which is highly needed at early growth stages of the crop.
  • CAN- it is essential for top dressing.
  • Others include NPK, UREA, TSP, etc.

NOTE;

  • Considering the amount of organic matter in the soil, manure can be added, which should be mixed with HUMIPOWER at the rate of 1kg Humipower into 1 ton of manure for efficient uptake of the nutrients.
  • In order to improve on nutrient uptake by the crop, improve soil structure, stimulate crop growth, among other benefits, it is advisable to mix 50kg of basal fertilizer with 1kg HUMIPOWER.

Foliar fertilizers

These are absorbed through the foliage tissues of the crop.

They include;

  • OPTIMIZER 10ml/20L-this has both macro and micro nutrient elements needed by the plant, is a super stress manager, helps in boosting plant’s immunity and prevents flower abortion among other benefits. It can be sprayed at any stage of the crop development.
  • GOLDCHANCE RANGE 50g/20L – this takes care of the crop at the different stages of growth and development, e.g., Goldchance Super Flowers & Fruits which is very essential when the crop starts flowering and bearing fruits .
  • LAVENDER 20ml/20L- this is rich in Phosphorous, Nitrogen and other nutrient elements which are very essential to the crop, for instance, in root and foliage development.
  • VITABOR GOLD 60ml/20L- improves the general quality of the fruit, e.g. size, shape, taste, etc.
  • DIMIPHITE 10ml/20L- this promotes flowering and fruiting of the plant and increases the sugar levels of the fruits.

Deficiencies

  • Phosphorous deficiency– deficient plant is stunted with dark green leaves. As deficiency continues, these leaves turn orange yellow and eventually falloff. Phosphorous deficiency causes delay of flowering and maturity of the crop.

Correction; spray DIMIPHITE 30ml/20L or LAVENDER SUPER START 20ml/20L or GOLDCHANCE SUPER START 50g/20L

  • Potassium deficiency– plants become stunted. Symptoms start from the older to the younger leaves which show marginal chlorosis and later necrosis

Correction; spray DIMIPHITE 30ml/20L or GOLDCHANCE SUPER FLOWERS & FRUITS 50g/20L

  • Nitrogen deficiency– growth rate is highly reduced. Leaves become chlorotic starting with the older ones and this leads to eventual premature falling.

Correction; spray LAVENDER SUPER GROWTH 20ml/20L or GOLDCHANCE SUPER GROWTH 50g/20L

  • Boron– deficiency causes flower abortion, and cracking of fruits.

Spray VITABOR GOLD 20ml/20L

  • Zinc– leaves become small and narrow and margins bend upwards or downwards, internodes shorten. Young plants may die in severe cases.

Spray ZINC GOLD 10ml/20L

Weed Management

Weeds compete with the crop for nutrients, space, light and water causing significant losses. It is therefore of great importance to keep passion fruit field weed free.

When the crop is young, weeding can be done manually. However, in later stages of development, for instance when the vines have already climbed up their support, CLAMPDOWN 480SL 200ml/20L should be used to kill all kinds of weed.

Mulching also helps in managing weeds.

NOTE; whenever doing foliar spray of chemicals, always use INTEGRA 3ml/20l. This is a sticker, spreader and penetrant which improves on the effectiveness of the product.

Maturity, Harvesting & Post Harvest Handling

Passion fruit vines start fruiting after about 10 months.

For the yellow type, fruits can be harvested when the skin appears deeply golden, while the purple ones can be harvested when skin turns slightly black.

Slightly wrinkled fruits have a sweeter taste than those with smooth skins. When fully ripened, fruits drop off the vine.

Harvested fruits should be marketed soonest possible in order to prevent weight loss or stored in a refrigerator or mesh bags.

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Written by Kenya Farmers

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