Weeding Your Passion Fruit: Because the passion fruit plants are shallow rooted plants, they will be seriously affected by a sudden reduction in soil moisture. Unless you are weeding your plants during the wet season, it is advisable to control the weeds carefully so as to prevent the passion fruit plant from shedding leaves due to competition for water from the weeds.
Also when cultivating the passion fruit or hoeing around the roots of the plant, avoid doing it too close to the roots so as not to damage the stems of the roots of the passion fruit plant. Root damages will often result in root rot and will ultimately lead to the withering of the plant. To be on the safe side, it is advisable to remove the weeds close to the root of the plant by hand. There are various chemical desiccants that you can also use for weed control.
Pruning: Prune the plant by removing some tendrils and dead branches so as to boost the fruit production in the plant. In large commercial fruit vineyards, you need to carry out regular pruning so as to keep the plants in the best shape. Pruning the passion fruit plant will help boost the health of the plant in various ways:-
- By removing the dead wood from the passion fruit plant, you will help ensure proper disease control in the plant. Pruning the passion fruit plant also helps in stimulating the growth of the new laterals that will bear the fruit. Train the main leader of the passion fruit vine on the trellis and wire while training the laterals to make sure they will hand freely from the trellis or the wire. If a lateral reaches the ground level, prune it off at the ground level. Move the tends regularly to prevent entangling and ensure the laterals are hanging freely.
To avoid wasting the large spaces between the passion fruit plants, it is advisable to do some interplanting with plants such as onions, egg plants, carrots as well as various short term vegetables. You can do the interplanting during the first year when the plant is just getting established. Avoid interplanting with crops that will drain off the soil nutrients such as bananas, maize and sugarcane.
Managing Pests and Diseases
Make sure you fully understand the various passion fruits pests and diseases that you will grapple with before you venture into passion fruit farming. There are beneficial and harmful insects that you need to acquaint yourself with. Some of the harmful insects include the mealy bugs, passion fruit mite, aphids and fruit flies. Check out our Passion Fruit Farming Guide for the full range of pests and diseases that you will grapple with.
Harvesting Passion Fruit
The passion fruits will mature 10 weeks or 70 days after the fruits have set. They will begin showing a prominent purple or golden colour depending on the variety of the passion fruit you are planting. Mature fruits should easily fall on the ground when the fruit is shaken although there are now mechanical devices that you can use to manually pick the passion fruits without using a ladder.
Harvest the passion fruits during the early morning and make sure you keep them in cool conditions as much as possible when handling them. In a much hotter environment, harvest the passion fruits at least twice or thrice in order to protect the passion fruits from the scorching effects of the sun. Take extra care to avoid bruising the passion fruits as this is likely to reduce their market value. For example, place them passion fruits gently into the containers instead of simply dropping them which causes some bruising.
Packing and Marketing Your Passion Fruits
Because the passion fruits will be wet when you harvest during the mornings, wipe them gently to dry them out or simply leave them to dry before packing them in cartons. Discard all the fruits that are either damaged or which have shrivelled. Lastly, grade the fruits according to size by using labels such as “small”, “medium” and “large”. In some areas, there may still be a market for the shriveled passion fruits.
Marketing Your Passion Fruits
There are excellent opportunities for marketing your passion fruits locally but in the recent years, new market opportunities have risen in places such as continental Europe, Japan and China. Make sure you pack the passion fruits according to the specifications of the importers and market the count and approximate weights of the passion fruits.