The Cajamar Foundation conducted a study on passion fruit, also known as maracuya, to offer producers an analysis of this new productive alternative's viability and productive reality.
Juan Jose Hueso, specialist researcher in Fruit Growing at the Cajamar Foundation, spoke about the progress made at the Las Palmerillas Experimental Station on a trial with different species of the genus Passiflora. Between June and September 2019, a plantation with six species of the Passiflora family was established at the Experimental Station in a multi-span greenhouse with a vine and trellis conduction system. The six species tested were: granadilla (P. lingularis), Cerrado Ruby (P. edulis), yellow passion fruit (P. edulis f. flavicarpa), sweet passion fruit (P. alata), gulupa (Passiflora edulis f. edulis), and hybrid purple passion fruit (P. edulis f. edulis x colvilli).
The results of the analysis, which were published in Plataforma Tierra, stated that growing the crop in greenhouses helped it enter into production faster, improving its yields and the quality of the harvest, as is the case of pitaya or mango.
“These species are characterized by their rapid entry into production (5-8 months after transplanting) and can yield 15 to 50 or 60 tons per hectare per year. Conduction systems, such as trellises or vines, like the ones used for table grapes, are used for its cultivation.”
According to the study, the hybrid purple passion fruit (P. edulis x colvillii), which yielded medium-sized fruits of excellent quality, was the most productive species under greenhouse conditions. In addition, it is also better adapted to trellis cultivation. Hueso highlights that it had very fast growth and development after its transplant carried out in September 2019 and that it could achieve yields of nearly 60 t/ha in a little more than two years. "70 to 80% of this production's fruit weighed more than 80 grams with a total soluble solids content of 16 to 18 ºBrix."
The plantations have a short useful life in the main production areas because of the high pressure of pests and diseases, Hueso stated. “In the greenhouse, under our conditions, we had some damage by thrips but it was controlled with biological control. We introduced bumblebee hives into the greenhouses periodically for pollination purposes.”
This extensive and prolific first contact with these six varieties will now enter a second phase where researchers will work to optimize the production system, climate management and control, water and nutrient needs, pruning, and harvest methods to work this crop.