Bitter Gourd Farming Guide:
Introduction of Bitter Gourd:- Bitter gourd (Memordica charantia L.) is one of the most popular vegetable cultivated throughout Asia and extensively grown in India. This vegetable is also known as Bitter melon in other parts of the world. In India this vegetable is called as “Karela”. Basically Bitter gourd plant is a vine that has climbing nature and belongs to the family of “Cucurbitaceae”. Bitter gourd is popular due to its nutritious values, medicinal values and excellent health benefits. This vegetable is also used in herbal products. The taste of this vegetable is bitter due to the presence of ‘momordicine’. The commercial cultivation of bitter gourd is very successful because of its high market demand and value. Bitter gourd is mostly consumed as fresh juice apart from using in culinary purpose.
Medicinal Values and Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd:- These vegetables are low in calories and excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, manganese, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and beta-carotene. Bitter gourd has very high in dietary fiber as well. Bitter gourd contains a unique phyto-constituent that has been confirmed to have a hypoglycemic effect called “charantin”. In this vegetable, there is also another insulin-like compound known as “polypeptide P” which has been suggested as insulin alternative in some diabetic patients. Some of the excellent health benefits of Bitter gourd are as follows:
- Bitter gourd helps in preventing blood disorders.
- Bitter gourd helps in detoxification of blood and liver.
- Bitter gourd helps in diabetes patients.
- Bitter gourd is good for eye health.
- Bitter gourd boosts immune system.
- Bitter gourd helps in piles patients.
- Bitter gourd controls psoriasis.
- Bitter gourd prevents respiratory disorders.
- Bitter gourd helps in reducing hangover effect.
- Bitter gourd helps in weight control.
Bitter Gourd Production Countries in Asia:- India, China, Pakistan, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.
Local Names of Bitter Gourd in Asia:- Bitter Gourd/Bitter melon (English), Karela (Hindi), Kakara Kayi (Telugu), Pavakkai (Tamil), Haggala Kai / Hagara Kai (Kannada), Karela / Karola / Uchche (Bengali),Karela (Gijarati), Kaarathey / Karathen (Konkani), Karle (Marathi), Karala (Oriya), Karela (Punnabi, Assamese, Kashmiri,Tulu), Kho qua(Vietnamese), Ampalaya (Filipino),kyat hin khar thee (Burmese), කරවිල/Karawila (Sinhalese), 苦瓜 (Taiwanese), Karela (Nepali), Yeoju (Korean), 苦瓜 (Chinese), niga-uri(Japanese), کریلا (Urdu).
Varieties/Hybrids of Bitter Gourds:- Shape and colour of bitter gourd is different from each country. There are many varieties (cultivars) available throughout Asia. Co 1, MDU 1, Phule Ujwal, COBgoH 1 (Hybrid), Arka Harit, Konkan Tara, Priya, Hirkani, Priyanka and Preethi, Phule Green Gold, are mainly cultivated in India.
Climate Required for Bitter Gourd Farming:- Bitter gourd is a warm season crop usually likes moist hot weather. The optimum temperature range of 25°C to 30°C is best for its growth and yield.
Soil Requirement for Bitter Gourd Farming:- Bitter gourd can be grown on wide range of soils. However, Sandy loam soils rich in organic matter with good drainage and pH range of 6.5 – 7.0 is suited for bitter gourd cultivation. It grows well on silty soil on river beds.
Land Preparation, Seed Rate, Spacing and Plantation in Bitter Gourd Farming:- Land should be ploughed 2 or 3 times to make the soil fine-tilth and remove any weeds from previous crops. Seed rate depends on the variety grown and generally on an average 5 to 6 kg of seeds are required for 1 hectare land. The best season to plant bitter gourd is Jan to March and Sept to Dec months.
Seeds should be soaked for a day (24 hours) in solution of 25 to 50 ppm GA and 25 ppm boron to enhance the germination. Pits with size of 60 cm diameter and 35 to 45 cm depth should be dug. Well-rotten farm yard manure (FYM) and fertilizers should be mixed with top-soil and 4 to 5 seeds are sown in the pit at 2.5 to 3 cm depth. The seeds should be sown by dibbling method at a spacing of 1 meter x 1 meter. Unhealthy plants should be removed after 2 weeks and only 3 bitter gourd plants should be retained per each pit. Erect pandals when the plants start vining. Pandals have to be erected at a height of 5 to 8 feet using G.I. wire and bamboo sticks.
Propagation in Bitter Gourd Farming:- Propagation is done through seeds.
Manures and Fertilizers in Bitter Gourd Farming:- Proper, regular manure and nutrient application will result in good quality of fruits and higher yield. Supplement well-rotten farm yard manure of 25 tonnes per hectare land along with 1/2 dose of ‘N’ (35kg), full dose of P2O5 (25 kg) and K2O (25 kg).The remaining half dose of ‘N’ (35 kg) should be applied in several split doses at fortnightly intervals.
Irrigation in Bitter Gourd Farming:- Irrigation should be carried out @ 3 to 4 days interval during the initial stages of plant vine growth. It is crucial to irrigate alternate days at the time of flowering and fruiting stage. Irrigate the vines on need base, It does not require any irrigation rainy season or when there is a sufficient moisture in the soil. In case of flooding or heavy water stagnation, make sure to drain out the water. In case of water problem areas, drip irrigation would be the best choice to utilize the water effectively.
Intercultural Operations in Bitter Gourd Farming:- 2 to 3 hoeings should be carried out to control the weeds during initial stages of plant growth. Conduct weeding operation and raking of the soil at the time of fertilizer application. Usually, earthing up is done during rainy season.
Pests and Diseases in Bitter Gourd Farming:- The following are the pests and diseases found in bitter gourd farming.
Pests and Control Measures: The following are the pests found in bitter gourd farming.
- Mites: Spray dicofol 18.5 % SC @ 2.5 ml per litre of water.
- Aphid: Spray Imidachloprid @ 0.5 ml/lit along with sufficient quantity of stickers like Teepol, triton X100, apsa etc., for better adhesion and coverage.
- Beetles, fruit flies and caterpillars: These can be controlled by spraying Malathion 50 EC 1ml/lit.
Caution Note: Do not use DDT, copper and sulphur dust, as these are phytotoxic.
Diseases and Control Measures: The following are the diseases found in bitter gourd farming.
- Powdery mildew: This disease can be controlled by spraying Dinocap 1 ml / lit of water or Carbendazim 0.5 grams / lit of water.
- Downy mildew: This disease can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb or Chlorothalonil 2 grams / liter of water twice at 10 to 12 days interval.
Harvesting in Bitter Gourd Farming:- The harvesting in bitter gourd farming starts from 60 to 65 days after sowing the seeds. Harvesting should be carried out when fruits are young and tender at every alternate day. Fruits should be harvested carefully without damaging the plant vine. Unless, it grown for seed purpose, they should not be allowed to ripe on the vines. The harvested bitter gourd can be stored for 2 to 3 days in cool conditions.
Yield in Bitter Gourd Farming:- In most of the crops, yield depends on the cultivar (variety), soil type, climatic conditions and farm management practices. In bitter gourd farming, an average yield of 65 to 100 quintal/ha can be obtained.
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