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                                                                   Long melon

Introduction:- The cucurbits form a distinct group of species with many similarities in botany, agronomy ecological   requirements and susceptibility to insect pests and diseases. Long melon is also one of them. Some of them are used in the form of salad, cooked as vegetables, and preserved in the form of sweets. It is grown mainly grown in tropical, sub tropical and milder zones of India. Long melon popularly known as kakri is valued for tender fruits which are eaten raw along with salt and pepper. Due to its cooling effect this is very popular during summer months in most part of the country. If it is taken without salt, it is not easily digested. Similarly, drinking of water immediately after eating fruits cause indigestion.


Scientific name-Cucumis melo var. utilissimus Duthic and fuller

Family –cucurbitaceae

Origin- India

Plant part used- unripe fruits


 Floral biology

Plants are monoecious in nature. Corolla is showy, yellow in colour. Petals are 5 in number, united, stamens are attached to calyx tubes. Ovary is inferior. The period of bud developmental stage is completed within 12-15 days in male and within 11-13 days in female bud.


Cucurbits are mainly warm season crops grown mainly in tropical and sub tropical regions. River bed cultivation, a kind of vegetables forcing is being used in India where cucurbits are grown in the river beds during winter season. Cucurbits grow well at day temperature between 25-350c.  It tolerates cool climate better than musk melon. It cannot tolerate frost and strong winds. Low temperature and high relative humidity stimulate the development of female flowers. It may show slight photoreaction to short days for flowering.

Soil requirement

Deep well drained soil with sandy or sandy loam texture is suitable. The pH of the soil should be between 5.8to 7.5. two to three ploughing and harrowing are made to bring the soil to a fine tilth. Dug up 3.5 long and 30 cm wide sowing channels. Keeps appropriate spacing between two sowing channels depending on the crop to be grown.

Improved verities

(1). Arka sheetal .-A selection from a collection IIHR-3 from Lucknow. Fruits medium long and green, weighing 100gm ay marketable stage. Fruits are non bitter, tender with crisp texture and delicate aroma. Duration of crop 90-100 days.

(2).- Karnal selection-A prolific bearer. Fruits tender, light green, long thin, flesh crisp with good flavor.

(3). Punjab long melon-1 :- Early fruit cylindrical long and light green

Seed rate

The seed rate of long melon is 2-2.5kg/hec.

 Sowing time

It is summer season crop. It is mainly grown in the month of February to March.

Sowing method and spacing

1.      Hills are made on the inner side of the the ridiges of the sowing channels, 8-10cm above the fertilizer.

2.      For better germination , the sowing channels shoud be irrigated two days before sowing .

3.      4-5 seeds are sown in a hills. Then the hills are covered with soi and irrigate.


Spacing b/w channels- 200-250cm.

 Spacing b/w hills-         60-90cm.

Nutrient management

Apply 200-300 quintals /hec. Of well rotten farm yard manure or compost at the time of field preparation. Besides 40 kg nitrogen, 60 kg phosphorus and 40 kg potassium per hectare should applied at the time of sowing. Nitrogen at the rate of 20 kg per hectare should also be top dressed when plant starts bearing.


Irrigate the crop once in 4-5 days during summer depending upon the soil and weather condition. In rainy season irrigation depends upon the rains.

Interculture practices and weed control

(1)   Thinning of plants should be done 10-15 days after sowing retaining only 2 healthy seedlings in each hills.

(2)   Two shallow hoeing should be done before spreading of vines to control weeds.

(3)   Apply Fluchloralin or Trifluralin (0.75-1.5kg/hec.) as pre plant soi incorporation at two weeks before sowing.

(4)   The crop should be top dressed with nitrogen (25kg/hec) at 30-35 days after sowing.

 Plant protection practices

A. Fungal diseases

1. Powdery mildew


Powdery mildew is a fungal disease caused by Erysiphae cichoracearum and E fuliginea.The powdery mildew on the foliage and green stems is characterized by the appearance of tiny. white to dirty grey spots (sometimes with a reddish brown tinge). They become powdery as they enlarge. The effect of severe infestation may be premature death of the vines. Fruits also get covered with the white powdery mass but this is not common. The fruits remain undersized and sometimes are deformed


1. Blue copper/Blitox (0.4%) or Dithane M-45 (0.2%) bas also been recommended to spray at 8 days interval. About 3-4 sprays will be enough.

2. Sulfex (0.2%) can also be sprayed at an interval of 5-6 days. About 2-3 sprayings will be required. Spray of sulfex is economically cheaper than other chemicals such as calixin and Bavistin.

3. The cucurbitaceous weeds should not be allowed to grow near cultivated field of these vegetables.

 2. Downy mildew

Downy mildew is a fungal disease and is caused by Pseudopernospora cubensis. The disease is fairly common in northern India, where it becomes serious during latter part of the rainy season.

The first symptom on the leaves resemble those of mosaic mottling. The pale green areas are separated by islands of darker green. Soon the spots become well-defined. They are angular, yellow coloured and often restricted by the veins on the upper surface. On the lower sides of these spots a purplish downy growth appears in moist weather.


1. Badly affected vines or leaves should be removed from the field.

2. Wild cucurbits from vegetable growing areas should be destroyed as they serve as secondary host.

3. Spraying of fungicides can control the disease. Dithane M- 45 (Maneb), Dithane Z-78 (Zineb) and Tricop -50 are some of the fungicides recommended for spraying.

4. Spray thrice Blue copper blitox (0.4%) at 8 days interval.

5. Resistant cultivars should be preferred for growing.


3. Anthracnose

This is a fungal disease and is caused by colletorichum lagenarium. All aerial parts of the plant are affected. The spots on the foliage begin as small yellowish or water soaked areas that enlarge rapidly and turn brown in most cucurbits but black on the watermelon. The disease causing fungus is chiefly soil-borne but it may also be seed borne if fruits are attacked and the fungal mycelium reaches the seed. The fungus occurs in epidemic form only when there is more than average rainfall. Disease development can occur at a temperature of 20 to 30" C and 100% relative humidity for at least 18 hours.


1. Crop rotation, proper field drainage, destruction of wild hosts etc. are some cultural steps to control this disease.

2. The seeds should be treated with any organo-mercurial compounds such as Agrosan G.N. or Thiram @ 2.5 g per kg of seed.

3. The disease can be controlled by the repeated spraying at 5 -7 days interval with Dithane M -45 (Maneb) 0.2% or Ditbane Z-78 (Zineb) 0.2 per cent.

4. Spray Difoltan (0.2%) or Toprin (0.1%) or Captan (0.2%) at 10 days interval.

5. Seed treatment before sowing can also be done with systemic fungicides like Bavistin (0.1%) and Benlate (0.1 per cent).

 4. Fusarium wilt

The fungus is seed-born as well as a persistent soil inhabitant. Seedling injury is high at 20 –30o C temperature. Wilt development is also favoured by a temperature of about 27o centigrade. No infection occurs at temperature below 150 C and above 35o centigradeThe plant is attacked in all the stages of its growth. Germinating seeds may rot in the soil. When very young seedlings are invaded, they may damp-off or die or be stunted in growth. The cotyledons wilt. Small leaves loose their green colour, droop and wilt.


1. Due to the long persistence of the fungus in the soil, a rotation of 10 years will be required to control the disease.

2. Seed borne inoculum can be reduced by treating the seed with Benlate or Bavistin (2.5 g/kg seed).

 3. Growing resistant varieties is the best method to control

this disease.

4. The disease can be checked to some extent by drenching the soil with Captan or Hexocap (0.2 to 0.3% solution). This should be repeated twice or thrice.

5. Bavistin (0.1%) or JK stein (0.1%) or Dithane M-45 (0.2%) or Blitox (0.5%) can also afford partial control.

B. Bacterial diseases

 1. Bacterial leaf spots


This is a bacterial disease caused by Xanthomonas compestris var. cucurbitaeThe disease mainly appears on the leaves. Sometimes young stems and petioles are also attacked. The leaf spots appear as water soaked areas on the under surface. The lower surface opposite these areas looks yellow. These spots are inter-veinal. With increase in age, the spots emerge and become angular. The colour changes to brown


1. This is a seed-borne disease, to kill the bacterium in the seeds, hot water treatment (50oC for 30 minutes) is recommended. But this treatment reduces the germination percentage of the seed.

2. Mercuric chloride solution (1: 1000) for 5 to 10 minutes is a good seed dip method.

3. It is better to obtain seed grown in dry areas.

4. Spraying copper fungicides reduces the spread of the disease in the field.

 2. Angular leaf spots

This is also a bacterial disease caused by Pseudomonasi syringae var. lachrymansSymptoms.The disease occurs on leaves, young green stems, and also on fruits. The spots on the leaves appear as water -soaked, irregular or angular lesions. In wet weather bacteria ooze in the form of droplets appears on the water soaked areas. It dries to form white crusts. The spots enlarge and become brown


1. This is a seed-borne disease, to kill the bacterium in the seeds, hot water treatment (50oC for 30 minutes) is recommended. But this treatment reduces the germination percentage of the seed.

2. Mercuric chloride solution (1: 1000) for 5 to 10 minutes is a good seed dip method.

3. It is better to obtain seed grown in dry areas.

4. Spraying copper fungicides reduces the spread of the disease in the field.

 C. Viral diseases

When the plant is attacked soon after emergence, the cotyledons are yellow and seedlings show symptoms of wilt. In older plants symptoms appear first on younger leaves. These are alternate green and yellow patches on the leaf. These spots are of irregular shape and enlarge rapidly, ultimately covering the entire leaf. The diseased leaves are mottled, deformed, small and sometimes curled downward. The veins and vein-lets also turn yellow. Sometimes, there are shallow depressions on the leaves. Internodes of stems are shortened, thus dwarfing the plant. Young fruits are rough, mottled and deformed.


In absence of resistant varieties following measures can reduce the severity of the cucurbit mosaic viruses.

1. Only virus free seeds should be used for sowing.

2. All the infected plants should be eradicated from the field.

3. The field should be kept free from the hosts including weeds.

4. Spray insecticides such as Thiodan (0.1 %) or Metasystox (0.1%) or Dimecron (0.05%) or Dimethoate (0.05%) at 10 days interval to control vector population.

5. Krishi oil (2%) has also been found effective in minimizing the disease spread.

D. Mycoplasma diseases

1. Cucurblt phyllody


The disease is characterized by shortening of internodes and phyllody of normal flowers. Some plants bear cluster of phyllody flowers. Infected plants remain stunted and usually do not bear fruits. The disease infects almost all cucurbit vegetables.


1. All the disease plants must be rouged out from the field.

2. Apply furadan 1.5 kg ai. /ha at the time of sowing the seed.

3. Spray systemic insecticides like Dimecron (0.05%) at 10 days interval.


1. Red pumpkin beetles

The commencement of their activity after winter generally corresponds with the early growing season of the spring crop of the cucurbit vegetables. The damage continues to be caused even in the later stages of the crop, but it is not so much serious as in the case of seedlings. The larval stage of the pest also does considerable damage as it bores into the roots, stems and even the fruits on which the attack starts from the portion resting on the ground. The attacked plants wither and die and the affected fruits become unmarketable. .


1. Plough the field after harvest to destroy the pupae and larvae of the pest.

2. Early sowing of cucurbit plants i.e. in November protect the crop from appearing the hibernation as the plants are well established by that time.

3. Dusting the crop with kerosinized ash will repel the beetles. This method is more suitable for kitchen garden crops.

4. The vines may be dusted with Malathion 5% dust @ 15 -20 kg/ha or Carbaryl 4% dust @ 15 -20 kg/ha.

5. Spray Malathion (Cythion 50 EC at 2 m1/litre of water or Carbaryl (Sevin 50 W.P. at 2 g/litre of water). The spray should be done at weekly interval.

2. Fruit flies (Dacus cucurbitae)

The damage is caused by the maggots of the fly. Generally fruits are attacked in the early immature soft stage, and they do not develop properly. They may rot and drop down prematurely if the infestation is severe. Those fruits which do not drop and are picked, and are unfit for consumption, as they have a number of abominable maggots in the pulp. Due to attack of this pest, the fruits may also be deformed. The humid hot weather is most suitable for its attack and generally 50 -60% loss is caused to the vegetable crop.


I. Destroy the damaged fruits along with maggots.

2. Bagging of fruit protect them from egg laying by the fly.

3. Dusting the vine with tobacco dust or ash mixed with kerosene oil repels the flies.

4. The adult flies may also be controlled by spraying solution made up of tartaric acid 1 part, water 320 parts, and molasses 24 parts.

5. Spraying Carbaryl (Sevin 50% W.P. at 4 g/litre) or Malathion (Cythion 50% EC at 2 mI/litre), 2 -3 times at 10 days interval is also very affective against these flies. The spray should begin right from the time of flowering.

 3. Aphids

There are small green insects. They damage the plant by sucking the leaf sap. In young stage, cotyledonary leaves crinkle and in severe cases the plants wither. In grown up vines. the affected leaves turn yellow and plant loses its vigour and yield.


The aphids can be easily controlled by spraying Malathion 0.1 % or Metasystox 0.1 to 0.2% or Rogar 0.1 to 0.2 per cent. Usually spray against aphids and beetles can be combined. Spray against aphids has to be done early before the attack becomes severe, since aphid transmitted virus spread rapidly.

4. Jassids

Jassids are small sucking insects (0.32 cm long). They are green to greenish-yellow in colour. They suck the sap of the leaves. The plant loses its vigour and the leaves give shriveled appearance.


Jassids can be controlled by spraying  0.1 % Malathion.

5. Root knot nematode

The cucurbits are highly susceptible to nematode infestation especially root knot nematode Meliodygne incognita acrita. Poor growth and stunted plants are the usual symptoms, Muskmelon, cucumber, pumpkin are severely affected. The growth of pumpkin plants infected with root knot nematodes is reduced with galls found scattered on roots. There is marked reduction in root and shoot growth and fruit yield.


1. Pre-plant application of Carbof'uran (Furadan 3 G @ 10 kg per hectare) on planting holes controls the root -knot nematode and increases the yield.

2. Soil fumigation with D. D. (dichloropropene dichloropropane) and adopting long duration crop rotation can also control the nematodes.


The fruits are picked when they are still tender-about one-third or one-fourth their full size. The fruits do not keep well for more than one day, so they should be disposed of promptly. For pickling, fruits are harvested when full size but still immature. The seed cavity is removed and only the rind used in making of pickles. The fruits are used as summer squash in various ethnic dishes.


The yield of long melon is about 350-400quintal/hec.

Seed production technology

Field standards

Isolating the seed crop to avoid genetic contamination
The quality seed must be genetically and physically pure. Genetic purity can be maintained by preventing cross pollination with other undesirable varieties. This is achieved by isolating the seed crop.
Isolation is the act of growing the seed crop away from a contaminant such that cross pollinated crop because flowering is monoeciuos in nature.


Minimum distance(meters)





Specific requirements.



Maximum permitted (%)



Off type

Objectionable weed plants

Plants affected by seed borne diseases

Plants affected by virus disease










(1). Before flowering.- This is done for rouging of plants showing different growth habit, stem and leaf characters(shape, size and colour) and diseased plants. Rouge out all virus affected plants.

(2). Flowering and immature fruit stage. Rouge out all those pants which are non identical in flowering and fruit characters and virus infected plants.

(3).Mature fruit stage. Rouge out all the plants which are diffent in fruit characters at maturity. Rouge out all diseased and virus affected plants.


Seed selection      
Selecting ripe and vigorous seed is the first step in production of robust seedling which will ultimately lead to producing quality seed. Planting robust seedling will impart disease and pest resistance and help in proper uptake of precious fertilizer applied to the main field. Proper care must be taken to avoid the usage of aged seeds those are stored for more than a year.           
Selection of seeds is the first step in production of quality seed. This involves selection of seeds with the right genetic make-up of the variety chosen to be produced. Seeds must be from an approved source. This is possible if the seed is got from the breeding firm / university research station or from the breeder himself. Verify if the seed brought for sowing has breeder seed tag (for producing foundations seed); foundation seed tag (for production of certified seed). Further, the seeds must be free from pest and diseases, rotten, dull coloured, black spotted seeds must be removed. Seeds of uniform size and shape alone must be used for sowing.

        Seed required for an acre (400 g / acre) may be treated with fungicides before sowing. Then five seeds may be sown in a pit at equal distance.


Harvest has to be done when the fruit stalk becomes brown and dried, and as the fruits have the complete ashy coating. At the stage the seeds attain full maturity will higher vigour and viability.      
The harvests will be done in the different pickings in long melon. Here the first and last one or two harvests may be taken for vegetable. The harvest should be done from other harvests for seed extraction. Fruits confirming the genetic purity with medium to large size fruits should alone be used for seed extraction. This selection and grading procedures will increase the yield of quality seed recovery          
For seed purpose generally harvest will be done 7-10 days after the maturity of vegetables. Since, at that stage the seeds will attain its maturity. At that stage, fruit stalk become dry and there will be a complete ashy coating on the fruits.

Processing to improve seed quality         
After the fruit harvest and before the seed extraction, only healthy fruits of true to type and free from pest / disease infestation are to be selected for seed extraction.

Seed separation by cutting the fruits         
The selected fruits confirming the genetic characters alone should be used for seed extraction, and also fruits weighing less than 1.5 kg should be rejected and can be sold out in the market as vegetable. Seed extraction is easy in long melon. First cut the fruits into two halves by crosswise and length wise. Then remove the seed along with pulp and crash with hand in excess quantity of water. Remove the floating fraction and collect the seeds settle at the bottom.


After cutting the fruit the seed should be properly washed with the clean water. After that we dry the seed.

Seed drying         
After seed extraction, it has to be properly dried, since seeds were extracted from 100% moist condition. The extracted seeds should spread on gunny bags in a thin layer and dried under shade for 8 to 10 hours for one or two days. Then, seeds can be dried under direct sunlight between 8 to 12 noon and 3 to 5 pm. Avoid drying in between 12 noon to 3 pm, since the rays emitted from sun and the heat may affect the seed viability. While drying care must be taken to avoid clogging.

The extracted seed should not be dried directly under sun. Since seed posses high moisture it may affect the germination potential. Similar, while drying frequent stirring is more important otherwise it leads to clogging. This may results in improper drying, fungal growth and poor vigour.

 Storage and packing

Apart from seed and seed treatment, the next most important aspect of seed storage is seed container. Container can be chiefly differentiated as moisture pervious and moisture impervious types. Cloth, paper, gunny bags are moisture pervious as the moisture from outside atmosphere can enter and exit freely. Hence, even if the seed is dried to safe moisture, but stored in a humid climate, then seed gains moisture during storage and looses vigour. So, to safely store seeds in moisture previous bag, then the outside humidity must be low.         
In Tamil Nadu, most of the months are hot and humid, hence after drying the seed to safe moisture limit, seeds can be safely stored in moisture impervious bag like thick polythene bag of 700 g or in tin/plastic containers that are sealed tightly. In case of short term storage (4-6 months) cloth or gunny will be sufficient.

 Seed standards


Standards for each class (%)



Pure seed (minimum)

Inert matter(maximum)

Other crop seed(maximum

Weed seed(maximum)

Objectionable weed seed(maximum)

Other distinguishable varieties (maximum)























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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.