There are many crops that yield good income to the farmer and Passion Fruit is definitely one of them. This vine bears delicious fruits that are either yellow or purple in color. Since it is a lucrative business to grow passion fruits for domestic as well as export market, let us understand some basics about growing this fruit.
Know about Passion Fruit
Passion fruit is a roundish fruit that grows on vines and is available in yellow and purple variety. Both the varieties are acidic in nature and excellent source of vitamins A and C as well as carotene. The fruit is best eaten in fresh form or after extracting the pulp and making delicious juice. There are many uses of the pulp and juice alike, in cosmetic and food industry. The addition of the fruit gives unique taste to dishes and many food flavors are obtained from this wonderful fruit.
Its utility in food and cosmetic commercial industry has prompted many farmers to take up passion fruit farming and there is a growing demand in domestic and export market for this versatile crop.
The purple variety grows better at higher altitude. They are acidic with variable taste and juice capacity. Initially green in color, they are round and once ripe have an intense aroma. On the other hand, the yellow variety is bigger, rounder, more acidic and less aromatic. Both the varieties are pretty similar in taste. The yellow type gives higher yield and is more capable of fighting plant diseases.
Ideal conditions for growing Passion fruit
Passion fruit grows well in wide range of altitudes ranging from 1200 to 2000 meters above sea level, depending upon the geographical location. The ideal temperature range for purple passion fruits is 18⁰C to 25⁰C and for yellow fruits it is 25⁰C to 30⁰C.
The fruit requires evenly distributed rainfall of 900 mm to 2000 mm through the year. Excess rainfall damages the crop. Thus, in regions with heavy rainfall, care should be taken to see that the soil is well drained and there is no water logging. Heavy rains can decay the leaves and fruits and reduce the yield.
For a good crop, there needs to be balanced soil with adequate nutrients and fertility with a pH count of 6.0 to 6.5. Lesser pH means acidic soil and that indicates easy wilting of the vine and destruction of the crop. In order to protect this, it is essential to put manure and lime at the plant roots as well as the entire field, so that the soil acidity is reduced considerably.
Planting and caring
Passion fruit can either be cultivated from seeds or by grafting method. However, grafting method cultivation has better results. After being removed from pulp and dried, the seeds take about 4 weeks to germinate and they are initially planted in plastic bags with approximately three seeds per bag. After germination, they are thinned out to only one plant. The young plant needs four months to reach the transplanting stage. From seven weeks after the transplanting is completed, the plant should have around four healthy side stems.
The most suitable time for transplanting is just at the onset of rainy season. The plants should be planted in well tilled soil, since the roots of passion fruit go very deep down. The field should have posts with wire trellises ready to support the growing vines with fruits. The vines should have sufficient place to grow in both directions.
Since passion fruit grows on vines, it needs ample space to spread out for a healthy growth. For this reason, the plants are spaced out at 3 meters from each other and there is a distance of 2 meters between each row. Horizontal and vertical trellises help in supporting the growing vines and thus should be of proper thickness like 9 to 10 gauge of galvanized steel. The posts on which the trellis is raised should be stout and deep rooted in soil so that they can easily withstand strong winds and the weight of vines and fruits. Ideally, the posts are 45 to 75 cm deep in ground and raise the trellis up to a height of minimum 1.5 meters.
A north-south orientation of trellis ensures that the plants get sufficient sunlight and proximity to other vines encourages cross-pollination.
Precautions for getting a better yield
Mixing about 20 kg of manure with 175 grams of TSP (Triple Super Phosphate) and spreading it around the field at the time of plantation assures a healthy crop. Two applications of 150 grams each per year (Total 300 gm) of CAN (Calcium Ammonium Nitrate) during rainy season protect the plants from decay and disease. Spraying of pesticides on leaves is also recommended for added protection.
When the plants are first transplanted, it is necessary to weed the ground. Since the crop does not last for more than three years, it is advisable to plant other plants in rotation so that the soil remains enriched and disease free.
Be vigilant and prune any decaying part to maintain the plant healthy and high yielding. Timely spraying and application of insecticides ensure that there is no infection and the crop is well maintained.
For local market use, the fruit s harvested when it changes color. From raw green it turns to either yellow or deep purple. The pulp is bright yellow and has small black seeds. As far as fruit harvesting for processing is concerned, it is allowed to fall to the ground and then collected very alternate day after it shrivels up a bit. This does not hinder its efficiency for processing.
Passion fruit vines give a good, healthy yield for almost three years, after which the strength of the plant diminishes and so does the harvest. These vines have a capacity of giving yield of 15 to 20 tonnes per hectare and thus generate good income for the farmer.
As we can see, passion fruit farming is a very good income source for the farmer and with simple precautions and proper planning he can get excellent crop for domestic and export markets.