Mkulima today take an extra minute to look and take care of your passion fruit. The big question and elephant in the room is what those brown spots on passion fruits mean and the remedy. Among other things they mean, the fruits have been infected by a deadly fungal disease.
Carol a farmer from Kiambu County sent me some photos from her passion fruit farm asking for help and support diagnosing the problem and provide a solution.
From the pictures, it was clear that she had put some effort into fruit management. Like weed control, training, and manure application.
However, she had not observed the right spacing distance. This is one of the major issues that promote pest infestation and diseases in passion fruit farming.
You could also tell that the fruits had conspicuous sunken circular lesions with brown spots.
This is a sign of a disease that affects passion fruits called brown spots and is caused by Alternaria passiflora or Septoria spot. Here are some of the remedy for brown spots on passion fruits
The fungal disease affects the leaves, stems, and fruits of the plant.
First, the brown spots appear on the leaves which enlarge and develop a lighter colored central area and become irregular in shape.
The ring around the diseased fruits becomes wrinkled and finally drops. The disease is severe in warm and wet conditions so be careful during this period or if you are in a hot and wet climate.
On the stems, the diseases develop elongated dark brown lesions mainly near the leaf axils where the stems have rubbed against the supporting structure for example wire, timber, or ropes.
It causes significant loss of yields due to leaf damage and makes the fruits not fit for processing.
To prevent the occurrence of the disease you should plant resistant varieties that are not easily affected and talk to a professional.
For instance, yellow passion fruits are more tolerant as compared to the purple variety.
Observe the inter-row and intercrop distance to allow for proper air circulation and quick drying of leaves.
Appropriate spacing of the crops should be 3m by 2m.
Regular pruning of the fruit vines should be done to ensure to remove dead, weak vines to allow for better air circulation and the proper penetration of fungicide.
All the plant debris should be collected and burnt to avoid the further spread of the infection. Maintain nutritional status of the crop through the application of fertilizer to ensure the crop has all the nutrients that it needs.
Chemicals with active ingredients of Mancozeb and copper-based fungicides can be used in the control of the diseases and guarantee a bumper harvest.
Apart from the disease we have been discussing above, passion fruit farmers experience other issues such as flower abortion caused by among others poor pollination.
It would be a good idea at this point to have bees helps your plants in pollination. It is a sure way to have pollinated plants while at the same time earning you cash from honey.
One of the main causes of poor pollination is as a result of low or little wind movement.
Though time-consuming and labor-intensive on a big farm, you can do human-induced pollination by shaking the plant and the flowers gently.
Boron deficiency also results in flower abortion. To help avoid this you need to ensure the use of quality fertilizers and proper application.
This will help ensure all the micronutrients are available for the plant.
You should also look out for thrips. These tiny insects feed on the flowers causing them to drop. We don’t want this since at the point of harvest we will have reduced yield.
The insects should be controlled by maintaining proper field and farm hygiene. Biological products such as Special can be used in pest control and management.
Chemicals such as Abamectin also help in the control of mites. Sometimes one gets fruits that produce little juice, this is normally due to inadequate water and nutrients during the plants’ growth period and fruit formation.
It is therefore essential to ensure the soil is moist by providing adequate water to the plant. Passion fruits are usually ready for harvest after a period of 6 to 8 months. The peak harvesting period is on the 18th month after transplanting depending on the variety that you planted.
The purple passion variety can be harvested while still attached to the plant unlike the yellow variety, which is best harvested when the fruits fall to the ground.
Yellow passion fruit is most preferred for processing juice because it’s juicier compared to the other varieties.
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