Pests of Snake Gourd, Snake Gourd Seed Germination

Introduction to snake gourd pests and diseases: The snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina) is a creeping plant and it is a common cucurbitaceous vegetable.You can apply this pests and diseases information for growing snake gourd in pots, growing snake gourd on terrace, growing snake gourd in backyard, growing snake gourd in balcony, growing snake gourd indoors, growing snake gourd in open fields, growing snake gourd in polyhouse, growing snake gourd in shadenet, growing snake gourd from seed, and growing snake gourd outdoors.

In this article we also discussed the following topics;

  • Time to take for growing snake gourd
  • Snake gourd seed germination
  • Temperature for growing snake gourd
  • Snake gourd spacing for the plant to plant
  • Effect of pests and diseases in snake gourd
  • Drying snake gourd
  • The yield of snake gourd
  • Snake gourd spacing in rows

A step by step guide to the diseases and pests of snake gourd

Conditions for growing snake gourd              

Snake gourd is adapted to a variety of soil and climatic conditions. It requires a minimum temperature of 18°C during early growth, but optimal temperatures are in the range of 24 to 27°C. Snake gourd plant tolerates a wide range of soil but prefers a well-drained sandy loam soil that is rich in organic matter. The optimum soil pH is 6.0 to 6.7, but plants tolerate alkaline soils up to pH 8.0.

Snake gourd grows well in any good soil; they yield the highest productivity in the areas with sandy loam soils. The pH contains in the soil should not be extreme and needs to be limiting to 6.5-7.5. The cropland must be well-drained and aerated.

Snake Gourd Growing Conditions.
Snake Gourd Growing Conditions.

Temperature for growing snake gourd – During their growing stage, a minimum 18 to 21° C and afterward 24-27° C optimal temperature is most ideal for snake gourd growing. The extreme climate is unsuitable for growing snake gourd.

Sow 2-3 seeds per cells or pots, thin to the strongest seedling. Use individual biodegradable paper, peat, or cow pots because it provides the least amount of stress to the plant roots when transplanting. And transplant after the last frost when the soil warms to 70ºF. Space 36-48 inches apart, in rows 48-60 inches apart.

After soaking the seeds, then plant them in a moist seed-starting mix in large flowerpots. Then cover the pots with plastic wrap to hold the moisture. When the sprouts appear, within 10 days, remove the plastic wrap.

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Seed germination in snake gourd – After the seeds germinate, between 10 and 30 days after planting, the seedlings need regular watering. Once you plant them in the home garden, water twice a week or when the soil is dry to the touch. Adding a side dressing of compost 3 weeks after planting the seedlings gives additional nutrients as the snake gourd vines grow. The snake gourd plants need a large trellis to support their 4 1/2- to 6-foot-long fruits. Harvest the gourds 3 months after the seeds germinate. If there is no rain you must irrigate snake gourd plants at least twice a week. If you can, setting up drip irrigation can save you a lot of time as well as water.

Snake gourd is a climbing herb with tendrils divided into 3 parts. It has hairy, angular or 5 to 7 lobed plant leaves. It has white cylindrical, slender, tapering fruits with a waxy surface and its fruits are orange in color when ripe and pulpy red at maturity. Snake gourds take about 180 days total from planting until they produce ripe fruit, as a result of their extra-long germination process. Keep in mind that if you’re in a cold area, you’ll need to start your seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost of the season. Snake gourds grow best in temperatures between 75 and 85ºF. Starting growing snake gourds indoors involves planting the seeds in individual containers and watering daily.

You do not need a trellis to grow gourds, as they will grow fine on the ground. After the seeds have been scarified, put them in a bowl of lukewarm water and allow them to soak. This must be done for a total of 24 hours, to help speed up the snake gourd seed germination process. After soaking seeds for 24 hours, remove the seeds from the water and lay them out to dry on a piece of wax paper. Giving them time to dry out will prevent them from rotting before even sprouting. Fill small seed trays with prepared soil, and place a single seed in each slot.

In the location you’ve selected for a garden plot, use a small trowel or shovel to prepare the holes for the gourd seedlings. If you’re planting many gourds at once, space rows at least 5 feet (1.5 m) apart, and there are 2 feet (0.6 m) of space between each snake gourd in a single row.

Place small seedling or seed into its hole; don’t group several in the same space. Cover up the seeds with about ½ inch of dirt, and cover seedlings to the base of the new growth. Care for your newly planted snake gourds. At planting, water the snake gourd seeds heavily to reduce the risk of transplant shock.

Snake gourds like plenty of moisture, so make sure the soil is damp by adding water daily if necessary. Remove weeds as they sprout, as these will steal valuable nutrients and growing space from the snake gourds. If you’re using a trellis, as the snake gourds grow in size you can use a bit of string to secure them to the posts and give them plenty of room for growth.

Add a layer of mulch to the home garden plot to lock in moisture and block out new weeds. Incorporating an equal-part fertilizer such as 10-10-10 mixture to the soil every few months. Give your snake gourds extra water when the weather is particularly dry or hot, to maintain a high level of moisture in the soil.

Harvesting snake gourd – For most early varieties, you must be able to start harvesting your snake gourd in about 3 months after germination. You must harvest the fruits before they are too mature and start ripening.

Harvest snake gourds when young, around 40 to 50 days from planting. The long varietals may then be ready when only 16 to 18 inches, while the shorter cultivars will be around 6 to 8 inches in length. You can leave your snake gourds to dry on the vines in the field. Just pick them up and shake them periodically. When you hear the seeds rattling around, the snake gourds are dry and you should cut them off their vines. Another way to dry your snake gourds is to cut them from the vines when the leaves and stems begin turning brown.

If you are growing them for the first time, it can be harder to know if they are ready for picking. However, it is ok to pick them young if you are not sure of their fruit maturity. When they are young and edible the snake gourd fruit will appear turgid and hard when pressed between your fingers.

If you wait longer, the snake gourd will ripen. Once it ripens, the snake gourd will appear soft when pressed between fingers. The internals of the fruit will become watery and at this stage, the fruits are not good for cooking.

The average yield of the snake gourd is 18 tonnes per hectare in 135 to 145 days. However, the plant yield varies from variety to variety. Apart from this, soil type, irrigation, season affect the snake gourd yield.

Pests and diseases in snake gourd

Leaf beetles and root-knot nematodes are the main problem pests for Snake Gourd. Fungicidal control can be required for downy mildew and anthracnose. Fruit soft rot, causing small black spots on the end of the fruit.

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Snake Gourd Pests and Diseases.
Snake Gourd Pests and Diseases.

Identification pest of snake gourd and their control

Fruit fly (Batrocera cucurbitae)

Egg-laying puncture marks on snake gourd fruit surface, oozing of fruit juice. Softening and water-soaked lesion on fruits. At later stage fruit get rotten. After hatching legless and headless rice-shaped maggot feeds on fruit pulp and full-grown larvae come out from fruit for pupation. Adults with hyaline wings with costal band broad, anal stripes well developed and hind cross veins thickly margined with brown and grey color spots.

For damages, fruits use 20 x 15 cm poly bags of fish meal traps available with 5 g fish meal in addition to 1 ml of  Dichlorvos per ha using cotton. Remove fish meal tapper after 20 days while cotton could be removed after 7 days. As a foliar spray, the use of neem oil at 3.0 % is effective. And eliminate the soiled fruits immediately from the tree.

  • Collect the damaged snake gourd fruits and destroy them.
  • The fruit fly population is low in hot day conditions and it is a peak in the rainy season.
  • Hence, the sowing time can be adjusted accordingly.
  • Expose the pupae by plowing and use 20 x 15 cm poly bags fish meal traps with 5 g of fish meal + 1 ml of Dichlorvos in cotton @ 50 traps/ha. Fish meal and cotton are to be removed in 20 and 7 days respectively.
  • Also, apply neem oil @ 3.0 % need-based as a foliar spray.

Leaf caterpillars and beetles

This destroys the lively leaves and growing stems. Use Trichlorfon spray 50% (EC) 1.0 ml per liter or Dichlorvos spray 76% (EC) – 6.5 ml per 10 liters of water and apply. And spray Dichlorvos 76% EC 6.5 ml/10 lit or Trichlorofon 50% EC 1.0 ml/l.

Leaf eating caterpillar is a serious pest where damage to the plant is highest. The caterpillars can be seen on the lower surface of the leaves and feed on the young developing leaves, thereby curtailing the growth of the vine. Pupae in silken cocoons can be seen and these caterpillars when coming in contact with human skin can also cause severe rash and allergies. The plant appears to be wilting and severely drooping leaves is the sign of this pest.

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If the area under cultivation is very small, handpicking the pest using protective gloves is best. Though, if the area is large, then it becomes very time-consuming. Spraying with chloropyriphos @ 2 ml per liter and Quinalphos @ 1 ml per liter is effective. But great care should be taken while spraying these chemicals as they are high in mammilian toxicity.

Spraying should be done on the lower surface of the leaves and younger, tender leaves must be sprayed first. In some cases, natural predators such as birds feed on the caterpillars. So spraying must be done when the situation demands.

Snake gourd semi looper

Ovaries and young developing fruits are eaten. An affected flower bears no fruits and infested fruits become unfit for consumption. The adult has transparent white wings with broad and also dark brown marginal patches and an orange-colored anal tuft of hairs in the female. Larva elongate bright green color with a pair of thin white longitudinal lines on the dorsal side. Pupation takes place in a cocoon in the flowers.

Fruit borer

The serious pest damaging the young fruits is Daucus cucurbitae which is mentioned under growing snake gourd. This shows yellow or brown discoloration on the fruit as a result of boring the tender fruits. Since the attack is on standing crops, chemical pesticides must not be used as it will leave behind toxic residue. Using pheromone traps is the best and economical method to control the pest. Spraying with neem-based repellents can also be done the infected young fruits must be destroyed as they contain young larvae that will emerge and pupate in the soil, thus continuing the cycle.

Identification diseases of snake gourd and their control

Powdery mildew

This can be controlled mainly by spraying Dinocap 1 ml/lit or Carbendazim 0.5 g/lit. White or brown patches form on the upper and lower side of the leaves and stems. This generally develops in hot, dry seasons. And the plant growth is retarded.

Spraying of wettable sulfur 0.1% helps control this disease. Powdery mildew can also be controlled by spraying Dinocap 1 ml/lit.

Downy mildew

This disease can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb or Chlorothalonil 2 g/lit twice at 10 days interval. Pale green areas mainly appear on the upper side of the leaf, with fungal growth on the lower side of the leaf resulting in the drying of the affected leaf. Plants planted with sufficient spacing with excellent ventilation and drainage facilities along with sunlight exposure helps control the disease. Also, seed treatment with Apron SD 35 at the rate of 2 gm per Kg along with spraying of Mancozeb 0.2% helps control the disease.


Plant growth is cupped downwards with the plant leaves having patches of green and light green over, affecting plant growth. The fruits develop protrusions and discolored. The virus is transmitted normally by Aphids. This could be controlled by using a variety that is resistant to the Mosaic virus. Removal of the affected parts of the plant there can help. Spraying of insecticide Dimethoate 0.05% or Neem oil over the snake gourd plants affected will help control the disease.

That’s all folks about snake gourd pests and diseases and thier control metthods. You might be interested in Growing Yam, Cultivation Practices.



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