Growing Considerations

Are you considering growing passionfruit? Is it because you would like an endless supply of passionfruit as a dessert topping, or the possible financial return? Here are some key factors that you should consider...

Objectives

  • a hobby. 
  • a lifestyle - an income but little or no investment return. 
  • as an investment.

It has been said that one person can look after 400 plants on a full-time basis. You must have the time to put into the crop i.e. spraying (fortnightly) during the growing season - from January to July depending on your locality, trailing the vines, harvesting the fruit from the ground before they get burnt from the summer sun, cleaning & grading the fruit for sale whether it be for export or the local market. Passionfruit require attention every day during the growing season, not just at weekends.

Key Success Features

The following Key Success Factors must be met for passionfruit growing to be viable:

  • the proposed site should ideally be north facing and frost free. 
  • passionfruit should be planted in rows running North to South 
  • free draining soil - passionfruit do not like "wet feet". 
  • adequate shelter established before planting to protect from wind damage. 
  • a soil test will determine the nutrients required for ideal growing conditions. 
  • adequate rainfall or access to irrigation during the growing period and dry spells. 
  • effective plant and machinery for spraying, mowing and other orchard activities. 
  • a suitable hygienic area available to clean, grade and pack the fruit. 
  • the greatest returns are received from exporting passionfruit. There are many New Zealand and overseas requirements relating to exporting Sub Tropical fruit which growers must comply with. Grower registration, Spray certification etc.

Passionfruit vines require a warm moist environment to thrive. Commercial passionfruit production is only possible in relatively frost free locations. However the vines will tolerate a slight frost of minus 1-2 degrees C for short periods. More severe frosts will kill the growing shoots, cause severe fruit damage and fruit drop.

Your orchard should ideally be established in a deep, well drained sandy loam. Poorly drained soils cause the vines to become susceptible to root disease which can rapidly kill the plants. Where natural drainage is inadequate a suitable drainage system should be installed before planting.

Indicative Set up costs

These can vary depending on the structure used to grow the vines. The following costings (May 2002) relate to the "A" frame structure with the apex being approximately one metre apart from the uprights. 

To hold all the above timber in place you will require six 100mm and twelve 75mm (decking nails) galvanised nails for each frame. Eight staples per frame are required to support the wire on the frames. 

To anchor the wire at either end of the row you require two deadman (two 1.8m posts) or two screw in galvanised 1.5m anchor. 

A coil of 2.5mm galvanised wire coil (to train the vines up between frames - eight wires on each frame for the vines and one just above the posts to carry an irrigation pipe) is required. An average coil of wire is 650 metres in length.

You also have to consider whether you will employ a contractor to ram the posts or dig the postholes yourself. Do you require the services of a fencing contractor, paid per hour, to tension the wires or do you have the necessary skill and fencing equipment to do the job yourself?

Passionfruit Plants propagated by a nursery are sold per plant. You can grow them from seed if you have a plastic house, the time, and allow for the cost of potting mix.

Risks and Returns

Passionfruit is a true subtropical and naturally only a short lived plant. Only the best sites in the more climatically favoured areas of New Zealand are suitable for commercial production. 

Please refer to the following article written by Horticultural Consultant - Pat Sale published in "The Orchardist" July 2003.