Gourds are a group of agricultural crops of food, fodder and technical importance belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family.
Melon growing is a direction of agricultural production for the cultivation of gourds.
Luffa can also be grown on private farms.
Sometimes, gourds are classified as vegetables.
Table varieties of gourds are cultivated to obtain juicy fruits with high taste qualities.
Forage varieties of watermelon , pumpkin and zucchini are used for livestock feed, they are distinguished by their milk-producing properties. They can also be used ensiled in a mixture with corn, beet or potato tops, legumes.
Edible oil is obtained from the seeds of gourds, especially pumpkins.
Luffa may be of interest for agricultural production for technical purposes.
Due to the high sugar content in fruits, gourds can serve as an additional raw material for the production of sugar.
Gourds are of agrotechnical importance, since after them the fields remain clean from weeds.
Melon growing in Russia has been carried out since antiquity, as evidenced by archaeological finds of watermelon seeds near the Tsimlyansk Sea dating back to the 8th century AD. On the territory of Central Asia, melon seeds were found , which were grown in the 3rd century BC.
Industrial melon growing appeared in the middle of the 19th century, when gourds became widespread in the Lower Volga region, Kuban, Ukraine and Central Asia. Now the boundaries of the cultivation of melons and gourds have significantly advanced to the north and east.
The sown area occupied by gourds in the world is over 1 million hectares. Producing countries of gourds are China, India, Japan, countries of Africa, Central and South America, Europe (Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Italy).
In the period of the USSR, the sown areas of melons and gourds amounted to 201-224 thousand hectares. In 1997, the area on the territory of Russia was 170 thousand hectares, in 2001-2005. – 145 thousand hectares. Russia occupies one of the leading places in the world in terms of sown areas under gourds.
Conventionally, melon growing areas in Russia are divided into two zones:
- the North Caucasus, the Lower and Middle Volga regions, where approximately 90% of all cultivated areas of gourds are concentrated, mainly watermelon;
- The Central Black Earth zone, the central regions of the Non-Chernozem zone, the Trans-Urals, Siberia and the Far East, where mainly early ripe varieties of watermelon and pumpkin are cultivated .
The conditions of Russia, where the share of arable lands in the steppe and dry steppe zones is large, make it possible to significantly expand commercial melon growing, that is, not only to supply gourds to the domestic market, but also to significantly increase the share of exports, taking into account quality control and environmental safety.
The largest yields of gourds on non-irrigated lands are obtained in the North Caucasus, on irrigated lands – in the Lower Volga region.
Gourds belong to the Cucurbitaceae family. The family includes more than 100 genera and over 1000 species of heat-loving plants, distributed mainly in the subtropics.
In Russia, 4 types are cultivated:
- watermelon (Citrullous);
- melon (Melo);
- pumpkin (Cucurbita);
Gourds are demanding on soil fertility and cleanliness of fields from weeds. They give a good harvest on virgin, floodplain and fallow lands, according to the layer and turnover of the layer of perennial grasses. After perennial grasses, gourds suffer less from fungal diseases and give higher yields of better quality. For fodder purposes, they are recommended to be placed in near-farm crop rotations.
For farms specializing in gourds, special crop rotations are recommended , for example, 1 – winter rye + grasses; 2 – herbs of the 1st year; 3 – herbs of the 2nd year; 4 – herbs of the 3rd year; 5 – gourds; 6 – gourds; 7 – spring wheat; 8 – corn for silage. The share of melons is 25%.
In Central Asia, a melon-lucerne-grain crop rotation is recommended: 1 – melons; 2 – gourds; 3 – spring cereals; 4 – gourds; 5 – alfalfa of the 1st year; 6 – alfalfa of the 2nd year. The share of melons is 50%.
For the placement of melons and gourds, the fields after the predecessors, on which herbicides were used, are unsuitable.
The use of mineral and organic fertilizers helps to increase the yield and quality of fruits (sugar and dry matter content), accelerate their ripening.
Under gourds, it is important to apply organic fertilizers on light soils.
For melons and gourds it is recommended to apply manure, compost or other local organic fertilizers in autumn for deep plowing. The optimal application rates for mineral fertilizers are N30-60P45-90K30-60.
Soil cultivation for gourds is similar to that used for spring crops of late sowing and includes plowing to a depth of 8-10 cm and plowing with plows with 23-30 cm skimmers. They respond well to deep tillage.
In the spring, harrowing and at least two cultivations are carried out, followed by harrowing. In the northern areas of melon growing on heavily compacted soils, the first cultivation is usually replaced by plowing.
When the upper soil layer dries up, rolling is carried out.
Pre-sowing seed treatment
For sowing, seeds obtained from ripened healthy fruits are used. Seed germination should be at least 90%. 6-8 days before sowing, air-thermal heating of seeds is carried out in the sun for 3-5 days or heated at a temperature of 50-60 °C for 4 hours . station, Ukrainian Research Institute of Vegetable and Melon Growing).
1-2 days before sowing, the seeds are soaked in water at room temperature for 24 hours.
Seeds are treated in advance with 80% TMTD at the rate of 5 g/kg of seeds or 65% fentnuram – 4 g/kg of seeds.
In practice, dried seeds 2-3 years old are usually used, since the plants from them develop better, and the yield is higher.
The optimal sowing time is determined by the heating of the soil at a depth of 10 cm to 12-16 °C. If the optimal timing of sowing seeds of melons and melons is not observed, that is, in insufficiently warmed soil, they will rot, giving sparse shoots and reducing yields.
Sowing is carried out by melon seeders of the type СБН-3 and СЗУ-2.4. With nested and dotted sowing methods, the СПЧ-6М seeder can be used. It is also possible to use corn or cotton planters.
The area of plant nutrition depends on the variety, climatic conditions, soil fertility.
The Donetsk vegetable and gourd experimental station proposed a tape-nesting method of sowing, which provides for sowing with a distance between tapes of 2.1 m or 1.4 m, between lines in the tape – 0.7 m, in a row (line) between nests – 0.7- 1.4 m. The method allows to ensure optimal sowing density, while the yield increases by 26-29%.
On light soils, the depth of planting seeds of melons and gourds is 5-6 cm, in dry spring conditions – 7-9 cm.
Care of crops of gourds and gourds consists in harrowing (before germination and after germination) and loosening with rotary hoes until germination appears to destroy the soil crust and destroy weed sprouts, as well as tillage between rows to a depth of 12-15 cm at the first and 8-10 cm – during subsequent loosening. In the 1-2 leaf phase, a breakthrough of seedlings or replanting of germinated seeds into empty nests can be carried out.
During inter-row cultivation, the overgrown lashes are removed to the side so as not to damage them by the wheels of the processing equipment, for which a lash stacker is installed in the unit with the cultivator, which shifts the lashes from the middle of the row spacing to a width of 50-60 cm.
For inter-row cultivation, cultivators KRN-4.2, KRN-5.6, as well as the melon cultivator KMB-5.4 are used, for weeding in rows – the weeding unit PAU-4.
To prevent entanglement of the lashes by the wind, they are sprinkled with moist soil, which also contributes to the formation of additional adventitious roots to improve plant nutrition.
Pinching (chasing) of the ends of the lashes is effective until the last developed leaves in the flowering phase of male flowers. The chasing of fodder watermelon contributes to an increase in yield by 6.7 t/ha (Voronezh Agricultural Institute).
In the fight against anthracnose, melon crops are treated with a 1% solution of Bordeaux mixture, the consumption of the working solution is 600 l/ha. Against powdery mildew – ground sulfur, at the rate of 15-20 kg / ha.
The ripening of melons and gourds occurs unevenly.
For selective harvesting of gourds, a wide-cut conveyor ТШП-25 is used. Ripe fruits are plucked and placed in the cells of the conveyor belt, which guides and stacks them in vehicles.
When transporting fruits, it is recommended to use the container method of transportation, which reduces the use of manual labor in loading and unloading operations, improves product quality and reduces transport delays.
Melons begin to be fed to animals from late autumn.
For use in winter for fodder purposes, gourds can be ensiled. To do this, a layer of cutting bean or corn straw (30-40 cm) is laid at the bottom of the trench, on top of it – pumpkins , watermelons or zucchini with a layer of 2-3 fruits. Then the layers of straw cutting and fruits alternate. When tamping with heavy equipment, the fruits knead well and moisten the straw. Silage is well eaten by all farm animals.
Irrigation is used to obtain high yields in the cultivation of gourds. Due to drought tolerance, watering is rarely carried out. The effectiveness of irrigated melon growing has been confirmed by many experimental institutions: Bykovskaya experimental station of melon growing (Volgograd region), Biryuchekutskaya vegetable breeding experimental station (Rostov region), Moldavian Research Institute of Irrigated Agriculture and Vegetable Growing, Crimean Agricultural Institute.
Table. The effect of irrigation on the yield of watermelons, on average for 3 years (Crimean Agricultural Institute)
|Without irrigation and fertilizer
|Moisture-charging irrigation + N40P60
|Moisture-charging irrigation + 1 vegetative irrigation
|Moisture-charging irrigation + N40P60 + 1 vegetative irrigation
|Moisture-charging irrigation + N40P60 + 2 vegetative irrigation
Carrying out only irrigation leads to a decrease in the sugar content of fruits by 1%, while joint irrigation with the application of fertilizers significantly increases it, compared with non-irrigated and unfertilized options.
In the European part of Russia, for melons and gourds, 3-5 vegetation irrigations are carried out with an interval of 10-15 days. They start long before flowering. In the flowering phase, they are temporarily stopped and resumed at the beginning of fruit set. Irrigation rate is 600-800 m3/ ha.
In Central Asia, autumn water-recharging irrigation is the most effective. They allow sowing without pre-planting irrigation and reduce the number of irrigations during the growing season. The first vegetative watering is carried out 20 days after germination, the next – at intervals of 10-15 days. Watering is stopped 15 days before the first harvest of fruits. The number of vegetation irrigations is from 5 to 11. The irrigation rate is 500-700 m3/ha.
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