Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pests of Snake gourd

Fruit borer

  • the most serious pest damaging the young fruits is Daucus cucurbitae which is mentioned under cultivation of Ridge gourd.
  • the image above shows yellow/brown discoloration on the fruit as a result of boring the tender fruits. since the attack is major on standing crops, chemical pesticides should not be used as it will leave behind toxic residue.
  • using pheromone traps is the best & economical method to control the pest click here
  • spraying with neem based repellents can also be done
  • the infected young fruits must be completely destroyed as they contain young larvae which will emerge and pupate in the soil, thereby continuing the cycle.
  • soil drenching. treatment with chloropyriphos @ 2 ml per litre water can be done

  • Leaf eating caterpillar ( Diaphania indica) is the most serious pest where damage to the plant is highest.
  • the caterpillars can be seen on the lower surface of the leaves & feed on the young developing leaves, thereby curtailing the growth of the vine.
  • pupae in silken cocoons can be seen & these caterpillars when come in contact with human skin can also cause severe rash & allergies.
  • the plant appears to be wilting & severely drooping leaves is the sign of this pest.
  • if the area under cultivation is small, hand picking the pest using protective gloves is best. however if the area is large, then it becomes very time consuming. spraying with chloropyriphos @ 2 ml per litre and Quinalphos @ 1 ml per litre is very effective. But great care must be taken while spraying these chemicals as they are high in mammilian toxicity.
  • spraying must be done on the lower surface of the leaves & younger , tender leaves must be sprayed first.
  • in some cases, natural predators like birds feed on the caterpillars. so spraying must be done only when situation demands.
Photos and content by Pritham 'Heavy metal farmer' denzil dsouza

Snake Gourd

Snake Gourd ( Trichosanthes cucumerina) is native to India & grown for its long and slender fruits. It is a climbing vine & some varieties also produce short fruits.

Climate & soil
  • It requires tropical , warm & humid climate for best growth
  • it cannot tolerate heavy rainfall as flowering is greatly affected.
  • very heavy rianfall will make the plant succeptable to various fungal & mycoplasma diseases
  • loamy soils are preferred for its cultivation
  • soil pH must be in range of 6.0 to 7.0
  • every cold climate is not suitable, & it cannot tolerate frost
since we are following summer methods of cultivation, we made use of the previously made seed beds which belonged to the previous crop & previous season

  • pits measuring 2 feet in diameter are made & 2 seeds sowed per each pit
  • the pits must be well mixed with farm yard manure till a fine tilth is obtained.
  • lite irrigation is then given
  • since the seeds take a long time to germinate due to very hard seed coat, it is advised to soak the seeds in water over night before sowing
  • some practices follow the soaking of the seeds in curds to activate quicker germination
  • when conditions are good, the seeds germinate within 10 days. if the seeds have still not germinated, re sowing is recommended
germination seen within 10 days after sowing

one week after germination

12 days after germination

Irrigation & Inter Culture Operations
  • light irrigation must be given immediately after sowing
  • it is important to maintain the moisture level in the soil. after germination, dried leaves, etc can be used as mulch to retain moisture
  • during growth stage, watering must be done at least thrice a week, when temperature is high. during later stages of growth, water intake can be reduced
  • since the plant is a vine, support must be provided so that it grows & it must be trained over a bower or pandal or trellis.
  • 21 days after sowing, well composted farm yard manure has to be added. care must be taken to see that the manure is well composted or it may damage the shoot.
  • at this stage, while adding manure, the size of the pits must be increased by working on the sides of the pit to accommodate manure & also to provide more area for the movement of the roots. clods that are formed are destroyed , resulting is good soil aeration & porosity
  • all the weeds must be removed
when plant reaches 21 days time, manure is added & support is given for the vines to climb

photo below shows rapid climbing of the vines after 35 days of sowing

Flowering & Harvest
  • fruits start forming after 60 to 70 days after sowing.
  • at flowering stage , one spray of plant hormones like NAA is recommended @ 1 ml in 1 litre water to increase the number of female flowers.
  • fully developed tender fruits can be harvested every 4 to 5 days.
  • tying a small stone to the stigmatic end of the fruits is a widely practiced method.
  • under organic practices, the plant will continue to yield for up to 2 months, when conditions are favourable.
  • the average yield of snake gourd is over 150 quintals per hectare.
some varieties in our farm

the green fruit with longitudinal white stripes. these fruits are much more heavier than the white fruits & are medium to short in length

these white fruits yield continuously, and are less heavy compared to the green type. the fruits are soft & short.

Photos and content by Pritham 'Heavy metal farmer' denzil dsouza