RAYMOND — The US passion fruit industry is small researchers, but a team of people want to help it grow through a grant awarded to Mississippi State University.
Eric Stafne, fruit and nut specialist with the MSU Extension Service, is leading a research project aimed at gathering input from growers, marketers, consumers and buyers. The research team wants to better understand the current industry and its future direction.
“Passion fruit is a niche crop with potential for expansion in climate-change-affected regions of the country,” said Stafne, who is also a researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. “Demand is growing, and the crop can potentially grow well in south Mississippi. We want to learn how we can assist those who may want to grow, sell and buy these fruits.”
Passion fruit is a low-calorie, nutritious tropical fruit. However, some varieties can be grown in subtropical climates. It is grown commercially in the US in Florida, California, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
People interested in growing and selling passion fruit are encouraged to participate in a voluntary survey and an upcoming conference.
The results of the survey will help the team plan for future research, extension education and grant applications that can help address issues with insects, diseases, disorders, postharvest handling and cultural practices.
Interested individuals can take the online survey at https://bit.ly/39YcYfd. Deadline to complete the survey is June 30.
The conference, Growing the US Passionfruit Industry, is scheduled for June 14 and 15 in Homestead, Florida.
Conference organizers want to learn about and discuss the current US industry, identify key challenges, and begin development of a strategic plan to overcome challenges faced by growers, propagators, marketers and stakeholders. Attendees can also see demonstrations in local vineyards.
To register and for more information about the conference, visit the University of Florida registration web page at https://bit.ly/3z2j1Kw.
Research project participants include researchers and Extension personnel from MSU, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of California-Davis, University of Puerto Rico and US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. The project is funded through a Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.