In our country a wide range of variability in plant and fruit characters exists in bitter gourd. The varieties grown in summer season are small fruited and those grown in rainy season are long fruited. Bitter gourd is essentially a warm season crop grown mainly in tropical and subtropical regions, However, it can also be grown at slightly lower temperature. In India, it is grown from the plains to an altitude of 1500 metres. The growth requirements of bitter gourd are generally long period of warm preferably dry weather with plenty of sunshine. For good fruit quality, dry weather during fruit maturity is necessary. It is not adapted to resist even light frost and will have to be given proper protection if grown in winter months.
Bitter gourd is generally grown in summer as well as in rainy season. In the latter season, vine growth is spread very extensively. In South and Central India it can be cultivated round the year.
The important recommended varieties of bitter gourd are described below.
It is a selection from local collection, suitable for spring, summer and rainy season cultivation. This variety has been released by the I.A.R.I., New Delhi. The fruits reach edible maturity, in about 55 days from sowing. Fruits are dark green, long, medium thick, club shaped with 7-8 continuous ridges, 18 cm long at edible stage and 8-10 fruits weigh about one kilogram.
It has been released by the IIHR, Bangalore. It has medium sized, spindle shaped fruits with green skin, thick flesh, moderate bitterness and less number of seeds. It grows well both in summer and rainy season but maximum yield is obtained during rainy season. Fruits are ready for harvesting in 12-14 days after pollination. It yields about 120 quintal fruits per hectare in 100-110 days duration.
This variety has been released by the Agricultural Research Institute, Coimbatore. Fruits are long, tender and white in colour. This variety is suitable for rainy season. The vines are prolific and heavy yielder.
It is a selection from Kerala Agricultual University. The fruits are extra long (about 39 cm long). It takes about 60 days from sowing to first harvest. On an average, there are 55 fruits per plant.
This is a long fruited and high yielding bitter gourd variety. It is medium branching and early flowering variety. The vine bears about 20-25 fruits per plant and the per hectare yield is about 250 quintals.
This variety has been released and recommended for cultivation as summer season crop by the I.A.R.I., New Delhi. The vine is dwarf and bushy and easy to manage. The fruits are attractive green, fusiform with many irregular broken smooth and glossy ridges on the surface. They are medium long and thick. It is early in maturity and takes about 55 days to come to harvest after sowing.