RAYMOND, Miss. (WJTV) – The U.S. passion fruit industry is small, but a team of researchers want to help it grow through a grant awarded to Mississippi State University (MSU).

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. 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,” said Stafne.

Passion fruit is a low-calorie, nutritious tropical fruit. However, some varieties can be grown in subtropical climates. It is grown commercially in the U.S. 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 here. The conference, Growing the U.S. Passionfruit Industry, is scheduled for June 14 and 15 in Homestead, Florida. To register for the conference, click here.

Conference organizers want to learn about and discuss the current U.S. 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.