Snake Gourd Cultivation Guide

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About the Crop

###Crop Name
Snake Gourd

###Common names
Snake Gourd, Chichinda, Padwal, Serpent Gourd

###Scientific Name
Trichosanthes cucumerina
Family- Cucurbitaceae

###Name in Indian languages
Hindi - Chichinda, Telugu - Potlakaya, Tamil - Pudalangai, Kannada - Bettada Padavala, Malalayalam - Padavalanga, Marathi - Jangli padavala

###Origin, Distribution and Uses
Originated from South Asia region including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Srilanka, it is found to be under cultivation in Regions of South East Asia also viz., Indonesia, Mayanmar, Malaysia, China (Southern Region) also in Australia, and Africa.
Snake Gourd grows well in Tropical countries. It is white or greenish white in colour and long round having having 65 to 75 cms diameter and 100 to 150 cms long. Some short varieties are also being grown which will be having 50 cms diameter and 15 to 20 cms in length. It is being used in food preparations widely. In India, it is used as Koottu (Sausage), Porial (Curry) etc. It is used in immature stage for food. In mature ripe state they become fibrous and cannot be used for food. While using, the seeds are to be avoided since they may be toxic for human consumption.
Snake gourd also has medicinal properties. It has Anti Inflammatory properties and is used as diet in the Alternative medicine in the treatment of Arthritis. It is believed to control Diabetes. It is also used in the case of Stomach disorders like Constipation, Flatulence, Worm infestation. It has antibiotic properties and can be used in the case of fever and acts as expectorant to remove Phlegm from respiratory system. A decoction of Snake Gourd leaves and Coriander seeds kept in hot water overnight is used in the treatment of Jaundice.
It is also believed to control hair fall and strengthens hairs and helps growth. Being an Anti Oxidant it detoxifies the body of toxins in constant use. It is also used in the treatment of heart Palpitation condition.
Snake Gourd is also nutritious. It is having Vitamin A, B, C as well as minerals . Following are the contents of Nutritious elements in 100 gm of Snake Gourd.

  1. Energy - 18 Kcals
  2. Moisture- 94 gms
  3. Protein - 1 gm
  4. Fat - 0 gm
  5. Mineral - 1 gm
  6. Carbohydrate - 3 gms
  7. Fibre - 1 gm
  8. Calcium - 26 Mg
  9. Phosphorous - 20 mg
  10. Iron - 22 mg

Area, Production and Productivity

Area of production - Productivity
2,71,320 acres - 35 tons per acre

##Cultivation Requirements
###Climate and Seasons
Snake Gourd grows well in tropical areas with a warm and humid climate. Though the plant gives yield throughout the year in some areas, July and January is the suitable period for cultivation. It can withstand rains, but cannot withstand frost.

###Soils
For Snake Gourd growing, rich loamy soil having pH range of 6.0-7.0 is best suited for the crop.

##Varieties

1. CO 1

Developed by TNAU. Fruits having length of upto 180cm. Yield about 44 tons per acre. Crop duration 135 days.

2. MDU 1

Hybrid of Thaniyamangalam selection with local type. 60 cm length. Having Green background and white stripes. Short fruits.

3. CO 2

Developed by TNAU. Local short variety of Coimbatore District. Having a length of 30-35 cm. Ash colour surface. Yield about 60 to 70 tons per acre. Crop duration 125 days.

4. PKM 1

Developed at Periakulam Centre. Fruits are of extra long variety with a length of about 180 to 200 cm. Yield potential 60 tons per acre. Crop duration 135 to 140 days.

5. KAUMUDI

Developed by Kerala Agricultural University. Fruits are of Long variety with a length of 1000 cm and weighing about 1.3 kg per fruit. It is successfully being grown in Acidic Alluvial soils of Kerala. Yield potential about 120 tons per acre. Crop duration 150 days.

6. BABY

Developed by Kerala Agricultural University. Short variety fruit, Weighing about 400 gms per fruit. Colour white.
Yield starts from 55 days and has a Yield potential of 140 tons per acre.

7. TA 19

Developed by Kerala Agricultural University. Whitish colour about 60 cm length. Having yield potential of about 75 to 95 tons per acre.

###Field preparation
Plough the field thoroughly four or five times. It is suggested for ploughing initially using chisel plough one time and disk plough one time and cultivator 3 times. Leave the field for sunlight for one or two days.

###Propagation
Through direct sowing of seeds in prepared pits.

###Sowing, Nursery and Transplanting
###Seed Rate
12 Kg per acre.

###Seed Treatment
Treat seeds with Pseudomonas fluorescens @ 10 gm per kg or Trichoderma viride @ 4 gm per kg or Carbendazim @ 2 gm per kg of seeds before sowing. Since the seeds are hard soaking in water over night before sowing will quicken germination.

###Transplanting
In this plants can be grown in polythene bags and can be transplanted in the pits and also the plants can be grown directly in the pits.

###Spacing
After ploughing prepare pits of size L 30 cm x B 30 cm and with a bund height 30 cm around the pit at 2.5 x 2 m spacing and form basins.

###Methods
Pits with raised bunds about 30 cm around the pits and growing the plant in the pits with support to raise the veins to a Pandal about 2 meters height, is followed in the case of Snake gourd cultivation.

###Cropping Patterns
Inter cropping can increase net income as well as prevents weeds.

###Water Management
Drip Irrigation combined with drip fertigation helps increase the yield duration.

###Nutrient Management
Apply farm yard manure (FYM) 120 Kg and 240 Kg of Neem Cake along with Azospirillum 5 Kg and Phosphobacteria 5 Kg and Pseudomonas 6 Kg and Trichoderma viride before last ploughing in the field to increase the yield an protect the plants.
N, P, K 180-245-245 Kg per acre to be applied throughout the cropping period with split application method. Initially 50% of or 90 Kg of N to be applied after that remaining 50% to be applied evenly throughout the cropping period.

###Weed Management
Weeds are to be removed with hand every fortnight and intercropping also will prevent propagation of weeds.

###Pests and Management

  • Fruit flies (Bactrocera cucurbitae)
    The fruit fly lays eggs in clusters on the fruits, which remain inside the fruits an forms Maggots, which eat the pulp of the fruit from inside, resulting in oozing of fluid from the affected fruits, the fruits become damaged and fall on the ground and the facilitating the Maggots to convert as pupas inside the soil.
    Management: Remove the damaged fruits from the plant and do not allow falling own of fruits. If found any remove them also and destroy them with insecticides and bury in deep pits. Spray Carbaryl 0.15% or Malathion 0.1% beneath the leaves. Use Fly trap to collect the flies and kill them. Preparation of Fly trap:- Mix Eugenol with Malathion EC @ 1:1 and add to Citronella oil or Vinegar an keep 10 ml of the solution in holed Polythene bags @ 62 Numbers per acre or use 5 gm of wet fish meal with 0.1 ml of Dichlorvos added to it in Polythene bags of size 20 X 15 cm with 3 mm holes on the top six numbers.
    The number of such traps may be 12 numbers per acre. In this case, Dichlorvos has to be added every week inside the bags and the fishmeal renewed once in 20 days time.

  • Snake gourd semilooper (Plusia peponis)
    It is a moth with Brown colour. It lays its eggs on the leaves one at a time having white colour and spherical shaped. It develops into Green coloured Larva. It cuts the edges of the leaf and folds the leaf inside and eats the leave sap from within and pupates into Moth. During this process it destroys the leaf. It becomes wilted an fall down.
    Management: Remove the affected leaves with the caterpillar and destroy them. Spray Insecticide Methyl demeton 25 EC or Malathion 50 EC or Dimethoate 30 EC at the rate of 1.25 Litres per acre.

  • Stem borer (Melittia eurytion)
    This is also a Moth type pest. It lays eggs inside the soil an forms cocoon which develops into Larva.
    It bores into the stem of Snake gourd and produces galls, which ultimately damages the stem as a result the whole plant is destroyed.
    Management: As far as possible, remove the affected stem portions with the Larva and destroy them. Spray Dimethoate 30 EC or Methyl demeton 25 EC or Malathion 50 EC at the rate of 1.25 Litres per acre.

  • Stem gall fly (Neolasioptera falcata)
    It lays eggs on the stem and the Maggots eat the stem and bores into it an forms galls. In this case also the affected stem portion gets damaged affecting yield.
    Management: Remove the affected portions of the stem and destroy. Spray insecticides as specified for Stem borer.

###Diseases and Management

  • Downy Mildew (Pseudoperonospora cubensis)
    Pale green areas appear on the upper side of the leaf, with fungal growth on the lower side of the leaf resulting in the drying of the affected leaf.Plants planted with sufficient spacing with good ventilation and drainage facilities along with sun light exposure helps control the disease. Seed treatment with Apron SD 35 at the rate of 2 gm per Kg along with spraying of Mancozeb 0.2% helps control the disease.

  • Powdery Mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum)
    White or brown coloure patches form on the upper and lower side of the leaves and stems. This usually develops in hot, dry seasons. The plant growth is retarded.
    Spraying of wettable sulphur 0.1% helps control the disease. Powdery mildew can also be controlled by spraying Dinocap 1 ml/lit or Carbendazim 0.5 g/lit.

  • Mosaic (PRSV - CMV)
    Plant growth is cupped downwards with the leaves having patches of green and light green over, affecting plant growth and yield. The fruits develop protrusions and are discoloured. The virus is transmitted generally by Aphids.
    This can be controlled by using a variety which is resistant to the Mosaic virus. Removal of the affected parts of the plant then there can help. Spraying of insecticide Dimethoate 0.05% or Neem oil over the plants affected will help control the disease.

Harvesting and Yield

Snake gourd can be harvested from 65 to 75 days after sowing. The harvest is done at an interval of 5-6 days. A total number of 6-8 harvests can be done in general.
It is interesting that a pureline selection from Kottayam District, Kerala; named “Kaumudhi”, which is developed by KAU, has a potential to yield an average 120 tons per acre. The fruit grow about 1000 cm length and weighs approximately 1.3 Kg. It can be grown in summer as well as during rainy seasons. The crop duration is 150 days and the first yield can be harvested in 75 days.
In Tamilnadu efforts are being taken to increase the productivity of cucurbitaceae varieties through introduction of improved Hybrid varieties . Achieving higher profits is possible with the introduction of drip fertigation system and intercropping using Bower system of training. In this method, the productivity can be increased to 145 to 170 tons per acre which above the national average of 35 tons per acre.
Adopting this system effectively increases the yield and net income of about Rs 2.5 Lakhs for two crops in one year. In addition intercropping with Coriander plants can fetch an income of about Rs. 20,000 per acre.
For increased productivity of Snake Gourd, the cropping sequence when the disease attack is less and usage of disease resistant varieties, effective pest control, Using fertigation system where the nutrients are fed through drip irrigation system for direct availability to the plants, using Bower system for better ventilation and exposure to sun and inter cropping with leafy vegetables like coriander will help in a big way.

Cost of Cultivation

Taking into account that the national average productivity of Snake gourd is 35 tons per acre and the Minimum price of 1 Kg of Snake Gourd is taken as Rs 5 per Kg, the profit can be at Rs 1,75,000. In addition, intercropping with leafy vegetables can get an income of Rs 20,000, totaling an profit of Rs 1,95,000. The total expenditure can be at Rs 1,20,000 per acre. Thus the net profit per acre of cultivation can be estimated at Rs 75,000.

Marketing

Marketing can be done in many ways. The simple and easy way is to sell to local markets. But if the demand is more at cities, the harvested fruits can be sold through agencies or direct to the purchasing firms. Now a days there is demand for vegetables in foreign countries, especially in Gulf countries. The produce can be exported through proper agencies which can get a higher profit to the farmer and foreign exchange to the country.

Post Harvest Technology

The harvested fruits have to be sorted out according to their quality. Bad or over ripe fruits are to be separated. The fruits are tender and soft and hence to be kept without damage. The fruits at the best can be stored for 7 days. Hence it is imperative to sell the product immediately. The sooner the better.

Reserved for additional information