The short rains are here with us once again. If you as a farmer have been thinking of becoming a great passion fruits farmer, this is the time.
Passion fruits are known to make the best juice and this makes the demand for export very high consequently making the price go high. Due to its acidity nature, passion fruit is highly recommended for juice blending. Passion fruit is commercially produced here in Kenya and is ranked third in categories of fruits exported. This is more reason farmers should establish passion fruits orchards.
There are two common species that are grown commercially in Kenya. The purple passion fruit is heavily grown in the highlands of Kenya mainly because of its flavor and aromatic taste while the yellow passion fruit is mostly grown `in the coastal region mainly for juice extraction due to its high acidity.
Now that the farmer knows where to establish the fruit farm and the two varieties that fits his location, lets learn how to make the best out of it. A light joke is made “passion fruits are like tourists”, they do well when there is enough light and sunlight. With the purple passion fruit, you can have more than three harvesting seasons and a long harvesting season for the yellow passion. This only happens if there is enough water and sunlight.
Before embarking on fruit farming, it is always right to conduct soil test and adjust if need be. Oxfarm Organic conducts soil test at very favorable prices.
I want to take you through how you establish a passion fruit orchard without much struggle and capital. I will assume you have a quarter acre of land ready to make your own orchard.
Requirements; you need about150-200 grafted seedlings from Oxfarm Organic Ltd. You can grow your own seedlings from seed but the disadvantages are enormous. Yellow passion fruit plants are drought resistant and are also disease resistant. So, Oxfarm organic and other modern farmers have invented a way of grafting the purple fruit with the yellow passion fruit. The purple is grafted on top of the yellow passion fruits which is used as rootstocks. Purple passion fruit is the darling of the market. One grafted seedling goes for Ksh 70 at Oxfarm Organic ltd. Since passion fruit is a climbing plant, you need two rolls of barbed wire, nails and around 240 pole to suspend the vines. The seedlings should be spaced by 3 by 3 feet and the holes filled with top soil mixed with compost manure. After all this is done and you have acquired your seedlings, it is time for transplanting.
Passion fruit plants have deep roots and proper harrowing is necessary to ensure the roots don’t hustle with the hard pans in the soil. Your relationship with your passion fruit orchard must have commitment if you are to enjoy the fruits of the passion plant. Prune unproductive shoots and dead wood. Passion fruits tend to have whiskers like cats, called tendrils; these must be pruned to allow for free air and light penetration and reduce incidences of diseases and pest epidemics.
In four to five months if the required care is carried out, you are ready for your first harvest abnd your ¼ Acre is likely to give you 2500Kg/ha the first year and 6000kg/ha in the subsequent years. When the fields register sharp declines in the fourth and the third years, its best for the farmer to replace his fields.
Passion fruits go for more than ksh 80/kg in major towns. The export market fetches further prices because it is the best. Grade one is the one that is three-quarter ripe, smooth with no bruises and of the standard size. The other grades include what is commonly found on our Kenyan markets. However, we all know the passion fruits with wrinkles are very sweet.