Thursday, September 06, 2001
By Our Agriculture Correspondent
A PROMISING snake gourd variety that combines high yielding potential with superior quality has become popular among Kerala farmers in the last few years. Known by the name ``Kaumudi'', the snake gourd bears medium-sized, bright white fruits, and it is grown in almost all parts of the State including the hilly tracts.
Developed at the Sugarcane Research Station of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) at Kallungal, Thiruvalla, it was released by KAU in 1996 for commercial cultivation, and since then it has spread far and wide within the State. Recommended for cultivation in the acidic alluvial soils of south Kerala, this variety has done well in all over the State.
A pure-line selection from a local collection from Kottayam district, ``Kaumudi'' has a potential to yield an average 62 tonnes per hectare. The white fruits grow to about a metre in length, and each fruit will weigh on an average 1.3 kg.
The maximum girth of the fruit will be 30 cm. The flesh is thick (1.10 cm). The variety is suitable for late harvest as well, according to the scientists, who developed this variety.
This variety is suitable for growing in both summer and rainy seasons. The duration of the crop is five months, with a pre- bearing period of 75 days.
The fruits can be harvested in about 20 to 25 days after fruit set, when the flesh is still firm and tender. The fruits are tasty and are of high quality. The colour, cooking quality, size and shape of the fruit are highly acceptable to both the consumers and growers.
For extracting seeds, the fruits should be allowed to mature fully for about 60 to 75 days. Each fruit will have about 90 seeds, and seeds will remain viable for up to 330 days after proper processing, according to the scientists. ``Kaumudi'' is relatively free from major pests and diseases of snake gourd. The fruit fly attack is also much less (6 to 10 per cent) when compared to other varieties tested along with it.
The variety performs well in a variety of soils and agro- climatic regions. It does extremely well in rich loamy soils endowed with good drainage. The plants are trained over pandal specifically erected for growing snake gourds.
The seeds are sown in pits filled with rich organic manure. Two seeds should be sown in each pit dug at an espacement of 1.5 meters by 1.5 meters. Regular watering and proper weeding should be done. The pests can be kept at bay by taking up plant protection measures using botanical insecticides as and when needed. The variety responds well to organic amendments, and it will also bring down the cost of cultivation.