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 Bitter Gourd (Ampalaya) Production Guide

           Bitter gourd or ampalaya (Momordica charantia L.) belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae. It is also known as paria (Ilocano,Indonesia), palia (Bisaya), peria (Malaysia); and balsam pear (English).

           It is high in vitamins and an excellent source of iron and calcium. Fruits, young shoots and flowers are used as vegetables. It is also known to cure diabetes, arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, warts, abscesses and ulcers.

Production Statistics

          Total production volume in 1997 was 43,043 t with the biggest growers in Regions II & IV. These are generally two types being grown: the Sta. Rita, which is long, dark green & less warty; and the pinakbet type, which is short, small, warty and very bitter. The pale and white varieties popular in other Southeast Asian countries are not preferred locally.

Production Management


Variety                              Maturity (days)                         Remarks

Sta. Rita (strains)                            70-75                            OP
Makiling                                          65-70                            OP
Sta. Isabel                                       70-75                           OP
Jade Star (A,L,XL)                            60-70                            F1 hybrid
Mayon                                            65-70                            F1 hybrid
Million Green                                   65-75                            F1 hybrid

Climatic and Soil Requirements

           Bitter gourd grows best in low elevation areas anytime of the year. It can also be grown in mid elevation. Bitter gourd grows well in any type of soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Production is best, however, in sandy loam soil.

Land Preparation

           Prepare the soil thoroughly by plowing all harrowing twice. Make furrows 3 m apart. Apply 5 t/ha well-decomposed animal manure two weeks before planting.


           Bitter gourd can be direct seeded or transplanted. A 1-ha production areas requires 2-3 kg seeds. Crack seed coat to facilitate water absorption. Soak seeds in water overnight or wrap in cheesecloth. Transplant the following day or at radicle break. Spacing is 3 m between rows and 30 cm between hills. If pre-germinated or transplanted, use only one seed per hill.


           At planting, apply complete fertilizer (14-14-14) at the rate of 15-20 g/hill. During the dry season, side-dress 10-20 g/hill urea (46-0-0) and muriate of potash (0-0-60) once a month. However during the wet season, side dress- 5-10 g/hill urea and muriate of potash every two weeks.

Trellising, Vine Training and Pruning

           Bitter gourd grows best with overhead trellis. Use bamboo or ipil-ipil posts at 3m x 3m spacing. Construct vertical trellis (along he row) and overhead trellis with a combination of GI wire and abaca twine or nylon string. Spacing of 1.5 m between rows and 0.75 cm between hills may also be used.

           Train the vines on the vertical trellis. Lateral shoots may be pruned, leaving only the main vine. Remove all female flowers below the overhead trellis. Allow branching and fruiting on the overhead trellis. Fruits may also be allowed to form just above the 10th node.

Pest and Disease Management

Insect Pests/Diseases                       Recommendations
                                      Spray with hot pepper extract or soap solution
Cucurbit beetle                          Spread wood ash; spray carbamates
Cutworm                                    Spray with hot pepper extract or Bascillus thuringiensis
Leaf folders                               Collect folded leaves
Fruit fly                                      Plastic bagging; fruit fly attractant
Bacterial wilt                             Sanitation;avoidance
Downy mildew                          Remove infected leaves; spray with mancozeb, Acrobat;use                                                   compost tea (Compost tea is prepared by fermenting compost                                                   for 10-14 days. The effluent is sprayed to control foliar diseases).
Little leaf                                   Sanitation;crop rotation
'Namamarako'                           Crop rotation; use Borax


           Harvest when the fruits are green, shiny and have attained full ssize. This is about 15-20 days from poliination or 60-95 days from planting. Priming can be done at 2-3 days interval. Harvesting can be done continuously for 2-3 months.


Sort fruits according to market standards, and remove damaged fruits. Pack in plastic or bamboo crates lined with newspaper or bamboo leaves. Under this condition, fruits can be kept for 2-3 days. It can be stored at 4oC for three weeks.

Cost and Return Analysis Per Hectare

ITEMS                                                               AMOUNT (P)
                                      P 115,270
A.     Labor (P150/MD)
        Plowing                                                 1,500
        Harrowing (2x)                                       1,000  
        Bedding                                                1,500
        Manure application (10 MD                     1,000
        Planting (2 MD)                                        300
        Mulching w/ rice straw
        (8 MD)                                                  1,200
        Fertilization; basal (2 MD) &                    2,100
        Side-dress (12 MD)
        Irrigation (40 MD)                                    6,000
        Spraying ( 30 MD)                                  4,500
        Weeding (20 MD)                                   3,000
        Trellising (60 MD)                                   9,000
        Vine training, pruning                              4,500
        Harvesting (50 MD)                                 7,500
        Miscellaneous (20 MD)                           3,000
                  Sub-total                                    46,100

        Seeds (3 kg//ha)                                    10,000
        Animal manure (5 t)                                 5,000
           14-14-14 (5 bags)                                 1,750
           46-0-0 ( 8 bags)                                    3,720
           0-0-60 (2 bags)                                     1,200
            Ipil-ipil posts (1,200pcs)
            2 uses                                              12,000
            GI wire (300 kg); 4 uses                     12,000
            Abaca twine (200 rolls)                        8,000
       Pesticides                                               5,000
       Fuel & Oil                                                5,000
       Miscellaneous                                          5,000
                  Sub-total                                     69,170

II. FIXED COSTS                                            20,563
Land rental                                          7,500

              5 pcs. Scythe (2 yrs)                  63
              5 pcs. Hoe ( 3 yrs)                    125
              3 pcs. Shovel (3 yrs)                   75
              2 knapsack sprayers (5 yrs)       800
Interest on Loans at 20% int. p.a.         12,000

TOTAL COSTS                                             135,833
GROSS INCOME                            150,000 -225,000
NET INCOME                                     14,167 -89,167

With marketable yield of 10-15 t/ha at P15/kg

           Source: Bitter Gourd
           Production Guide
           Info Bulletin
           No. 158/2000
           Reproduced By:
           Department of Agriculture
           REGION IV-B