A passion fruit suited for growing in the Caatinga

Fernanda Birolo / Embrapa The BRS Sertão variety is the product of genetic improvement of passion fruitFernanda Birolo / Embrapa

A variety of passion fruit developed for commercial planting was introduced by Embrapa in Petrolina, state of Pernambuco, in June 2017.  Known as BRS Sertão Forte, the variety was adapted for semi-arid climates that receive little rainfall. The new cultivar is the product of research that led to the genetic improvement of a wild species of the plant known as maracujá-do-mato or Caatinga passion fruit (Passiflora cincinnata), which occurs naturally in arid regions of the Brazilian Northeast but has low yield. BRS Sertão Forte retains the ability to survive in environments with little water—a special feature of the maracujá-do-mato—yet it produces larger fruit and higher yield per planted area. It also offers certain advantages over the purple granadilla (Passiflora edulis), the species most frequently planted in Brazil. The variety developed from the maracujá-do-mato has a longer productive life and shows good resistance to fusarium, a fungal disease that often attacks commercial passion fruit crops. “BRS Sertão Forte can be grown using low-cost technology,” explains agronomist Francisco Pinheiro de Araújo of Embrapa Semi-Arid, who was responsible for developing the cultivar, in a press release announcing the variety. “It is very well suited for family farming, and especially for organic production.”