Cultural Practices:

Good Agricultural Practices

 International regulations on food safety and social accountability in the production of fresh produce are becoming ever stricter. Consumers are becoming more and more particular about the quality, safety and reliability of the fresh products they buy. The main buying countries require the implementation of GAP. The GAP guidelines aim at producing a product that is safe, environment friendly and socially acceptable and of high quality. The following are the guidelines which are supposed to be implemented by the farmers and exporters.

  • Keep up to date farm production records inorder to maintain consumer confidence in food quality and safety.
  • Apply proper crop protection strategies in order to reduce the use chemicals.
  • Observe the required standards during pesticide application in order to protect the health and safety of the sprayer.
  • Observe the required standards during transportation, storage and disposal of pesticides in order to minimize detrimental impact on the environment while conserving nature and wildlife.
  • Observe hygiene requirements during harvesting and postharvest handling of produce.
  • Adhere to regulations of wages and employment act
  • Adhere to environment protection regulations.

 Land preparation

Deep ploughing is encouraged to open up the soil for aeration and good water infiltration. Strict crop rotation should be practiced to avoid build up soil borne pests and diseases. Planting holes are dug 60cm x 60cm separating the top and sub-soils two months in advance.

 Spacing

The recommended spacing is 2m between rows and 3m within rows.

Transplanting

It is highly recommended to plant purple passion fruit grafted on yellow passion rootstocks. Transplanting of grafted propagules is done at the beginning of rainy season preferably early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The seedling is covered just up to the poly- tube level, ensuring that the roots are not folded by pruning back long roots. In drier areas, watering, mulching, and in some cases, shading of young plants is required immediately after transplanting.

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Planting Materials

Clean -virus – free propagules are transplanted when about 60 cm high. Ensure you purchase grafted seedlings from certified seed dealers. Grafted seedlings have the following advantages;

  • Tolerance to soil borne  diseases e.g Fusarium wilt
  • Vigorous rooting system capable of efficient water and nutrient absorption
  • Long crop economic life span
  • Higher yields

Fertilizer Application

At planting mix the topsoil with at least a debe (16 kg) of Farm Yard Manure and 125 g of Double Superphosphate (46 % P2O5). Fill the hole with this mixture at least 3 weeks before transplanting. Planting should be done at the on set of long rains

 Top dressing is done in two splits. Apply 150 g of CAN per plant one month after transplanting and the next split at the beginning of the next rain season i.e 300gm of CAN per plant per year.

 Spraying with foliar feed and trace elements every three months is recommended.

Trellising

Passion fruit is trained on a trellis constructed from wire and posts. The posts should be 270cm long 15cm in diameter; These are firmed in 60cm – deep holes spaced  6m a part in the rows ,midway between the plants. All end posts must be supported by an anchor. A 10-12 gauge galvanized wire is fixed tightly to the top of each post in the row. Soon after transplanting, two healthy shoots above the graft union are trained up using sisal twines by twinning them regularly until they reach the wire at the top. All other shoots below the wire are removed regularly. After the trained shoots have reached the wire, the two trained shoots are wound carefully around the wire in opposite directions .While the shoots are growing along the wire, the secondary lateral shoots, which bear fruit, are left to hang downwards.

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Pruning

Old shoots, which are unproductive and all dead wood must be removed as close to the main vine as possible to encourage the growth of new laterals. Secondary shoots reaching the soil level have to be cut off about 15 cm above the ground .Vines should grow vertically to avoid a thicket of shoots. Entangling tendrils should be removed regularly to allow light penetration and aeration and reduce pest and disease infestation.

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Intercropping

During orchard establishment, intercropping with short-term annuals is possible .Suitable vegetable crops include spring onions and coriander but not beans as they harbor nematodes. Intercropping ensures maximum land utilization and also prevents soil erosion.

Crops for intercropping should be supplied with their own nutrition to avoid competing with Passion Fruits.

Cucurbits and other crops that are susceptible to Cucumber Mosaic Virus should NOT be any where near Passion Fruits orchard. These crops are hosts to viruses which cause woodiness virus in Passion Fruits.

Irrigation

It is very important to water the vine so as to keep it flowering and fruiting continuously. Lack of water may cause the flowers and fruits to shrivel and fall prematurely. During the dry season and in dry areas, the crop has to be irrigated for maximum yield and high quality fruits.

Maturity/ Harvesting

Harvesting of purple passion fruit starts in the eighth to twelfth month after transplanting .For the fresh market, fruits should be picked carefully when they change colour from green to purple, and  when the calyx has dried up ,leaving a short stalk attached. For processing, the fruits should preferably be allowed to drop on to clean mulch. During the rainy season they should be picked up every other day and kept in a cool place.

There are normally two harvesting peaks: July – August and December – January

 Below are some points to consider.

  • The stalk should be cut short at harvest to prevent damage to other fruit
  • Carefully observe and follow the pre-harvest interval (PHI) of any pesticide used
  • Collect all fallen fruit daily in the morning to avoid sun scorching
  • Harvest into plastic buckets preferably in the early morning between 9 am and 11 am or as soon as the fruit is dry
  • Do not bruise fruit by throwing into the bucket – place it gently into the container
  • Dry any wet fruit as soon as possible by air drying in a shaded place.

 Yields

Average yields of 25t/ha [10/acre] are attainable.

Post harvest handling

After harvesting, fruits should be placed in clean plastic or wooden containers and handled carefully to avoid bruising. Ensure to maintain cold chain delivery to collection center/ pack house

Pack house / Collection center Operations

Sorting

All field debris, diseased, damaged, immature, and over – mature fruits should be removed.

Cleaning

Use a clean dump cloth to wipe off any dirt on the fruits, taking care not to damage the skin by rubbing.

Grading

Fruits of good quality are graded according to size, color, and appearance.

Pre-cooling

Passion fruits destined for far markets should be cooled immediately after harvest to 5°c to 7°c. Forced air – cooling is recommended.

Packing

Packing is done in a single or double layer fiberboard cartons or trays, weighing between 2 and 5kg with an average of 46 to 48 fruits per box.

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Storage

Fresh produce should not be stored for more than 24 hours. However, a storage temperature of 5 to 7°C and a relative humidity of 85% – 90% should maintain the fruit in good condition for three to five weeks.

Transportation

Boxes must be packed firmly to prevent fruit friction and damage during transportation. The trucks should be covered and well ventilated.