Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ampalaya Production


Bittergourd, which is known in the Philippines as ampalaya, is an annual plant that is native in this country. It is botanically known as Momordica charantia L. It can be grown anytime of the year for its edible shoots and fruits and offers a good supply of vitamins and minerals. The fruit contains the hypo-glycemic principle charantin, which is used to treat diabetes.

Bittergourd is profitable when grown in small or large scale either in lowland or upland rice-based areas.

This technoguide module is designed to guide small scale producers specifically those who want to engage in multiple cropping schemes.

Recommended Varieties:

The recommended varieties of bittergourd are: the Sta Rita Strain with fruit length of 20-35 cm, intended for ginisa or sautéed recipes and can yield an average of 30 t/ha; the Jade Star and the Native ( Fig. 1) with fruit length of 5 to 10 cm used for cooking pinakbet. These varieties can be harvested at 50 DAE with an average yield of 30 t/ha. They are moderately resistant to insect pests and diseases of cucurbits but are susceptible to fruit fly.

Site Selection/Soil Type:

Bittergourd grows in well-drained soil. However, the best soil texture for the crop is either sandy loam or clay loam with pH ranging from of 6.0-6.7.

Growing Season:

Although the crop can be grown throughout the year, the most profitable growing seasons are from October to December and from May to July because most of the areas are being planted to rice during these periods. Only the “tumana” or the fertile hilly-upland areas are being planted with bittergourd, hence, production is limited.

Plant the crop once every two years in the same area. Since bittergourd is a heavy consumer of nutrients, the soil is depleted on the second year and thus needs soil amendments.

Land Preparation and Trellising:
Plow and harrow the field twice. After the second harrowing, construct trellis at a distance of 2.5 x 2.5 m and with a height of 1.5-2 m. Fix one layer of GI wire no. 14 at the top of each row and column. Fix two layers of GI wire # 18 at a distance of 3 ft below the upper layer of the row only. Fix a layer of plastic string on top of the trellis foundation at 20 cm apart, then fix abaca string or dried banana bracts string vertically from the upper wire layer to the bottom wire layer for the vines to crawl on.

System of Planting:

Break the seed coat lightly and soak the seeds in water for 24 hours, then wash. Incubate for 24-48 hours until the radicles appear. On the first day, plant the seeds with uniform germination to have a uniform stand of plant in the field. Plant the second flush on the second day then throw away all the slow germinating seeds since these are suspected to be infected with disease such as barako or other viral diseases.

Incorporate organic fertilizer at the rate of 50 g per hill before planting. Plant one germinated seed per hill at a depth of 2 cm and spaced at 50 cm along the row.

Weeding and Cultivation:

Uproot the weeds in between hills at 14 days after emergence (DAE) only. After 14 DAE, do not uproot the weeds or cultivate in between the rows as this will harm the roots and consequently results in slow growth of the plants.

After the first weeding, hill-up once only and cut the weeds close to the ground every 14 days or as needed. The remaining weeds will serve as alternate hosts of cutworms, army worms, and other insect pests.

Fertilizer Application:

Bittergourd responds well to soils that are rich in organic matter and inorganic nutrients. For soils without analysis, the recommendation in Table 1 must be followed. The organic fertilizer must be broadcasted before plowing or at final harrowing.

Bittergourd is a heavy consumer of fertilizer. If the recommended frequency of application at 28 DAE will show yellowish leaves after 2 weeks, adjust the application to 2-3 times/month or every 14 days for 3 months.

Bittergourd is a flood tolerant crop. It can withstand water logging for 48-72 hours. In dry season, irrigate the field by flooding at 14 DAE and repeat irrigation every seven days throughout the growing season in October to December and as the need arises in May to July planting.

Insect Pests and Diseases Control:

The advent of pests and diseases of bittergourd depends on the season, weather condition, and the cropping pattern in the surrounding areas. During wet season, aphids, fruit fly, leaf footed bug, and leaf folder are destructive. During the dry season, additional pests such as leafhoppers, thrips, white flies, and leaf worms are equally destructive.
Damping-off, bacterial blight, and Barako are common diseases of bittergourd during wet and dry seasons. If Barako (which is characterized by long and hardy vines, with small leaves near the shoots) is observed, uproot the whole plant to avoid the outbreak of the disease. Barako is regarded as nutritional deficiency by some soil scientists since it responds to fertilizer application.

However, pathologists claim that Barako is caused by a mycoplasma-like organism because of the abnormal development of leaves, shoots, and tendrils.


Harvest the first batch of immature fruits at deep green stage, approximately 25-30 cm long for Sta Rita variety. Repeat harvesting every 3-5 days preferably in the morning to maintain the freshness of the fruits. For the varieties with small fruits, harvest the immature fruits when the rinds are already prominent. Do not harvest the shoots because it will lessen the fruit-bearing performance of the plant resulting in reduced fruit yield.

Pack the harvested fruits in polyethylene bags of 10 kg capacity immediately after harvesting to avoid withered fruits.

If the crop is intended for leaf/shoot production, start harvesting 1 foot long shoot when the vines reached 1 m long. Harvest succeeding shoots when the lateral vines reach 2 feet long, leaving 1 foot long vine for the development of new shoots. Tie the shoots with rubber band in 10 or 20 pcs per bundle depending on the retailer’s preference. Pack in polyethylene plastic to prevent the leaves from wilting.

1 comment:

Azee said...

Hello Everyone,
I have grown Bitter Gourds Hydroponically & trying to control Barako problem. There are twenty plants in the system & all are behaving like that since seedlings stage. Please inform about the way to overcome the problem.
Looking for your earliest possible help.
Best regards.