Farmers who plant a grafted purple passion with yellow passion rootstock have high chances of preventing nematodes from attacking their crops hence improving their harvests and income.
“Purple passion is mostly affected by nematodes which are soil inhabitants that cause yellowing of leaves, stunting and eventual wilting of the affected plants. This is why we use yellow passion as the rootstock which is more tolerant to nematodes,” said David Gitonga, an agronomist at Oxfarm, a company that deals with selling of seedlings of all types of fruit trees, management of various farms and organic farming among others.
Gitonga says that there is a need to educate farmers on how to maximize on purple passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) production because it is the preferred variety in various markets both local and international.
“Despite the fact that many farmers prefer cultivating this variety, they are yet to know how they can, from the onset, prevent the fruit from the risks of pests and diseases attacks. The Perennial climbing vine is loved by most growers as it is good for fresh market and Juice extraction for local and export markets,” said Gitonga.
According to the National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS), purple passion is the most important in fruit juice industry as it can be used to extract the pulp and juice besides being eaten fresh indicating a wider range of application that translates to a wider market reach for growers.
In addition, a wide range of cosmetic products and food flavours are derived from the fruit as the fruits are rich in vitamins A and C and carotene making it an important food.
However, though commercial farming of purple passion fruit begun in Kenya in 1933, farmers especially, smallholders are still devastated by easily-spread pests and diseases such as nematodes.
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How to graft the two varieties
First, seedling rootstocks of yellow passion fruit are grown until they are at least 50cm high and 3-4mm thick.
Then healthy seedlings with dark green leaves are selected for grafting.
Scions from healthy high yielding true-to-type vines of purple passion fruit are collected preferably when the plants have flowered. Scion mother plants should be raised in areas protected against sucking insects, to reduce incidences of disease.
Seedling propagators should not that sterilization of grafting equipment between grafts must be practiced (use jik).
“Apart from sterilization, we recommend the two methods of grafting that can be used. These are cleft (most common) and splice,” said Gitonga.
Gitonga can be reached through 0706222888