M. J. Prabu
|The variety is ideal for both summer and rainy seasons of north India.|
IDEAL VARIETY: The flesh is white in colour and seeds are creamy white in appearance.— Photo IARI
THE DIVISION of Vegetable Crops, Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, has developed a new ash gourd (Benincasa hispida) variety called `Pusa Ujwal'.
This variety is said to be ideal for growing in the North Indian plains during summer and Khariff seasons.
Ash gourd is an important culinary vegetable, usually grown as an intercrop or as a mixed crop.
The variety has recorded an average yield of approximately 40 tonnes per hectare during summer and 43 tonnes per hectare during the Khariff season, according to Dr. P.S. Sorohi, Head, Division of Vegetable Crops, IARI.
Large, hairy spreading vines characterise this variety. The leaves are large and silver green in colour with long petioles.
Both the male and female flowers are yellow in colour. They are solitary with the male flowers having a long pedicle. The fruits are green in colour when immature and turn white on maturing.
Mature fruits are covered with minute hairs and have a white powdery coating. The average length of a fruit is approximately 24cm and the girth is about 55cm.
Mature fruits weigh seven kilograms. Seven to ten fruits are produced in a full-grown plant. The flesh of the fruit is white in colour and seeds are creamy white in appearance.
The plants attain maturity in three and half months after which the first batch of fruits can be harvested. This crop variety is ideally suited for both summer and rainy seasons of north Indian plains and is resistant to viral diseases, according to the IARI scientists.
During summer, the seeds are sown in February and during Khariff the seeds are sown in early July. About 4-4.5 kg of seeds are approximately required for sowing in one hectare.
Before sowing, the soil should be ploughed and prepared by mixing 25 tonnes of farmyard manure, 250 kg of single super phosphate and 100 kg of ureate of potash or potassium sulphate.
After sowing, the field may be irrigated to facilitate germination. As the crop requires moisture for rapid development during its early stages of growth, the field may be irrigated every alternate day during summer to prevent drying of soil.
During winter, irrigation may be done once or twice a week depending on the moisture content in the soil.
One month after sowing, nitrogenous fertilizer such as urea at the rate of 30-40 kg per hectare should be applied as top dressing.
A second application of urea at the rate of 50 kg may be applied as top dressing after two months to promote healthy and vigorous growth.
For farmers who are interested in sowing the seeds taken from the first harvest, it is advisable that they do not sow fresh seeds as they exhibit some amount of dormancy resulting in poor growth.
It is recommended to shade dry the seeds after they are extracted for a period of 3-4 months at low temperature after which they become suitable for germination, said Dr. Sorohi.
For details on the variety, readers may contact the institute at 011-25846628 or 011-25847148.