Passion Fruit: Harvest, Yield and Storage

Passion Fruit (Passiflora)

James Mwangi Ndiritu

Environmental Governance and Management, Agribusiness consultant

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When and How to Harvest Passion Fruit

Ripening: The developing passion fruit remains green until it reaches full maturity. At this point, it undergoes a rapid color change within a few days. When ripe, both yellow and purple passion fruits naturally fall to the ground, but this does not cause damage to their thick skins. Once the passion fruit falls, both purple and yellow varieties start losing moisture and can quickly become wrinkled if exposed to hot and dry conditions. While the juice inside these fruits remains wholesome, their unattractive appearance makes them unsuitable for the market. However, clean and undamaged fruit can be stored in polyethylene bags at a temperature of 10°C (50°F) for up to three weeks without any significant loss in quality. 

Picking maturity of passion fruit

The maturity of passion fruit refers to the stage at which the fruit has fully developed and is ready for consumption or harvesting. It is an important factor in determining the fruit’s taste, texture, and quality. The maturity of passion fruit can be identified through several indicators:

  • Color: Passion fruit changes color as it matures. The exact color depends on the variety, but common colors include green, yellow, and purple. The fruit reaches its peak maturity when it has achieved its characteristic color. The skin should have changed from green to ≥75% yellow or purple
  • Texture: A mature passion fruit should have a firm yet slightly yielding texture when gently squeezed. 
  • Weight: As the fruit matures, it tends to become heavier due to the increase in juice content. The weight of the yellow passion fruit can range from 50 to 150g (1.8 to 5.3 oz). For the purple fruit, the weight eagles from 25 to 50 g (1 to 2 oz)
  • Wrinkling: In some cases, passion fruit develops slight wrinkles or fine lines on the outer skin as it reaches maturity. 
  • Aroma: The intensity of the aroma increases as the fruit matures.
  • Moisture Content: The fruit is normally ready to be picked when it has a moisture content of about 80 % or less.

The exact signs of maturity can vary depending on the variety of passion fruit. Farmers and experienced growers often rely on a combination of these indicators to determine the optimal time for harvesting. The passion fruit usually comes into fruiting about 12 to 18 months after transplanting, depending on the size of the plants at transplanting. Another indication is that fruit matures approximately 70-75 days after flowering ( Robert et Ching, 2014).

The following procedure may be applied to determine maturity: 

  • Pick a representative sample of fruit that has already attained the average mature size of the cultivar concerned. Store the fruit at room temperature until it ripens. Experience is an important factor in determining the picking maturity. If there is any doubt, it is better to wait than to harvest prematurely.

How to Harvest Passion Fruit

Harvesting; While picking the fruit directly from the vine is possible, it can be challenging to ensure that the fruit is fully ripe on the inside. Therefore, it is advisable to regularly collect the fruit that has fallen to maintain its postharvest quality. Ripe passion fruit remains firm, but it starts to wrinkle over time as it loses water primarily from the peel. 

Harvesting the fruit just before or immediately after it drops is recommended to ensure optimal taste, as picking unripe fruit from the vine results in an unpleasant “woody” taste. Always handle fruit carefully during harvesting and packing because fruits are bruised and scratched easily. Fruit pickers should wear gloves when harvesting fruits to ensure their fingernails do not scratch the fruits. The fruit should be cut off and not pulled from the trees. Using suitable equipment will prevent unnecessary damage to the fruits, save labor, and be safer for laborers. 

Export market-destined fruit should be harvested twice a week before the fruit falls naturally from the vine. Fruit intended for the fresh market should not be allowed to drop to the ground,

particularly if it is destined for export. In the case of manual harvest, the farmer needs to cut the fruit off the vine. Each fruit stem must be cut back with a sharp knife or clippers to 4 to 6 cm long to prevent water loss. Passion fruit should never be harvested when wet, as this will encourage the spread of disease!

Handling; Healthy fruit should be carried in canvas picking bags. To avoid compression, you need to put up to 15 kg of fruits per harvest container. The bags must be clean inside. Do not carry many fruits in such a picking bag at one time. Fruits high in the tree may be reached by a tripod ladder. Fruit should be taken one by one from the picking bag by hand and placed in the trays/ cartons. Take special care when transporting fruit to the pack house. Trays containing fruit and awaiting transport should be kept in the shade under the trees. If there is not enough shade, the fruit should be covered with empty trays and placed upside down. 

Do not spread a tarpaulin over the trays because it will reduce ventilation and cause the temperature below it to rise. Harvested fruit should be removed from the orchard as soon as possible. It is important to pack and dispatch the fruit to the market or to place it in cold storage on the day it is harvested. Each fruit stem must be cut back with a sharp knife to a length of 6 to 12 mm. 

harvest passion fruit

Ripened passion fruit dropped at the ground.

Credit: Ali Sarkhosh, UF/IFAS

Preparation of Passion Fruit for the market

 To minimize unnecessary damage, handling passion fruit as little as possible is recommended. When preparing passion fruit for the market, several steps should be followed:

  • Cleaning: Passion fruit should be cleaned to remove any dirt, debris, or residue on the outer surface. This can be done by gently rinsing the fruit with water.
  • Waxing (optional): Some growers or distributors may apply a thin wax layer to the fruit. This can help enhance the fruit’s appearance and provide a protective coating. However, waxing is not always necessary and depends on market preferences and requirements.
  • Sorting/grading: Passion fruit should be sorted or graded based on factors such as size, color, and overall quality. This ensures consistency and uniformity in the final product. Sorting can be done manually or using automated machinery.
  • Packing: The sorted and graded passion fruit is then packed into appropriate containers or packaging materials. Common options include boxes, crates, or trays. The packaging should provide proper ventilation to prevent moisture buildup and maintain fruit quality.

Post-harvest care of passion fruit

When the crop is harvested, the farmer may believe that the job is done. Bruised or cut produce are likely to deteriorate or rot more rapidly than uninjured tissues, they should be separated and marketed or eaten first. Isolation of diseased organs from the non-diseased is useful to reduce the spread of rot. Harvesting fruits when they are not wet or having dew and when temperatures are not high reduces deterioration.

How much Passion Fruit Yield?

A one-year-old passion fruit vine typically produces between 5 and 15 pounds of fruit per plant. On an acre of land, the total yield of passion fruit can range from 2,200 to 4,400 pounds (1000-2000 kg), which translates to approximately 18,000 to 35,000 fruits. 

Grading and packing;

Purple fruit should have a diameter of 5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 in) and yellow 6 to 8 cm (2.5 to 3 in). It is important to take precautions against bruising.  Persons handling the fruit must wear gloves. The tables on which the fruit is placed must be clean and smooth. Grade fruit for export according to appearance. Fruit is suitable for export if it is virtually free of blemishes and has a regular shape. Fruit suitable for export is transferred to a different table. The fruit may now be treated with a suitable post-harvest fungicide and, after waxing, packed in a suitable box.

Transportation of Passion Fruit

Purple passion fruit is more suitable for long-distance transport when it is at the light-purple stage

Storage of Passion Fruit – How to Store Passion Fruit

Under ripe yellow passion, fruits can be ripened and stored at 7 to 10°C (45- 50°F) with a relative humidity of 85 to 90%. Ripening is too rapid at 20 to 30º C. At these temperatures, they have a storage life of 2 weeks. Ripe fruits can be kept keep for one week at 2.22º-7.22º C. Purple passion fruits are more tolerant and can be stored at 3 to 5°C (37 to 41°F) for 3 to 5 weeks. 

Yellow passion fruit has been tested with modified atmospheres (MA), which involve creating controlled gas compositions around the fruit during storage. It is recommended to apply a fungicide treatment before storage to maintain fruit quality. When stored at temperatures of 6 to 10°C (43 to 50°F) for a period of 3 to 4 weeks, the fruit exhibited reduced shriveling compared to non-MA storage conditions. Additionally, the use of film-bagging and various coatings has been found to be effective in reducing water loss in both yellow and purple passion fruit. These techniques help to maintain the fruit’s moisture content and prevent excessive dehydration during storage. In general, fruits stored in plastic bags at 5-10º C (41°F–54°F), have remained in good condition for two or more weeks. Wiping with paraffin and storing at 5º to 7º C and a relative humidity of 85 to 90% can prevent wrinkling and preserve quality for 30 days. 

Chilling injury in yellow passion fruit manifests through several symptoms, including changes in skin color, formation of pits, water-soaked areas, uneven ripening, and an increase in decay.

Postharvest Pathology and Disorders of Passion Fruit

The most common postharvest disease affecting passion fruit is brown spot, caused by the pathogen Alternaria passiflorae. This disease is characterized by the presence of circular, sunken, light-brown spots on ripening fruit. Brown spot tends to be more severe after warm and wet periods in the field. Another disease, known as Septoria spot (caused by Septoria passiflorae), infects the fruit in the field and results in uneven ripening of the skin. Phytophthora fruit rot (caused by Phytophthora spp.) causes water-soaked dark green patches on the fruit, which eventually dry up on the skin. To minimize the impact of these diseases, various measures can be taken such as maintaining orchard sanitation, reducing high humidity by pruning to open the canopy, and applying fungicides. Implementing these practices helps in controlling the spread and severity of these diseases in passion fruit cultivation.

Passion fruit is susceptible to chilling injury (CI), which occurs when the fruit is exposed to low temperatures. In yellow passion fruit varieties, CI can occur below 7°C (45°F), while in purple passion fruit varieties, it can occur below 4°C (39°F). Symptoms of CI include the formation of pits and sunken lesions on the fruit’s surface, uneven coloring of the skin, darkening of the pulp internally, development of off-flavors, and increased susceptibility to decay. The severity of CI depends on the temperature and duration of exposure. Lower temperatures and longer exposure times result in more significant tissue damage to the fruit. It is important to avoid exposing passion fruit to temperatures below the mentioned thresholds for extended periods to prevent or minimize chilling injury.

Estimated Costs & Returns from growing 1 acre of passion fruit

Item / Activity Cost Unit Cost  (USD)QuantityTotal (USD)
Soil test Sampled soil10110.00
Land preparation / cultivation Man days 1.501522.500
Digging holes Man days 1.501827.00
Manure 14 tonnes 1212144.00
Seedlings Seedling 0.75 750562.50
Fertilizer / T.S.PKg 0.357526.00
Trans planting Man days 1.501015.00
Weeding Man days 1.509.00
Trellising & training Man days 1.5069.00
Stakes/polesPoles 2.00200400.00
Wire/ rope Meters 152000300.00
Staples Kg1.101011.00
Digging holes for posts Man days 1.50 913.50
Training labor Man days 1.5057.50
Top dressing fertilizerKg 0.3510035.00
Top dressing labour Man days 1.5069.00
Insecticides Litres 20480.00
Fungicides kgs15460.00
Harvesting Man days 1.502030.00
Grading Man days 1.501015.00
Cooling Power 153450.00
Total variable costs 1,016.00
Interest on operating capital 10 %106.00
Add cost for years 2,3 & 4Various operation expenses900.00
Total variable costs2,200.00
Fixed costs
Implements Tools & equipment50150.00
Land charge Annual Rate 404 yrs160.00
Total fixed costs 210.00
Total fixed & variable costs 2,410.00
Management fees 7 % 704 yrs280.00
Total costs 2,690.00
Receipts/ harvest 
1st year Fruits 0.408000 kg3,200.00
2nd Fruits0.4010,000 kg4,000.00
3rd Fruits0.4015,000 kg6,000.00
4th Fruits0.408,500kg3,400.00
Total receipts / yields8,300 kg16,600.00
Total costs 2,690.00
Net returns1,3910.00



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