Bitter gourd is believed to be originated in tropical Asia, particularly in the Indo Burma region. Bitter gourd is widely grown in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and tropical Africa. Bitter Gourd is used for cooking it when it is green or in yellow ripening stage. The chinese use Bitter Melon for its bitter flavor in stir-fries, soups, dim sum, and herbal teas. Bitter Gourd is a very popular vegetable throughout India. This a very common vegetable in India. In North India, it is served with yogurt on the side to reduce the bitterness, mixed with spices and then cooked in oil. In Southern India, it is used to prepare fries and in a variety of dishes which are delicious. Bitter gourd is well known for its medicinal values and its juice is to prepare many medicines.
Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.)
Co 1, MDU 1, COBgoH 1 (Hybrid), Arka Harit, Priya and Preethi are mainly cultivated
Bitter gourd is a warm season crop. The temperature suitable for its growth and flowering is 25-30°C. Bitter Gourd Crop can be grown in places of slightly lower temperature and high rainfall areas. As the bitter gourd seeds have a hard seed coat, germination is difficult to take place when the temperature is below 10°C.
Sandy loam soils rich in organic matter with good drainage and pH range of 6.5-7.5 is suited for bitter gourd cultivation. This crop requires a moderate warm temperature.
Planting is done on July and January.
Preparation of field
Plough the field to fine tilth and dig pits of 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm size at 2 x 1.5 m spacing and form basins.
Sow the seeds (5 seeds/pit) treated with Trichoderma viride 4 g or Pseudomonas fluorescens 10 g or Carbendazim 10 g/kg of seeds and thin the seedlings to two/ pit after 15 days.
Bitter Gourd is a very delicate creeper and so cannot tolerate drought or water stagnation as the plant gets rotten. Frequent irrigation is very necessary during flowering and fruiting stage so that the yield is high. if the plants are young and the weather is moist or during winter season watering should be done at 3-4 days interval and during fruiting stage watering should be done at 2 days interval.
Application of fertilizers
Apply 10 kg of FYM per pit (20 t/ha) 100 g of NPK 6:12:12/pit as basal and 10 g of N/pit 30 days after sowing.Apply Azospirillum and Phosphobacteria 2 kg/ha and Pseudomonas @ 2.5 kg/ha along with FYM 50 kg and neem cake @ 100 kg before last ploughing.
Quality seedling production
Bitter gourd is a direct sown vegetable but polythene bag nursery is more advantageous to get early marketing and to avoid more gap filling. Use 200 gauge poly bags of 10 cm diameter x 10 cm height for sowing the seeds. Transplant about 15 days old seedlings to the main field.
Pests and Management
- Jassid, White flies, Aphids (Empoasca sp., Bemisia tabaci, Aphis sp.)
These pests suck sap from the lower side of the leaf. Application of Neem oil emulsion 2.5% with garlic paste (20g/l)/ Malathion 50 EC (2ml/l) with garlic paste (20g/l) is a best control measure.
- Fruit fly (Dacus cucurbitae and Dacus dorsalis)
These pests spoil the crop by puncturing the vegetables with the ovipositor and inserting the eggs inside the vegetables. Maggots feed on these vegetables which get rotten . Application of Bait traps with Carbofuran granules, Malathion 50 EC (2 ml per litre) are the solution to control this pest. Field sanitation is a good control measure.
- Epilachna beetle (Epilachna sp.)
Both adult and grubs scrape the leaf lamina and skeletonise the leaves. Malathion 50 EC (2 ml per litre) should be applied to control the pests.
- Pumpkin Caterpillar, Semi looper (Margaronia indica and Plusia peponis)
These pests spoil the crop by Feeding on the leaves and making holes in the vegetables. 1l Kiriyath extract + 1l of cow’s urine in 10 litres of water and adding 10 g of green chilli paste is a good control measure.
- American serpentine leaf miner (Liriomyza spp.)
These pests eat away the chlorophyll of the leaves leaving snake like white scars on the leaves. Application of Neem oil emulsion at 2.5% is a good control measure.
- Pumpkin beetle (Aulacophora foveicollis)
These pests spoil the crop by feeding on the leaves and making holes in the roots. Application of neem cake and drenching the soil with Ekalux (2ml/l) is a good control measure.
Diseases and Management
- Downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora cubensis)
Yellow spots are formed on the upper surface of the leaves and water soaked fungal spots on the lower surface of leaves. Application of Dithane M-45 ( 4g/l) is a good measure to control this disease. Field sanitation is also a good control measure.
- Powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca fuliginea)
Ashy spots will be formed on the leaves and stem of the plants when the crop is infected with this disease. Application of Bavistin (4g/l) is a good control measure for this disease. Field sanitation is also a good control measure.
- Mosaic (Cucumber mosaic virus)
This disease causes yellow and green mottled appearance on the leaves. The control measure is to control the vector insects, White flies, jassids. Field sanitation is also a good control measure.
As bitter bourd is a shallow rooted crop, deep intercultural operations should be avoided. The field should be free of pits and hand weeding, hoeing should be done along with application of fertilizers.The Bitter Gourd crop needs 2-3 weeding operations in order to keep it free from weeds. It is better to give first weeding 30 days after planting. Mulching is commonly used culture practice for weed control of bitter gourd crop grown on raised beds.
Its good to Apply plant growth regulators like MH (50-150 ppm) or CCC (50-100 ppm) or Ethrel (150 ppm) or Silver Nitrate (3-4 ppm) or Boron (3-4 ppm) litre of water) at 2-leaf stage or 4 leaf stage to increase the female flowers and yield.
Harvesting of bitter gourd starts 55-60 days after sowing. Picking should be done when Bitter Gourd are fully grown but still young and tender. Care should be taken that the seeds are not hard at the time of harvest. If the crop is good, 15-20 harvests are possible for bitter gourd plantation and harvesting is done twice a week. If the vegetables are allowed to ripen, the net harvesting will be adversely affected. Bitter Gourd after harvesting should be packed in thin gunny bags or directly packed in tempo and marketed. As far as possible the vegetables should be shifted to the market on the same day and care should be taken that the vegetables don’t get ripen after they are harvested.
Varieties: 14 t/ha in 140 – 150 days.
Hybrids : 40 t/ha in 180 days