Complete details on snake gourd farming in India. Find snake gourd growing tips including best snake gourd varieties, snake gourd seed extraction, plant management, harvesting and yield for snake gourd farming.

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The snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina) is a creeping plant. It bears elongated twisted fruits and is generally consumed as a vegetable. The plant is cultivated all across south and south-east Asian countries counting India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, and China. The species is native to Australia, Africa and major parts of India. Growing well in Tropical countries, it produces greenish-white and whitish colour fruits that develop into 100-150 cm in length and 60-75 cm in diameter (approx). Backed by agricultural research, varieties of hybrid snake gourds are now grown in India, which have high demand and being exported overseas. In India, a number of smaller species of snake gourd with high yield also grow in abundance.

Snake gourd farming
Snake gourd farming

Snake Gourd Benefits for Health

Enriched with various minerals and dietary fiber, consumption of snake gourd offers a number of health benefits. Intake of snake gourd juice on a daily basis helps treat diabetic patients while its high containing fiber is great for people suffering from constipation and digestive disorder. It has high value anti-inflammatory properties and is preferred in diet plan for the management of chronic pain like arthritis in the arena of alternative medicine. Aside from chronic constipation, it can be used to treat various stomach based disorders like IBS, Flatulence, Worm invasion and liver disease like Jaundice. It can work wonderful as a natural expectorant to eradicate cough from respiratory organ and treat fever. Applying its fluid can help control dandruff naturally.

Only disadvantage of snake gourd is the pesticide residue. It should be thoroughly cleaned and peeled before cooking if not organically farmed.

Snake Gourd Hybrid Seeds in India

There are many hybrid snake gourd seeds available in India for commercial cultivation. One need to choose snake gourd seed as per locality and soil.

PKM-1

A hybrid developed by Periyakulam research center in Madurai. It grows extra length fruits of nearly 180-200 cm and takes nearly 5 months to reach maturity. Expected yield of this variety is likely to be 25 tons per hectare.

CO 1

Developed in Tamil Nadu, the variety offers fruits of 180cm with maturity duration of 130 days. On the darkish green skin color, the fruits usually have white long strips all across the body. Expected yield per hectare is 40-45 tones.

CO-2

Researched and developed in Tamil Nadu, the variety offers 35-40 cm smaller length fruits of while and light greenish colour. While the maturity period varies from 125-135 days, it can yield 25-30 tons of fruits per hectare.

MDU 1

A local hybrid of Thaniyamangalam that appears in green skin color and while lines. The relatively short fruit is found in 50-60 cm length.

Kaumudi

A high yield producing snake gourd species developed by Kerala agricultural cell. The amazingly long heavy fruits can be found weighing 1.0 to 1.2 kg per fruit with a length of nearly 1000 cm. Potential yield is 120 tons /acre and duration is 3 months.

Baby

As the name implies, the small fruit is another great product, researched and developed by Kerala Agricultural University. In general, weighting around 300-400 grams, the white colored fruits can be harvested in 1½ months with a yield potential of 150 tons per/acre.

TA 19

A product developed by Kerala Agricultural University. Fruits are found in Whitish colour and grow in profusion with 60 cm length and its outcome potential is 75 to 100 tons per acre.

Technical Requirements for Snake Gourd Farming

Soil

Even though, snake gourd grows well in any good soil, however, they yield highest productivity in the areas with sandy loam soils. The PH contain in the soil must not be extreme and needs to be limiting to 6.5-7.5. The cropland should be well-drained and aerated.

Snake Gourd Growing Temperature

During their growing stage, a minimum 18-21° C and afterward 24-27° C optimal temperature is most ideal for snake gourd growing. Extreme climate is unsuitable for snake gourd farming.

Climatic Condition

Grow in profuse both in tropical or temperate climates but extreme climatic condition, drought, or frost can damage productivity of snake gourd.

Snake Gourd Seed Extraction and Germination

Snake gourd seeds
Snake gourd seeds

After extracting snake gourd seeds, it need to be kept in soaked condition for overnight that helps in faster germination. In order to protect snake gourd seeds from growth of born fungus, it is a good choice to soak them in 2% bavistin for nearly 6-8 months and drying them under your nursery sheds. Make smaller pits on the nursery bed or tub and put 3-4 seeds in them with 3-5 cm down the top layer. Avoid deeper sowing which hinders germination process. Daily watering is a must. Consider planting the seedlings after 3-4 weeks in the main cropland.

Plantation Management in Snake Gourd Cultivation

  • Ideal season for planting in cropland is Jan to July.
  • Depending on the fertility scale of your land 2 – 3 Kg of snake gourd seeds should be cultivated in per hectare land. Later you can go for thinning.

Land Preparation

Effective preparation of the land for cultivating snake gourds is the key to maximize productivity. Use needed machineries and tools for ploughing and harrowing and make it a well tilled land. This fosters needed aeration that snake gourd demands. Prepare pits having 30-40 cm depth and 50-60 cm diameter with spacing of 2.5 x 2.5 M and then consider fertilizing the topsoil of the pit.

Fertilizing

To maximize the yield as well as protect your plants, before having the last ploughing, the topsoil should be mixed with 130 Kg FYM (Farm Yard Manure), 250 Kg of neem cake, 5 kg of Azospirillum, 5 kg of Phosphobacteria, and 6-7 Kg of Pseudomonas 6 Kg per hectare. During the cropping period N, P, K @ 180/240/250 kg respectively needs to be applied. 50% or 90 kg of nitrogen (N) should be applied at the very beginning and then using the remaining all through the cultivation period is an ideal parameter.

Irrigation

Proper irrigation is an essential part of snake gourd farming. Depending on the climatic conditions, watering lands on the alternative days or in an interval of 2-3 days is a good practice. During the summer days, a regular irrigation might be required. Furrow irrigation is a very consistent way to support plants without having the risk of over-watering or under-watering. However, when considering furrow irrigation, it’s essential to judge the soil condition, row-spacing among furrows, needed slops like factors to fetch the best outcome of irrigating your plants. Land should be well-drained and be cautious to avoid over-watering. In places, where rainfall is less, choose deep watering that not only helps save water but also provide needed nourishment to tree root in deep soil areas.

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Staking and Trellising

Ridge gourd seedlings grow very fast as a trailing plant and increase with multiple lateral stems. This requires them to support with staking and trellising that enhance yield, enlarge the size of fruits, make harvesting easy, and eliminate the risk of rotting. For proper trellising, cultivators can use wood sticks, bamboo poles, PVC pipe like sturdy materials. Trellis is mainly arranged in tunnel or shed structure. Horizontal stakes are also great means to support snake gourd like fast climbing vines with sideways stems. Use solid strings while adjoining stakes considering they are likely to sustain the climatic factors like rain, sun, etc., and let the plant grow with heavy fruits.

Pest Control in Snake Gourd Farming

Leaf caterpillars and beetles

Ddestroys the lively leaves and growing stems – Use Trichlorfon spray 50% (EC) 1.0 ml per liter or Dichlorvos spray 76% (EC) – 6.5 ml per 10 liter of water and apply.

Fruit fly

Damages fruits – Use 20 x 15 cm poly bags of fish meal traps available with 5 g fish meal in additional to 1 ml of  Dichlorvos per ha by means of cotton. Remove fish meal tapper after 20 days while cotton can be removed after 7 days. As a foliar spray, use of neem oil @ 3.0 % is also effective. Eliminate the soiled fruits immediately from the tree.

Diseases in Snake Gourd Farming

Snake gourd growing using poly bags
Snake gourd growing using poly bags

Aphid vector

A type of highly damaging virus – Spraying the areas with Imidacloprid @ 0.5 ml per liter of water works fantastic. (Never use toxic items like DDT or sulphur dust etc)

Powdery mildew

Can be well controlled by spraying Carbendazim 0.5 g/lit or Dinocap 1 ml/lit.

Downy mildew

Spray Mancozeb/ Chlorothalonil 2 g each lit twice. Keep 10 days gap in every use.

Pruning and Weeding

Weed control is the basic to diminish the risk of pest invasion. Other than hand weeding, use long sticks to reach and eliminate the non-accessible wild plants that get in the way the normal growth of your plantation. Equally, with a view to enhance yield, wipe out the non-productive lateral branches carefully with a sharp knife that encourages faster harvesting.

Harvesting and Yield in Snake Gourd Cultivation

In general, it takes nearly 130-150 days for snake gourd to reaching their harvesting stage. As you should not be harvest them immature, uniformly, make sure to reap the fruits as they reach the desired size and before becoming ripe. Expected average yield is 15-18 tons/per hectare, however, that depends largely on effective cropping plan and on its variety.

Hand Pollination – A Great Way to Increase Yield

Snake gourd plant with leaves and flowers
Snake gourd plant with leaves and flowers

When it comes to snake gourd farming, undertaking a manual pollination endeavor is a great idea to increase productivity with more number of fruits. Other than depending on insects like bees and beetles that typically encourage pollination, for snake gourd framing there is a good scope of hand pollination. It’s a simple procedure that involves tapping pollens of male flowers to their female counterparts. A steady way to recognize female flowers and male ones is that while male flowers grow directly on stems, they don’t have any ball shape outgrowth that female flowers carry behind them. Not only hand pollination helps increase productivity but it encourages the germination rate of seeds by 80% than a general condition. Importantly, spraying flowering hormones like Gibberellic acid can raise the number of female flowers as well as fruits.

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Sources
http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/horticulture/horti_vegetables_ribbed%20gourd.html
http://www.celkau.in/Crops/Vegetables/Snakegourd/snakegourd.aspx
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichosanthes_cucumerina
https://www.tutorialspoint.com/cultivation_of_crops/cultivation_life_cycle_of_ridge_gourd.asp

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