Cultivation of Ash Gourd: A Winter Melon

Did you know, the famous sweet “Agra Petha” is made up of Ash Gourd. This Article is about How Ash gourd farming is done? Conditions to grow Ash Gourd? And The Yield?

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Introduction:
Ash Gourd is also known as Wax Gourd or Winter Melon. This fruit is quite famous in India and grown mostly in the tropical and subtropical region. It belongs to the southeast side of Asia and is native to Japan and Java. It is grown throughout India, majorly in Kerala state. This fruit is famous for its immature and mature fruit. These are used as salads, in cooking, confectionery, etc.

ash gourd (Winter Melon)


Ash gourd has high medicinal properties and is highly used in the preparation of ayurvedic medicines. Most of us didn’t know that “Petha” a very famous and delicious sweet is made up of this fruit. This crop is cultivated in north India to make Agra-Petha.

agra petha - ash gourd (Winter Melon)
Ash Gourd has a lot of health benefits which include losing weight, a good diet for diabetes, curing ulcers, treating constipation, relieving acidity, treats cold, etc.


Ash Gourd is known with lots of names in India and some of them are; White Gourd, Wax Gourd, Winter Melon, Petha. Pethakaddu, Kohla, Neer Poosanikai, Kumbalanga, Kumra, Boodida Gumaddikaya, Budekumbalakayi, Boodu Gumbala, Chalkumra, Komora, etc. The scientific name of Ash Gourd is Benincasa hispida.


Conditions for Ash gourd Cultivation:
Soil: Though it can be grown in many varieties of soil, the best-suited soil for Ash Gourd is loamy well-drained soil. It grows its tropical and subtropical regions.
The pH of the soil: Healthy Ash Gourd is shown at soils with pH value 5 to 7.5.

ash gourd (Winter Melon)
Time of sowing:
Usually, this fruit is grown throughout the year. However, the best time to sow is from September to March. In North India, it is highly suggested to sow this fruit from October to November. This season helps you avoid the risk of mosaic virus infection.


The Ash gourd seeds must be soaked in water before using them, it speeds up the process of germination. Before sowing, ash gourd seeds should be treated with the Bavistin solution for a couple of hours. The method of ash gourd cultivation is to sow 4-5 seeds in a pit and after 2 weeks weak plants should be removed and only healthy plants should be allowed to grow.


Temperature:
Ash gourd seeds should be planted from July to January, as it is a summer crop and it requires a temperature of about 24 to 32 degrees Celsius.


Irrigation:
Basins should be irrigated before sowing the seed and after that about once in a week.
Propagation of Ash Gourd: Propagation of this fruit is mostly done through seeds.


How the land is prepared for Ash Gourd Farming?
The field should be ploughed for about 3 to 4 times and pits of 30x30x30 centimeters should be dug at a spacing of 2×1.5 meters and forms basins.
Seed rate: 4-5 seeds should be sowed in one pit. An average rate of about 1 kg per hectare is required.

 

ash gourd (Winter Melon)
Seed Treatment:
The Ash gourd seeds must be soaked in water before using them, it speeds up the process of germination. Before sowing, ash gourd seeds should be treated with a Bavistin solution for a couple of hours.


Irrigation:
The farmland should be irrigated before sowing the ash gourd seeds. After sowing the seeds, for few initial days irrigation should be done after the interval of 3 to 4 days. As the flower and fruiting start to appear, irrigation at alternate days should be started. The ideal method for irrigating this type of crop is Furrow method. In water shortage regions, drip irrigation can be the best option.


In rainy seasons, stagnation of water in the fields should be avoided by making a proper drainage system, as it may damage the crop.


Harvesting:
In this farming, the fruits become ready to harvest after 90 to 100 days after sowing it. However, it may take as long as 150 days to fruit. As this fruit has demanded of both fully matured and partially matured stage, so it can be harvested as per the requirements of the market.

ash gourd (Winter Melon)
Harvesting of immature fruits can be done after 1 week of Anthesis. Matured ash gourd can be harvested after a waxy coating on the fruit has developed. It is recommended to wash the fruit after harvesting and prior to storing.


Plant protection: This fruit can be majorly harmed by Pests.
Pest:
Leaf Caterpillars and Leaf Beetles can be controlled by spraying any of the following :
• Methyl Demeton @ 25EC 1 millilitre per litre
• Dimethoate @ 30EC 1 millilitre per litre
• Malathion @ 50 EC 1 milliliter per liter

 


Fruit fly:

ash gourd (Winter Melon)
• The affected fruit should be destroyed after collecting.
• The fly population is at the peak in rainy seasons and low in hot day’s condition, so the sowing time should be adjusted accordingly.
• By ploughing, the pupae should be exposed.
• Use polythene bags, 1 gram of Dichlorovos in cotton and fish meal trapped in 5 gm of wet fish meal, 50 traps are required for a hectare. Fish meal and Dichlorovos impregnated cotton are to be renewed once in 20 and 7 days respectively.
• Neem oil @ 3.0 percent as a need-based foliar spray.
• Aphid: with sufficient quality of Teepol, Triton x 100, Apsa, etc are to be spray with Imidacloprid @ 0.5 ml per liter.
Note: Do not use DDT, copper and Sulphur dust because are phytotoxic.


Diseases:
• Powdery Mildew can be controlled by Dinocap 1 ml per liter or Carbendazim 0.5 gm per liter spraying.
• Downy Mildew can be controlled by Mancozeb or Chlorothalonil 2gm per liter twice at 10 days interval spray.


The yield of Ash Gourd:
Yield depends largely on market conditions. If the demand is very high, you will get a good price of this fruit and vice versa.
• It has been recorded that, Harvesting the fruit at the mature stage yield an average of 12 to 15 tonnes per hectare
• While an average of 24 to 30 tonnes per hectare yield has been recorded in case of immature fruit stage.

Conclusion:
Ash Gourd Farming can be a good choice for farming in areas where only mild winters are experienced like South India. The yield is very good in these areas and will generate very good profits for you.

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