New lighting tech increases availability of passion fruit in Taiwan

Taipei-In the future, Taiwanese will no longer have to wait until summer to buy passion fruit at local markets, thanks to lighting technology developed by a government-run agricultural technology research facility in southern Taiwan, according to the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA).

In Taiwan, passion fruit is mostly grown in Puli Township, Nantou County in central Taiwan, with the harvest lasting from July to September. As a result, the sweet seed-filled fruit is only available in markets from July to January the following year, according to the COA.

However, beginning this year the tropical fruit will be available all year-round. Orchard growers in southern Taiwan have been harvesting passion fruit they grew since late February, the COA's Kaohsiung District Agricultural Improvement Station, located in Pingtung County, said in a press release on Tuesday.

Over the past three years, the station has instructed orchard operators in the southern cities and county of Kaohsiung, Tainan and Pingtung on how to grow passion fruit in mesh houses, using artificial lighting as a substitute for sunlight, the release said.

Thanks to illumination adjustment technology developed by the station and its know how in orchard preparation and mesh house pollination techniques, passion fruit growers in the south are able to pick ripe fruit from February to June, before their counterparts in Puli begin their harvests in July.

"Technological research and development allows Taiwan to harvest passion fruit even in spring," the release said.

According to data from the agricultural improvement station, an estimated 100 hectares of "spring passion fruit" have been planted in Kaohsiung and Pingtung, with expected annual output of 2,000 metric tons.

In comparison, "summer passion fruit" are grown on 809 hectares of land across Taiwan, 604 hectares of which are in Nantou County, according to COA data.

Growers of spring passion fruit begin to prepare the soil and plant seedlings in September and October. With artificial lighting, they are able to harvest from February to June the following year, said Li Wen-hao (???), a researcher at the agricultural improvement station.

This also ensures the harvest is not impacted by typhoons and monsoon rainfall which are most prevalent from July to September in Taiwan, Li said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel