Bottle Gourd Farming and Cultivation- Calabash / Dudhi
Bottle gourd is a widely cultivated crop in India and the market is open in all states. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to west Bengal, Bottlegourd is cultivated widely and consumed too. The market rates are usually between 10 to 50 rs per kg and may go a bit high but not lower than Rs 10 in any part of the country. The Lowest price range is usually in states like Punjab where bottle gourd is cultivated widely and there is an abundance of the produce
Bottle gourd is an easy-to-cultivate plant that grows vigorously and requires very less nutrients and resources. Full sun, sandy loam soil, and some fertilizer if the soil is not very nutrient rich are all it takes to grow bottle gourd. But when grown commercially, The plant requires trellises and the seeds have to be of good quality. Hybrid seeds are known to improve yield and resist a range of diseases. Moreover, trellises usually enable farmers to produce good-looking, quality fruits with the right shape. Good quality fruits usually get a slightly higher price than those deformed. Growing bottle gourd without trellises results in unevenly shaped fruits that are often decolored and dirty, which is not preferred in the market and fetches a lower price.
With trellises in place, farmers are required to invest more in the crop, to the tune of 25,000 rs per acre. If the price drops with an average yield, chances are farmers will go into a loss with bottle-gourd cultivation. this is the reason why farmers should choose high-yield varieties where they can compensate for their expenses on trellises with higher production.
Practices and basic requirements for Growing Bottle gourd
Bottle gourds require a certain temperature, soil condition, and irrigation requirements. They are not tolerant to frost and waterlogging. they can grow throughout the year in India and their yield is almost always the same. Monsoons may see a slightly lower yield but it’s not very significant. Profitability depends on two factors, the Yield and the price in the market. Let’s look into each of these factors in detail.
- Climate for Cultivation: Bottle gourd grows best in a tropical climate. they do not tolerate frost and cold weather. they may take a bit of chill but continuous cold weather is usually not recommended. the weather between 18 and 30 degrees Celcius is usually the most feasible. They grow in summer and monsoons or even winter in tropical climates. Crop sowing starts in June and July for monsoon crops, February and march for summer crops, and November and December for winter crops.
- Ideal Soil for Cultivation: the soil is best if it’s sandy loam but the bottle gourd can adjust to almost all kinds of soil Clay soil is usually not preferred for most crops but bottle gourd adjusts quite well with clay soil too with small adjustments. adding manure and compost can help a lot with clay soil. The ph for the soil is recommended to be between 6.5 and 7.5
- Varieties of Bottlegourd: there are numerous varieties of bottle gourds today and most of them are hybrids. Hybrid varieties are genetically pollinated varieties of high-yielding and disease-resistant bottle gourd varieties to create a superior variety. There is a range of varieties both from private and government universities which have their own set of features. some of the known varieties are Punjab Barkat, Punjab Long, Punjab Komal & Punjab Bahar. Each of the varieties has its own set of benefits and their yield range from 18 to 22 tonnes. Apart from these, there is a range of varieties developed by private entities like mahyco and VNR Seeds among others
- Land Preparation: the soil for the Bottle gourd should be soft and airy. Plow the land and pulverize it with a rotovator at least twice before leveling. once leveled, Create beds 2-2.5 meters wide. apply cow manure at the rate of 25 tonnes per acre and set drip irrigation. once the drip irrigation is functional and ready, spread the mulching sheets. Mulching sheets can also be set under drip irrigation if your drip irrigation system does not have proper water purification systems.
- Propagation: Bottle gourd is propagated from seeds. the seeds are soaked in water for at least 10-12 hours before sowing. Sow the seeds and water immediately. the Bottle gourd plants are fast-growing plants and don’t require a lot of time to germinate. They start with a false leaf in less than 3 days and a week you will see the first real leaf. They grow profusely and usually are not propagated in grow trays.
- Plant Spacing and Density: While the bed is 2 feet and the spacing is 45 – 60 centimeters, approximately 9000 plants can be accommodated in an acre. You will need 2 KG of seeds or more (Depending on the variety and quality of the seed) to plant one acre of Bottle gourd. there is no intercropping done usually with mulching sheets, but you could cultivate some underground crops with bottle gourd with some success. Sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, and beetroots are usually possible.
- Irrigation: bottle gourd loves moist soil but not a water-logged condition. During summer, the plant will require full irrigation every 5 days. During monsoons, watering is rarely required. The soil should never be dry below 2 inches. with a mulching sheet, the water moisture content in the water is usually high and is well retained. It’s important to irrigate regularly if you do not have mulching sheets in place.
- Fertilizers: Approximately 10 KG of Urea is required for Growing bottle gourd in 2 phases. once during seed sowing at 50 KG per acre and the remaining 50 kg during flower setting. The plants grow profusely and adding too much urea will only increase the vines and the leaves. adding phosphorus and potash may be required depending on soil conditions. The recommended dosage for the entire crop cycle is 100 kg Urea, 50 KG phosphorus, and 50 KG potash throughout the entire lifecycle of the crop.
- Pests: There are a few pests that are commonly a problem in the cultivation of Bottle gourd. Aphids, mites, and beetles are common problems and can be treated with chemical pesticides. Weekly application of Neem oil mixed with soap water can reduce pests or prevent them from attacking significantly but is not 100% reliable. there may be pests that will require pesticides.
- Diseases: Powdery mildew and Downy mildew are commonly seen in Bottlegourd. The application of mancozeb and carbendazim can help with these conditions.
- Training and Pruning: For better growth and high yield pruning should be practiced. when the vine reaches a length of 12 feet the tips are cut off. All lateral branches below the first 5 leaves are trimmed. this encourages more female flowers and optimal male flowers. cutting off the tip also ensures that the plants branch out more and indicates to the plant that it’s time to produce flowers and fruits. Early fruiting is often achieved by pruning or pinching the tip of the plant once it has reached a sufficient height. 3G cutting can increase the fruits to 40% more in most cases but this is painstakingly hard especially when you have an acre in cultivation.
- Harvesting: Harvesting is done when the fruits reach a marketable size. Some markets prefer small to medium fruits ranging from half a kilo to 750 grams while other markets may even accept fruits up to 1.5 kg provided the fruits are tender. Depending on what’s acceptable in your market, the fruits should be harvested. once harvested, wipe the fruits with a dry cloth or a cloth dipped in white vinegar. This provides a shine to the fruits and helps in better marketing. Bottle gourd cultivated on the ground and without a vine will have small patches of white which are hard to get rid of. You may also need to wash the fruits thoroughly in water to get rid of the dirt and mud when cultivated without vines. Ensure the fruits are dried well using a cloth before transportation.
- Post Harvest: Bottlegourds are usually consumed fresh and do not have any byproducts associated with them. The fruits are transported in crates and sent to the market within 3-4 hours of picking. No post-harvest process is required.
- Yield: Every farmer has one question or rather 2 before they start farming. How much yield and what’s the price for the product in the market? When it comes to yield, Bottle gourd never lets you down. Each plant can produce 10-12 fruits and even more if you train and prune correctly. With one acre, you can expect a minimum of 10 Tonnes and a maximum of 22 tonnes depending on variety, location, and care for the plants. Variety is very important. While desi varieties can yield up to 10 Tonnes per acre, the Hybrids can double your production. Location is just as important too. bottle gourd grows extremely well where sunning is prominent for at least 6-8 hours of the day. this means lesser yield during monsoons and winters and also poor yield in shaded areas.
- Area of cultivation: Bottlegourd is cultivated throughout India. Considerably cold Kashmir cultivates bottle gourd in small quantities when the climatic conditions are right. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhyapradesh cultivate nearly 50% of all Bottlegourd in India with the remaining states cultivating the remaining. Bihar alone cultivated 655000 Tonnes in the year 2021-22 accounting for 20% of the total national production.
- Market information: Bottlegourd sells in the medium to the low price range of vegetables. While most vegetables range from 40 to 60, bottled gourds sell for 10 -20 rs per kilo significantly rarely driving prices above 40. Being a widely available product makes the price go down but with the high yield potential, farmers usually make a good profit albeit not exorbitant.
- Weed Control: Mulching sheets are the only barrier that is required for weed control in bottle gourd cultivation. open field cultivation without mulching will reduce yield by 10-15% and increase the cost of farming by 10-25%. labor is usually one of the main expenses in farming and increasing labor in weed control is not profitable.
- Seed: An average of 2 KG seed is required to sow one acre of bottled gourd cultivation. the seed varies from 2 kg to 4 kg depending on variety and spacing. A range of companies has come up with hybrid seeds in bottle gourd. These seeds range from the ability to resist pests and disease or increase yield. choose the seed which is best for your area.
Average Profit and Yield per acre
Assuming that each plant has 10-12 fruits and each fruit weighs half a kilo, you could estimate that you would be able to cultivate approximately 50 Tonnes per acre from 10,000 plants. In reality, this is not possible at all. A very low number is 10 tonnes and that’s easily achievable from one acre of land and desi seeds which cost a lot lesser. Let’s assume that we only get 10 tonnes per acre and still have a moderate expense.
Expenses in the cultivation of Bottle Gourd
|Cow manure and Basal Fertilizers||4000|
|Fertilizers and pesticides||8000|
|Labour (Row preparation, harvesting, etc)||15000|
With a total Expense of 114500 rs per acre, which is on the higher side, you are looking at a crop for 4 months duration. with an average yield of 10 Tonnes, which is minimum, and a price of 10 Per kilo, you will be looking at a loss of 14,500 Rs, but if the price is increased to 15 per KG, you are looking at a moderate profit of 35,500rs per acre. But look at the table below if you had an increase in yield from 10 tonnes to 15 tonnes.
Varied price at 10 Tonnes yield
Varied price with 15 Tonne yield
if the market rate is 15 Rs and the yield is roughly 15 tonnes, which is easily possible with hybrid seeds and proper maintenance, you would profit by approximately 1 Lakh rupees. A venture which can be attempted. Bottle gourd cultivation is profitable in India during most seasons.