Passion fruit plants are affected by a variety of insects and diseases that can have an adverse impact on the yield and profitability of your farm. Before venturing into passion fruit production, it is therefore important for you to have the proper knowledge and expertise on the management of your passion fruit vines so as to maximize on the production. Optimal yields are achieved through proper management and plant husbandry.
Before you venture into passion fruit farming, it is necessary to know some basics about the passion fruit crop you are going to plant.
Passion fruit seed extraction, planting and grafting
The seed extraction
The first step to establishing your passion fruit crop is seed extraction. In this process, the healthy and mature fruits of the passion fruits that have a history of excellent performance are extracted from the parent plant.
The extracted seeds are then put in water for at least three days which will allow them to ferment and make it easier to separate the passion fruit seeds from the pulp.
After extraction, the passion fruit seeds are then dried under shade. If you don’t store the passion fruit seeds in a cool, dark and dry place, they are going to lose the viability and that means the rate at which they will germinate and thrive will be quite low.
Planting your passion fruit seeds
The passion fruit seeds should be planted into a pre-prepared seed bed. Alternatively, you can also use polythene bags in planting the seedlings which will make the transplantation a lot easier. Typically, the polythene bags should be at least 6cm wide and 22.5cm high.
When planting the seeds, use soil that is sterilized so as to get rid of the nematodes that are like to afflict the passion fruit roots and kill the plants or lower their yields. Sterilised soils also eliminate the various soil borne diseases and various other harmful micro-organisms.
There are various ways in which you can carry out soil sterilisation. For example, you can use hot steam or simply expose the soil to sun for several days before planting the seeds. The germination of the passion fruit seeds will begin at least 17 days after the planting has been done.
Grafting Your Passion Fruit
The rootstock of the yellow passion fruit variety is generally used because it has excellent resistance to the nematodes and various other passion fruit diseases. The purple passion fruit varieties are generally more vulnerable to these pests and diseases. Using the yellow passion fruit rootstocks will increase the survivability of the plant. The rootstocks should be at least 50cm high and 3 or mm thick.
After the germination, choose healthy seedlings with dark green leaves for grafting. The scions of healthy looking high yielding purple passion fruits will be used for the grafting. These should be collected when the plant has flowered. The mother plants from which you will collect the scions should be raised in an area where there is sufficient protection from insects so as to reduce the occurrences of diseases.
Make sure that the grafting equipment is sterilised so as to prevent the spread of diseases. A simple home based solution that you can use to sterilise your passion fruit grafting equipment is Clorox.
You can graft the passion fruit using the cleft technique or by splicing.
After the grafting, make sure that the seedlings are watered and a hardened by exposing them to sunshine gradually.
One month after grafting, you can remove the grafting tape from the union and then transplant your seedlings in the field.