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Cultivation of Bitter Gourd


Climate : 
Bitter Gourd love light warm moist (20C to 30C). Don't love cool or very low temperatures. But it can sustain low temperatures. Requires warm climate and humidity to grow rigorously.

Soil: 
Loves well-drained soils like sandy loam soils with a high percentage of organic matter. Give high yields in soils which have pH 6.0 to 7.1(slightly acidic to near neutral is best 7 pH).Can adopt in a wide range of soils.

Seed: 
Approx 1-2 kg per acre seed required.1200-1650 plants required per acre.Select virus free and disease free seeds from the farmer. Soak seeds overnight before planting because of seed shell hardness.Approx seed germination time is 7 days.

Duration: 
Below 100-150 days under full sunlight.From 60 days flowers will start approx from 70 days harvest will start.

Spacing: 
If your soil contains more percentage of sand dig 30-60cm pits(length * width * height) for every 6-7 feet(pit to pit). Mix soil with compost/fym and fill the pits. If clay soil is more. start preparing raised bed(120cms) or mounds/hills.

Field Preparation:
Bitter Gourd needs more organic content in the soil. Grow green manure before the crop. Traditional practice is filling all pits with 8 tons of FYM or 5 tons of compost with 500 kg of Neem cake along with topsoil. 
http://www.ecosecretz.com/2017/12/5-effective-ways-to-enrich-soil.html?m=1
Bitter gourd loves to climb. So, it needs trellis with a height of 6 feet approx.

Sowing Method: 
Sow 4 -5 seeds in every pit/hill/mound. And thin to remain 3plants per pit or hill. 12 days old or 2 true leaves saplings 2 per pit/hill can be transplanted if grown in pro-trays.

Irrigation: 
Initial irrigation before sowing. Irrigation was required every week . Especially before flowering. Maintain specific time every day at least irrigating deep 20cm soil gives best results. Give mulch for soil if the climate is too hot outside.These plants don't like over irrigation.Overwatering, stagnation leads several viral/fungal diseases.
http://www.ecosecretz.com/search/label/Irrigation?m=1

Intercrops:
Relay intercepting can be done. Beans for fixing nitrogen, Sorghum and Corn to prevent root rot by controlling soil nematodes, Radish deters leaf-eating insects, fruit borers, Marigold, sunflower attract pollinators and deters bugs and beetles. Mint is said to help control ants, aphids, flea beetles, and rodents. Growing castor controls leaf miners.

Harvest: 
Tender fruits are harvested for eating purpose. Matured fruits are left like that for seeds.The average yield of 7-10 tons of harvest per acre.

Important Notes:
  • Lateral shoots(side stems) should be removed up to the height of trellis.
  • The(threading stem) should be removed because we are giving support to plant to climb trellis by tieing loosely with thread.
  • Prune the main stem after 12 nodes. This gives rise to many laterals. 
  • if female flowers are dropping without turning into fruit. We must do hand pollination with male flower by rubbing method or use a brush or using cotton rubbing on male than on the female.
  • Blossom rot caused by over hot weather, lack of moisture or calcium deficiency.
Male flower
 Female flower
Hand Pollination
 
Pest control:
  • Bacterial/viral infections occur due to water stagnation, over moist conditions and no proper circulation of air.
  • Four kg of Neem seeds are powdered and dissolved in 100 litres of water and filtered. Add 10 litres of cow urine and mix it with 50 gm of soapnut powder. Spraying this extract every 15 days will control many pests and diseases.
  • Install light traps one for every half acre from 6-10pm to overcome moths laying eggs and remove traps before bitter gourd flowers start to appear.
  • Spray diluted Neem oil for Aphids & Mealybugs.
  • Use traps for fruit fly.
Queries:

At what distance intercropping to be done?
For gourds relay intercropping need to be done I will explain relay intercropping with. Ex: At the flowering stage of beans need to transplant bitter gourd.Bitter Gourd will come after beans. Any legume can be grown.But before sowing gourd.

What distance should we sow intercrops?
If u grow beans just before harvesting (at time of flowering) need to transplant bitter gourd at 6feet distance plant to plant adjacent to beans.

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