Passionfruit: Laying the Groundwork for an Emerging Specialty Fruit Crop in Florida

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2023: $383,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipients: University of Florida; Florida A&M University; The University of the Virgin Islands
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Ali Sarkhosh
University of Florida
Mark Bailey
University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Dr. Jonathan Crane
University of Florida/Tropical Research and Education Center
Stafford Crossman
University of The Virgin Islands
David Dinkins
University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Scienc
Dr. Islam El-Sharkawy
Florida A&M University
Vanessa Forbes
University of the Virgin Islands
Tatiana Sanchez
UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County
Dr. Steven Sargent
University of Florida/Horticultural Sciences Department


  • Fruits: passionfruit


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, nutrient management, water management
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management

    Proposal abstract:

    Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis) is a tropical/subtropical perennial vine with great potential to be grown in subtropical regions such as Florida. It is considered an emerging fruit crop both domestically and internationally. Passionfruit juice is an important source of dietary fiber, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), carotenoids (vitamin A), riboflavin, iron, potassium, and niacin. The fruit pulp can be consumed fresh along with the small seeds. Fruit on the wholesale market are reported to range from about $0.75–$2.00 per piece depending upon market conditions and other variables. The undiluted juice has a strong flavor and is an excellent additive for other juices and drinks. It can also be used in other value-added products including jams, jellies, frosting, ice cream, yogurt, wine, and pastry fillings, thus indicating its great potential for fresh and value-added markets.

    In the last few years, passionfruit imported from overseas are being sold at approximately $11/lb at some leading US supermarket chains, indicating the high demand in the domestic market and a farm gate value of $3 per pound easily achievable by farmers. Currently, Florida is estimated to have 150 acres in production, with most acreage located in the state's southern region. Florida could become a significant producer and meet domestic demand with high-quality passionfruit products. However, for passionfruit to become a substantial crop in Florida, there are several key areas where additional research is needed: 1) best management practices (training/pruning, irrigation, nutrition, cultivar performance); 2) pest control; 3) fruit harvest season and maturity, handling practices and fruit quality/shelf life; 4) production costs. Regions of Florida with intermittent freezing temperatures pose a significant threat to passionfruit production, and methods for adequate cold protection, such as high tunnel production, are needed. Productive cultivars with a wide range of desirable characteristics need to be determined. Accurate information concerning these areas will further help producers, processors, and retail establishments to maximize and retain the value of the crop. Marketing aspects of passionfruit is an area that needs substantial investigation to attract potential producers to plant this crop.

    An optimized cropping system is needed to maximize profitability and sustainability to support growers. We propose a three-year, multi-institutional, transdisciplinary, regional project with the University of Florida as the lead, collaborating with Florida A&M University, the University of the Virgin Islands, the University of Georgia, and Louisiana State University. Our systematic approach includes applied research and extension activities that will engage growers, industry stakeholders, and consumers to evaluate different cultivars and production systems and reduce barriers for producing and extending passionfruit production in the southern regions. Relevant information developed from this project will be made available to interested growers, with the goal of passionfruit becoming a profitable specialty crop in the south, central, and north-central Florida growing areas, and also other potential regions in the southern regions to permit an extended production window and develop a reliable and consistent supply chain.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Determine differences among germplasm lines and cultivars for disease and insect resistance, and fruit harvest maturity, yield and quality grown under both production systems.
    2. Understand the cultural practices required of purple-skinned passionfruit cultivars (edulis type) grown in southern Florida and the Virgin Islands under open fields, and in central and north-central Florida under both open field and high tunnel environmental conditions.
    3. Increase consistency of supply through improved harvest and postharvest management strategies to extend fruit shelf life and help growers handle their fruit better while improving their returns.
    4. Develop production management guidelines for best practices for growers.
    5. Educate growers on how to produce premium fruit with optimum yields for high value for both fresh and value-added markets.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.