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Upo (Bottle Gourd) Cultivation Guide: All You Need to Know in Planting, Growing and Harvesting Upo

Upo or Bottle gourd is botanically known as Lagenaria siceraria. It is a widely grown tropical vegetable, which has high carbohydrate content. Oil can be extracted from the seed kernel and used as ingredient in hair care products.

Selection of Varieties

For better yield and profit, select varieties that are adaptable to local conditions, market preference and resistant to insect pests and diseases. To guide you in selecting the right varieties, refer to the table below:

Variety

Origin/Brand/

Supplier

Maturity

(DAS)

Color

Shape

Features

Dalisay F1

East-West Seed Company

65

Bright Green

 

Cylindrical with slight neck

All year round, early and very productive fruit setting; disease tolerant

Gauri F1

Harveson

42-45

Light Green

 

Long cylindrical

High yielding; early maturing; fruits are good for long distance transportation

Magnifica

East-West Seed Company

55

Glossy Bright Green

 

Uniform size and shape

Recommended for year-round cropping; class “A” fruits; longer maturation period

Tambuli

East-West Seed Company

60

Bright Green

 

Cylindrical shape

All season variety; strong against fungal infection

Velentina F1

Pilipinas Kaneko

65-70

Light Green

 

Straight cylindrical

Early maturing; high yielding; produces 12-16 fruits per plant

Upo Grande

Pilipinas Kaneko

85

Greenish White

Slender

Year round; long pointed fruits, size of fruit is 7.6 x 63 cm.


Site Selection and Soil Type

Bottle gourd requires well-drained and sandy loam soils for its good cultivation. It cannot tolerate high amounts of acidity, alkalinity, or salinity. The pH range is between 5.5 and 6.5. When soil conditions are not optimum, then production of female flowers is greatly affected.

Growing Season

It can be grown almost in all climates, however, too much rainfall is not good. Optimum temperature range is between 30 and 350C during the day. If temperature is very high, then more number of male flowers are formed thereby decreasing yield. Upo can be planted all year round but for optimum yield and profit, it can be planted from October to December and from May to July.

Land Preparation

Prepare the field as early as possible to give enough time for the weeds and stubbles of previous crops to decompose. Plow and harrow 2 to 3 times alternately at one week interval. Plow at a depth of 15 to 20 cm. Harrow twice to break the clods and level the field. A well-pulverized soil promotes good soil aeration and enhances root formation.

Prepare bed 3.0 meter apart and 1.0 meter between hills.

Seed Preparation

  • A hectare of farm requires 1 to 2 kg of seeds.
  • Soak the seeds in clean water for 24 hours.
  • Pre-germinate the seeds by wrapping in a moist cloth and place in cool and dark place. Incubate until the seed coat breaks.


Method of Planting

Bottle gourd is often direct seeded like squash however, seedlings can also be transplanted. The distance of planting is from 3 to10 meters. During wet season, plant the seeds on mounds and during the dry season in furrows with 2 seeds per hill. Thin-out weak seedlings 7days after emergence and retain only one plant per hill.

Direct Panting

  • Plant one pre-germinated seeds per hill at a distance of one meter between hills.
  • Cover the seeds with thin layer of soil.
  • During wet season, plant in ridges or above furrows to prevent rotting of seedlings due to flooding.

Transplanting

  • Use a prepared media of one part compost or organic fertilizer, one part clay soil and one part carbonized rice hull. A ready mixed commercial soil media for seedling production can also be used.
  • Fill in plastic bags, potlets or seedling trays with the prepared media.
  • Water the potting media before sowing. Sow one pregerminated seed per potlet.
  • Place the seedling trays/potlets under a temporary shade
  • Maintain the seedlings by watering regularly when needed.
  • Harden the seedlings by gradually reducing the frequency of watering and exposing to direct sunlight.
  • Transplant one seedling per hill at a distance of one meter between hills 15 days after emergence or when true leaves have developed.
  • Transplant in the afternoon or during cloudy days.
  • Replant missing hills immediately.


Fertilizer Application

The kind and amount of fertilizer to apply depends on soil fertility and soil type. To achieve optimum yield, have your soil analyzed at the Soils Laboratory nearest you to determine the right nutrient requirement of the soil. In the absence of soil analysis, apply the following fertilizers at the time and amount specified:

 

 

Type of Fertilizer

 

Rate of

Application/ha.

 

 

Time of Application

 

 

Method of Application

14-14-14

2 bags

During planting

Basal

Organic (fully decomposed animal manure or commercial organic fertilizer)

20 bags

During planting

Basal

 

46-0-0

 

2 bags

30 days after planting

 

Side dress

 

46-0-0 + 0-0-60 (2:1)

 

2 bags +1 bag

45 days after planting

 

Side dress


Cover the basal fertilizer with thin soil before planting to avoid direct contact with the roots of the seedlings. Place the sidedress fertilizer 10 cm away from the base of the plants to avoid burning effects.

Trellising

Provide the plants with trellis to produce fruits of good quality. Trellising is also essential during the wet season to minimize fruit rotting and malformation. Construct overhead trellises at a distance of 2 to 3 m wide and 2 m high using ipil-ipil or bamboo poles. Provide strong roof trellis by intertwining tie wire or nylon twine crosswise and lengthwise on top of the trellis. Provide a ladder-like trellis or vertical pole for each upoplant to facilitate the vines to climb up. Train the vines to climb the trellis by tying the stem lightly on the vertical pole or ladder-like trellis until it reaches the overhead trellis.

Pruning

To promote branching and fruiting, remove the tip of the main vine and the lower lateral branches that appear on the climbing part of the main stem.

Weed Control

Bottle gourd is moderately deep-rooted with extensive lateral root system.Weeds near the row of the plants can be controlled by off-barring or re-plowing 14 days after planting. Hill-up at 15 to 20 days after emergence or 1 month after planting if un-mulched. Minimize cultivation during the fruiting stage to avoid disturbing the roots. Hand weeding is recommended during this stage.

Irrigation and Water Management

Irrigate the field 14 days after emergence by flooding. Repeat irrigation every seven days throughout the growing season or as need arises.

Bottle gourd is sensitive to excessive soil moisture, which favors disease infection. Provide adequate drainage during wet season to avoid water logging. Furrow irrigation is recommended during dry season at weekly interval. Spread rice straw around the base of the plants as mulch to conserve moisture and minimize watering during dry season.

Insect Pest and Disease Control

 
To prevent insect pests damage and disease infection, practice good cultural management and sanitation. Most common insect pest of upo is the yellow beetle and the most common disease is fruit rot. In case of disease infection or pest infestation, follow the management practices for specific disease or pest provided in the Insect Pest and Disease Management Guide for Lowland Vegetables. Flowers of upo usually open in the afternoon. Protect insect pollinators because they are contributors to fruit development. Avoid applying pesticides in the afternoon (after 4:00 PM).

Pest

Control

Leaf folders

Methomyl

Yellow squash beetle

Deltamethrin

 

Disease

Control

Anthracnose

Captan


Harvesting

Fruits develop very fast and require much attention at harvest time. Harvesting can be done when fruits meet the standard size base on the varietal characteristics. It usually takes 15 days to reach marketable size from the day of fruit set or 60 to 80 days from sowing. Harvest fruits using a sharp knife by cutting the peduncle, leaving approximately 5 cm length. Put harvested fruits in a woven basket lined with banana leaves to avoid skin bruises. Pack marketable fruits in plastic bags.

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