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Pusa Hybrid-4: First Gynoecious-based Hybrid of Bitter Gourd

Pusa Hybrid-4 is a revolutionary bitter gourd hybrid that promises high yields and sufficient nutritional content in North Indian climates, enhancing profitability and sustainability for farmers and benefiting consumers.

Shreetu Singh
Pusa Hybrid-4: First Gynoecious based Hybrid of Bitter Gourd, Image source: Canva and T K Behera, G S Jat, Research A D Munshi and B S Tomar, Indian Horticulture, January–February 2022, 3-4
Pusa Hybrid-4: First Gynoecious based Hybrid of Bitter Gourd, Image source: Canva and T K Behera, G S Jat, Research A D Munshi and B S Tomar, Indian Horticulture, January–February 2022, 3-4

Bitter gourd is a vegetable known for its nutritional benefits, including high levels of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, especially ascorbic acid and iron. It has numerous medicinal uses, such as treating diabetes, and exhibits antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. Researchers have developed different varieties of bitter gourd for high yield, disease resistance, and adaptability. The Pusa Hybrid-4, the first early and high-yielding gynoecious hybrid, has been recommended for cultivation in the National Capital Region of Delhi and nearby areas in Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh by the Central Sub-Committee on Crop Standards, Notification, and Release of Varieties for Horticultural Crops.

Introduction to Pusa Hybrid-4

Pusa Hybrid-4 is the result of meticulous breeding, using a gynoecious line as the female parent and a monoecious line as the male parent. This combination results in a predominantly gynoecious hybrid with a high female-to-male flower ratio of 2:1, significantly better than the commercial variety Pusa Do Mausami's 1:9 ratio. This higher female flower count translates directly to increased fruit production.

Morphology and Characteristics

The fruits of Pusa Hybrid-4 are dark green, medium-long, and medium-thick, with an average length of 16 cm and a diameter of 5.5-6.5 cm. Featuring 5-6 discontinuous narrow ridges, these fruits are ready for the first harvest just 45-50 days after sowing. Each fruit weighs approximately 60 grams, and the hybrid's average yield is an impressive 22.26 tonnes per hectare, 25.7% higher than the national check variety, Private Hybrid ‘Vivek’.

Nutritional Capacity

One of the standout features of Pusa Hybrid-4 is its high iron content. At 18.20 mg/100 g, it surpasses the iron content of Vivek (6.77 mg/100 g), making it a more nutritious choice for consumers. This high nutrient value, combined with its high yield, makes Pusa Hybrid-4 a highly attractive option for farmers and consumers alike.

Soil and Climate

Pusa Hybrid-4 thrives in a variety of soil types, from sandy loam to clay soils, with well-drained, fertile, and organically rich silt or clay loam soils being ideal. It requires a warm growing season with temperatures between 24-30°C. High temperatures above 40°C can adversely affect flower production, fruit set, and plant growth.

Sowing Time and Cultivation Practices

For optimal growth, 4 to 5 kg of seed is sufficient for sowing one hectare. Seeds should be treated with Thiram (2.5 g/kg of seed) before sowing in February-March for a summer crop. Proper spacing (1.5 m apart with 60 cm between plants) and frequent hand weeding, hoeing, and light earthing up are essential for maintaining a weed-free crop and promoting healthy plant development.

Irrigation and Fertilizer Management

Pusa Hybrid-4 cannot tolerate drought or water stagnation. Irrigation should be done frequently, especially during flowering and fruiting stages, to ensure optimal growth. For fertilization, 20-25 tonnes of farmyard manure, 70 kg nitrogen, 40 kg phosphorus, and 30 kg potassium per hectare are recommended. These should be applied in several split doses to match the plant's growth and harvesting schedule.

Plant Protection

To manage diseases like powdery mildew, fusarium wilt, and downy mildew, various fungicides and crop rotation strategies are effective. For pest management, practices such as collecting and destroying infested fruits, raking soil to expose fruit fly pupae, and using cue-lure traps are recommended. Regular spraying with appropriate insecticides also helps in controlling pests like aphids, whiteflies, and red pumpkin beetles.

Harvesting and Seed Production

Fruits of Pusa Hybrid-4 are ready for harvest 45-50 days after sowing. For seed production, both open fields and protected structures can be used. Proper isolation or hand pollination ensures the purity of hybrid seeds. Mature fruits are harvested when they turn orange-yellow, and seeds are extracted, dried, and stored in moisture-proof bags.

(Source: T K Behera, G S Jat, Research A D Munshi and B S Tomar, Indian Horticulture, January–February 2022, 3-4)

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