How to Start Bittergourd Farming – Package of Practices 

Crop: Bitter gourd

Scientific name: Momordica charantia

Common name/Vernacular name:

  • Bitter melon,
  • Bitter apple,
  • Karela,
  • Bitter squash,
  • Balsam-pear.

Economic importance of Bitter gourd:

The fruit has a high germicidal effect and used as a laxative. It is used for curing blood diseases, rheumatism, and diabetes. Its juice contains important nutrients like iron, magnesium and potassium and vitamin C. 

List of bitter gourd Hybrid varieties:

  • CoBgo H1,
  • PUSA Hybrid-1,
  • PUSA Hybrid-2.

List of bitter gourd Local varieties:  

  • PUSA Do Mausmi,
  • Arka Harit,
  • Coimbatore Long,
  • VK-I (Priya),
  • MDV- l,
  • Pusa Vishesh.

Pre sowing Package of Practices in Bittergourd Farming:

Land preparation in Bitter gourd:

It is a tropical crop grown in hot-arid regions. Temperature range of 24o– 27oC is optimum for its growth. Bitter gourd can be grown on well-drained sandy loam or black soils high in organic matter. The pH of soil ranges from 7.0 to 8.5. The soils must possess good drainage facilities. Land is ploughed to a fine tilth and make it free from clods. Form pits of 60 cm diameter and 30-40 cm depth are made at a spacing of 2.5 x 2.5 m.  Well decomposed farmyard manure @ 25 t/ha is applied in pits and filled with soil up to 3/4th.

Sowing time and seed rate for bittergourd:

            Generally, the summer crop is sown from January-February, while the rainy season crop is sown in May. For planting one hectare 4.0-5.0 kg of seed is required.

Seed treatment: Before planting seed treatment with Thiram at the rate of 3 g/kg of seed.

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Nutrient management in Bittergourd farming: Nutrient requirement for bitter gourd depends on variety, soil fertility, climatic conditions and season of planting. Well rotten Farmyard Manure (20-25 t/ha) is mixed with soil and sand during ploughing. Nutrient requirement per hectare is 50-100 kg N, 40-60 kg P2O5 and 30-60 kg K2O. Half the N and entire P & K should be applied as a basal dose. The remaining N is applied at the time of flowering. It is applied in a form of the ring at 6 cm from the base of the stem.

Water management in Bittergourd farming: During the rainy season, irrigation is not necessary at all, when rainfall is thoroughly distributed between July and September. Generally, ridges are irrigated a day before planting of seeds and the next irrigation is given 4 or 5 days after planting of seeds. Subsequently, the irrigation is given at seven days intervals. Moisture should be well maintained at the root zone, to promote rapid root development.


Plant support in Bitter gourd/ Stacking in Bittergourd farming:

            Bitter gourd needs support for its growth since it is a weak climber. The plants trailed on the bower continues to give yield for 6-7 months. In the bower system, planting is done with a spacing of 2.5 x 1m distance. Wooden poles of 3-4 m height are pitched on both the ends of furrows and these poles are connected with wires. The wires along the furrows are again connected with cross wires to form a continuous network of wires. Seeds are dibbled at 1 m along the furrow and covered with soil. Once the grown vines reach the bower height, the new tendrils are trailed on the bower.

Weed management in Bitter gourd/ Natural weed control in Bitter gourd: Generally, the first weeding is done one month after planting. Subsequent weeding is done at a monthly interval based on the intensities of weed growth.

Pollination in Bitter gourd: It is a cross-pollinated crop and hence it should have high insect activity. Bees are the major pollinating agents. Installation of beehives is necessary to get enough pollination and fruit set.

Crop Protection in Bittergourd farming – Package of Practices

Insect pest Management in Bitter gourd:

Fruit flies in Bittergourd: Bactrocera cucurbitae:

Signs/ symptoms of insect pest: The young maggots feed on the pulp of the fruits leads to the oozing of resinous fluids. It leads to distortion and deformation of fruits and becomes unfit for human consumption.

Chemical control: Application of carbaryl 0.15% or malathion 0.1% controls this pest. Mixing methyl eugenol + malathion 50 EC at a ratio of 1:1 and keeping 10 ml of the bait in polythene bags at the rate of 25/ha.

Natural/biological control of insect pest: Planting ribbed gourd as a trap crop. Attractants like citronella oil, eucalyptus oil, vinegar, and lactic acid are used to trap flies.

Pumpkin beetles/ Red Beetle: Aulacophora foveicollis

Signs/ symptoms of insect pest: Grubs feed on the roots and adults feed on leaves and flowers.

Chemical control: Spraying of malathion 50 EC @ 500 ml per hectare is recommended.

Natural/biological control of insect pest: Summer ploughing, collection, and destruction of pupae are effective.

Pumpkin caterpillar of Bittergourd: Diaphania indica

Signs/ symptoms of insect pest: Larva scrapes the chlorophyll content of the leaves, folds, webs and feeds within. It also bores int fruits and flowers.

Chemical control: Spraying of Dimethoate 30 EC @500 ml/ha is recommended.

Natural/biological control of insect pest: Encouraging the activity of Apanteles sp parasitoid. Collection and removal of larva and pupae.

Disease Management in Bitter gourd:

Downy mildew disease of Bittergourd: Pseudoperonospora cubensis

Signs/ symptoms of insect pest: Pale green areas separated by dark green areas resemble the mosaic appear on the leaves. The corresponding lower surface gets covered with purplish fungal growth.

Chemical control: Spraying with Moncozeb 0.2 % or Ridomil MZ 72 0.1% is recommended.

Natural/biological control of insect pest: Bed system with wide spacing and good drainage facilities prevents disease development.

Powdery mildew disease of Bittergourd: Erysiphe cichoracearum

Signs/ symptoms of the insect pest: White powdery growth is found on upper and lower surfaces and stems.

Chemical control: Spraying wettable powder @ 0.1 % is recommended.

Maturity indices of Bitter gourd:

            The peel must have even colour when harvested, ranging from light green to dark green, depends on the varieties. The fruit is harvested before the skin starts to change yellow colour.

Harvesting and Yield of Bitter gourd:

Bitter gourd harvesting: The fruits are ready for harvest at 60 days after planting. Harvesting can be done in the morning hours.

Yield of Bitter gourd: For varieties, the yield is about 14 t/ha and for hybrids is 40 t/ha.

Post-harvest management of Bitter gourd:

Grading: The fruits are graded based on size and colour. Usually, 20-25 cm long fruits with a short neck is preferred.

Packaging: The fruits are packed in wooden boxes. Neem leaves or newspaper is spread as padding material at the bottom before packing.

Storage: Before marketing, they are temporarily stored in shade conditions.

Marketing of Bitter gourd: Usually, it is marketed in nearby wholesale markets.

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Economics of bitter gourd:

Cost of cultivation: Rs.25, 000/ac

Income: Rs.1, 60,000/ac

Net return/ profit: Rs.1, 35,000/ac

Summary of Bitter gourd farming: It is a highly profitable crop with high returns. For further queries on bittergourd farming package of practices, comment below.

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