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Technoguide for Ampalaya Production Part 1

Ampalaya: Effective Herbal Medicine With Various Health ...

I. Introduction

Bittergourd (Momordica charantia Linn.), ampalaya in Tagalog or parya in Iloko, is one of the most important commercial and backyard fruit vegetables in the country because of its nutritive and medicinal value. The fruits contain calcium, phosphorus, iron, carbohydrates, and vitamins A, B, and C.

Advanced commercial cultivation of ampalaya used to be concentrated in Regions III (Central Luzon) and IV (Southern Tagalog). Although Ilocos Norte had the 5th biggest harvested area in 2001 (BAS), production was largely traditional yielding only about 6 tons per ha. Recent claims that ampalaya helps cure diabetes have boosted market demand and encouraged many Ilocano farmers to modernize its cultivation.

Two types of ampalaya are being grown locally. One is the long, dark green, and less warty type; the other is the short and warty, and more bitter pinakbet type. The crop can be planted anytime of the year. However, it is best to plant in July and August (wet season) for better prices, and in October (dry season) to take advantage of available soil moisture.

II. Varieties

It pays to select varieties which are high-yielding, early-maturing, tolerant to pests and diseases, adapted to local climatic conditions, and easy-to-sell. The following varieties were tested in Currimao, Ilocos Norte from wet season 2005 to dry season 2007:

Variety       Maturity      Fruit Characteristics         Other Characteristics
Galaxy F1
45-50 DAS
dark green, 33 cm long
tolerant to virus

Bonito F1

40-45 DAS
improved native, dark green, only 15 cm long
tolerant to virus, early-maturing, high yielder,  best for pinakbet
Sta. Rita
55-60 DAS
light green, 28 cm long
tolerant to downy mildew
Sta. Fe F1
48-53 DAS
light green, 34 cm long
tolerant to downy mildew


55-60 DAS

light green, 33 cm long
strongly tolerant to downy mildew

Mayon F1

50-55 DAS

light green, 33 cm long
tolerant to virus and downy mildew

          DAS – Days after sowing

  III. Land Preparation

Plow clayey and weedy fields at least twice to help eliminate weeds, hibernating insect pests, and soil-borne diseases.

The best time to plow the field is when a ball does not form when the soil is squeezed by hand and only a thin film of the soil sticks to the fingers and palm. Plow at a depth of 15-20 cm.

Harrow twice to break the clods and level the field. A well- pulverized soil promotes good soil aeration and enhances root formation.

IV. Raising SeedlingsAmpalaya can be directly seeded or transplanted. Transplanting is recommended for hybrid seeds, and for off-season planting to minimize the exposure of young plants to unfavorable weather conditions and reduce plant mortality.

Follow these steps in raising seedlings in plastic trays.

1. Pre-germinating the seeds:
The ampalaya seed coat is hard and waxy. It takes 7-8 days before the seed germinates. Emergence can be hastened by pre-germinating the seeds. An area of 1000 m2 (tenth of a hectare) requires about 120 g of seeds. One gram (g) contains around 5 seeds.

Ampalaya seeds

a. Cut the longer tip of the seed with a nail cutter to facilitate absorption of water.  

cutting the seed tip

b. Soak the seeds in water for 30 minutes. soaking seeds.

soaking seeds

c. Spread the seeds in a wet, clean cotton cloth for a more uniform absorption of moisture, and roll the cloth.

 wrapping seeds

d. Incubate in a safe dark place until the radicles come out, which takes 2-3 days.
 incubating seeds

e. Wash the seeds everyday to prevent fungal growth. Seeds germinate easily at 250C to 300C (normal room temperature); longer when temperature is low or cold.

2. Preparing the sowing materials:

a. Prepare the following sowing medium.
  • 2 parts rice straw compost
  • 4 parts carbonized rice hull (CRH)
  • 1 part processed chicken manure (PCM)
sowing materials

b. Mix the materials thoroughly.

mixing the medium using a garden shovel

c. Fill the holes of the tray with the medium, and slightly compact it using your palm.

filling up seedling trays with the sowing medium
d. Use a seedling tray with 100 or 104 holes. The volume of medium in each hole contains enough nutrients to sustain the seedling until transplanting time.

seedling tray

3. Sowing:a. Sow one pre-germinated seed per hole of the plastic tray at a depth of 1.5 cm.
Proper sowing of seeds
b. Cover the seed with enough medium.

covering trays

c. Water the seeds using a sprinkler with fine droplets.
d. Cover the tray with old newspaper, plastic sack, or rice straw to maintain soil moisture and temperature.
e. Remove the cover as soon as the seeds have sprouted.

4. Caring for and maintaining the seedlings:

a. Place the trays on the platforms of a simple nursery.
b. Roof the nursery with transparent plastic sheets during the rainy season; plastic nets or chicken wire during the dry season. The nursery minimizes exposure of the seedlings to extreme hot weather, heavy rains, and protects them from stray animals.

 seedling nursery

c. Water early in the morning and afternoon. Apply less water during rainy and cloudy days. The seedlings weaken and elongate with too much water.

Ampalaya seedlings

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