Growing Kantola, Kakrol, Spine Gourd
Scientific name of spine gourd is Momordica dioica. Spine gourd is a cucurbitaceous vegetable which is closely related to bitter gourd. However, it is not bitter in taste as bitter gourd. As in case of other cucurbitaceous vegetables (cucurbits) which mainly include melons and gourds, spine gourd is also grown as a summer vegetable in tropical and subtropical countries. Spine gourd is called Kantola or kakrol in Hindi, mada hagalakai in Kannada, kadu peere in Tulu, and paagila in Konkani.
Spine gourd is believed to be originated in the tropics of the old world. (Please refer PPT-‘centers of crop origin’ for more information)
Nutritional Value per 100 gm of Edible Vegetable
Spine gourd has a high nutritional and medicinal value. It helps build natural immunity of a human body. Spine gourd contains 84.1% moisture, 7.7 g of carbohydrate, 3.1 g of protein, 3.1 g of fat, 3.0 g of fiber, 1.1 g of minerals and small quantities of essential vitamins like ascorbic acid, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.
Production Centers in Indian Subcontinent
West Bengal and Karnataka are two major Indian states that grow kantola commercially. Kantola is largely cultivated in Malda and Nadia districts of West Bengal.
As in case of most cucurbits, spine gourd is a shallow rooted crop and hence shallow cultivation should be practiced.
Climate Spine gourd is a warm season crop and can be successfully cultivated in the plains and hills of sub-tropical and tropical regions. Plenty of sunshine and low humidity are ideal conditions for its growth.
Soil A well-drained sandy loam soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 is the most ideal soil condition for kantola production.
Propagation Propagation of spine gourd is via seeds as in case of any other cucurbits.
Sowing Time Kantola can be grown both as a summer crop and a rainy season crop. Sowing time for kantola crop in tropical plains is January –February for summer crop and July-August for rainy season crop. Sowing time in tropical hills is April.
Seed Rate Approximately, 1-2 Kg seeds are required for sowing one acre of area. Seeds may be extracted from good quality ripe fruits and dried and stored for further uses.
Field Preparation Field is well prepared by 2 – 3 ploughing followed by tilling and levelling of the soil. Well-rotten organic manure or FYM (farm yard manure)@10-15 tonnes/acre is incorporated with the top soil during the last ploughing to enhance soil fertility. Ridges or raised beds are prepared in the field with furrows in between. Furrows are meant for flood irrigation and ridges are meant for sowing seeds on them.
Recommended spacing to be followed (if staking is not practiced) is, 1-2 meter between two ridges and 60-90 cm between two plants. If staking is practiced, this spacing may be reduced according to your cultivation requirements.
Seeds are sown by placing two or three seeds deep into the pits prepared on raised beds at 1-2 cm depth. If more seeds/pit is used, thinning should be done after the sprouting of seedlings.
First irrigation is done soon after sowing by watering the beds lightly to facilitate seed germination. Subsequent irrigations may be done depending upon the soil moisture level and prevailing weather conditions.
Fungal diseases such as anthracnose, downy mildew, and powdery mildew, bacterial disease- angular leaf spot, and viral disease-mosaic are major diseases found in spine gourd. Fungal disease may be controlled by the application of any of the recommended fungicides. Removal and destruction of mosaic affected plants may prevent further spread this viral disease. Other disease control measures that can be adopted are crop rotation, effective wed control in the field, seed treatment with recommended chemical before sowing and so on. In organic production practices, seeds treated with a mixture of cow urine and cow dung (a biodynamic preparation) and sun dried before using them for sowing, eliminate the incidences of a majority of seed-borne diseases.
Fruit flies are a major problem. Use of any of the recommended organic pesticides may eliminate this problem. Also you may use any of the mechanical control methods such as baits, insect traps etc to catch and kill the adult flies. Nematodes may also be a problem. Application of neem cake in the soil at the time of field preparation may eliminate this problem. Growing marigold, a nematode-repellant plant, as an intercrop may also be tried as a nematode control measure.
Weeding should be done regularly. Manual weeding and hand-hoeing is recommended.
Kantola is harvested when their fruits are still young and tender. Frequent harvesting at every alternate day or at 2-3 days intervals is recommended to avoid losses due to over-sized and over-mature fruits. Fruits are allowed to ripen only if you want to extract seeds from ripened fruits for propagation purposes. If that is the case, harvest the fruits only after the ripe fruit has changed colour from green to yellow to orange and the fruit pulp has entirely turned red in colour with mature seeds.
An average yield of 650 g/plant is obtained under good cultural practices. That is, approximately 5000 Kg kantola from one acre of area.
Availability in the Indian Market
Kantola or kakrol is available in the Indian market for a period of 7-8 months starting from mid-April.