Vegetable Science

Bitter Gourd

Other Names: Balsam pear, Bitter cucumber

Botanical Name:  Momordica charantia L.

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Chromosome Number: 2n=22

Origin: Tropical Asia or Indo Burma

Important Points

  • The bitter principle in the bitter gourd is momordicin.
  • Bitter gourd is rich in iron.
  • High temperatures above 400C cause maleness in bitter gourd.

Area and production

It is widely grown in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore and extensively grown in China, Japan, South-East Asia, tropical Africa, and South America. In 2018, In India, it is grown in an area of 97000 ha with annual production of 1137000 M tonnes. The area and production are fast increasing and some of the leading states in the country are Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala.

Economic importance

  • The fruits are containing 92.0g of moisture, 1.60g of protein, 0.20 gm fat, 1.8mg of iron, 210 IU vitamin A, and 88.0 mg of vitamin C as per 100 gm fresh weight of the fruit.
  • The fruit is reported to have a germicidal effect and is laxative and easily digestible.
  • It is considered good for curing blood diseases, diabetes, and asthma.
  • Bitter gourd leaves are known to act as galactogogs and a powder prepared from the leaves is good for treating ulcers.
  • The fruits are also utilized in the preparation of pickles and stored as dry vegetables.


1. Selection

  • Pusa Do Mousami (developed from IARI)
  • Preethi (KAU, Vellanikkara),
  • Pusa Vishesh (IARI),
  • Coimbatore Long (TNAU), Harkani,
  • Priyanka (KAU, SRS, Thiruvalla)
  • Konkan Tara (Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli, MH),
  • Arka Harit (IIHR, Banglore)
  • VK-1 (Priya) (KAU, Vellanikkara, Thrissur),
  • MDU- 1 (TNAU Agriculture College, Madurai),
  • Long White,
  • Punjab BG- 14,
  • Phule BG- 6,
  • Co-1,
  • Kalyanpur Barahmasi,
  • Kalyanpur Sona,
  • Hissar Selection,

2. Hybrid

  • Phule Green Gold- Green Gold X Delhi Local (MPKV, Rahuri),
  • BGOH-1- MC.-84 X MDU.-1 (TNAU, Coimbatore),
  • Pusa Hybrid 1 (IARI),
  • RHR BGH 1 (MPKV, Rahuri) 


It can be cultivated under both tropical and sub-tropical climates but a warm climate is considered best. For good growth and high yield temperature between 25°- 30°C is best.

At low temperatures below 20°C, the growth is slow leading to poor yield. When temperature is above 37°C there is poor production of female flowers resulting in poor yield. Short days slightly increased the number of pistillate flowers as compared to long days.


Bitter gourd can be grown in all types of soils but sandy loam and silt loam soils, rich in organic matter and well drainage are best. The suitable pH would be 6.5-7.0.


  • In hills, the seed is sown from April to July.
  • In plains and North India, the seed is sown from January to March. The second rainy season crop is taken in June-July.

Seed Rate and seed treatment

About 4 to 5 kg of seeds is sufficient to sow one hectare.

Soaking the seeds in water for 6 to 12 hours will increase germination. The seeds have to be treated with Thiram @ 2g/kg of seeds.

Preparation of field

Plough the field for 3-4 times. Apply 20-25 tonnes of farmyard manure at the last ploughing.


Long furrows/channels of 60cm width are formed at a spacing of 2m. Along this channel, pits of 45cm are dug at a spacing of 1.5m. Four seeds are sown per pit and later two to three seedlings per pit are retained. Instead of sowing in the main field, the seeds can be sown in polythene bags and can be shifted to pits in the main field after 15-20 days


Fertilizers should be applied as per the soil test. Generally, 56:30:30 Kg/Ha NPK is given to crop if the soil has a medium fertility level.

The full dose of phosphorus, potash, and a half dose of nitrogen is given at the last ploughing, and the remaining dose of nitrogen is given 30 days after sowing as a top dressing. 


The crop should be irrigated immediately after planting in summer and subsequently at 2-3 days intervals until flowering. Rainy-season crop normally does not require much watering except during dry spells.

Weed control

The field should be free from weeds. So two to three weeding is necessary to reduce the weed population. Herbicides like Glycophosphate at 4.5kg/ha if applied after weed emergence and before sowing, weeds can be effectively controlled.

Use of Growth regulators

Sr. No.











Increase female flowers and more seeds in fruit




Increase female flowers




Increase female flowers



50-100 ppm

Increase female flowers




Reduce female flower




Increase yield

Spraying the plants twice at the 2 and 4-true-leaf stage


The crop is ready for harvesting after 60-70 days after sowing according to cultivar and season. Immature tender fruits are harvested. The colour of tender fruit is light green or dark green depending upon variety. Regular harvesting at shorter intervals will increase the fruit number


The average yield of bitter gourd varies from 100-150 q/ha, while 200-300q/ha of hybrids.