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Seeing is believing in WorldVeg bitter gourd fields

Aerial view of bitter gourd demonstration trial.

The World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) cucurbit team proudly displayed 400 bitter gourd breeding lines plus another 400 bitter gourd F1 hybrids and early stage products of recurrent selection during Bitter Gourd Open Field Days from 14-30 August 2017 at the World Vegetable Center East and Southeast Asia Research and Training Station, located on the campus of Kasetsart University in Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand.

Narinder Dhillon (left) describes traits of WorldVeg improved bitter gourd lines to breeders from Bharat Nursery, Daftri Agrobiotech and Somani Seeds.

The successful event attracted 41 seed industry staff including breeders, product development managers, marketing and sales managers, R & D heads, and managing directors representing 21 seed companies from across Asia.

The WorldVeg Cucurbit team, led by breeder Narinder Dhillon, discussed the specific horticultural traits of WorldVeg’s unique lines and F1 hybrids with seed industry staff, explored methods to address the narrow genetic base of current commercial hybrids, and mapped out a way forward to create new market segments of bitter gourd to satisfy the needs of growers, distributors, retailers and consumers.

Bitter gourd is an important cucurbitaceous vegetable of immense medicinal value in Asia, where more than 400,000 hectares are devoted to its cultivation. In India alone, the bitter gourd seed market is 700 tons (hybrid seed = 250 tons and OP seed = 450 tons). WorldVeg has organized a bitter gourd support group for seed companies so that breeders can access the Center’s breeding research to develop new, genetically improved high quality bitter gourd cultivars with enhanced fruit yield and built-in resistance to diseases.  Breeders can invent new market segments by combining the dominant unique traits of lines from two heterotic groups into a F1 hybrid; seed industry breeders are now exploiting this approach, developed at WorldVeg, to produce superior F1 bitter gourd hybrids.

“Sound vision, utmost dedication, and superior breeding skills coupled with our field team’s high level of motivation has brought this marvelous breeding success,” Dhillon said. “The super management skills of my current Assistant Specialists Supornpun Srimat and Suwannee Laenoi (and previous Assistant Specialists Supannika Sanguansil and Supunsa Phethin) made it possible.”

The event attracted considerable attention across Asia — so much so that others are planning to follow the Bitter Gourd Open Field Days model in their own countries. Rukui Huang, Director, Vegetable Research Institute, Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Nanning, Guangxi, China flew to Thailand to visit Bitter Gourd Open Field Days along with four colleagues to better understand the event and replicate it at her institute in China in 2018.

A plant breeder from Ajeet Seeds evaluating fruit traits of WorldVeg’s improved bitter gourd lines.

Pretty in pink: The WorldVeg cucurbit team in Thailand!

Story: Narinder Dhillon

Photos: Sorawit Limsiriwat

Return to FRESH!

Rukui Huang (blue jacket) and colleagues from Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Nanning, observing the powdery mildew resistant bitter gourd lines.

A breeder from Bharat Nursery takes a photo for reference of lines from an early stage of recurrent selection.

What participants said about Bitter Gourd Open Field Days

For seed company breeders and marketing persons it offers an immersive experience, where participants can step into a field and see hybrid trials, breeding lines derived from landraces from various countries, powdery mildew resistance evaluation, recurrent selection program, etc. It was the perfect showcase of new WorldVeg hybrids and lines for bitter gourd lovers and breeders!

Kamal Kumar Yadav
Noble Seeds Pvt Ltd, India

To be very honest, I have never seen such vast diversity in an institute or university collection. From my perspective, this is the best platform an international organization can take to lead a public-private partnership/collaboration.

Chauhan KM
Kaveri Seeds Pvt Ltd, India

The demonstration of the field trials was impressive. The set-up captured diseases of various types that revealed interesting materials with resistances. The discussions with you (Narinder Dhillon) were very helpful to help us understand where we are at the moment and what needs to be explored. Your output will certainly stimulate bitter gourd breeders to further review/scrutinize their respective programs.

Venus Salutan
East-West Seeds, Philippines

There was an excellent range of hybrids representing the ASEAN market. We selected about 60 out of 405 hybrids from the preliminary evaluation in different segments for Indian markets. There is also scope to select products for overseas markets as well. The level of resistance/tolerance to fungal diseases was excellent, and we can use these as a source of resistance/tolerance in in-house breeding programmes.

Shashi Kataria
Kumar Bioseeds, India

We were really impressed with the overall demonstration program, especially the diverse germplasm lines and their use in the development of hybrids and inbred lines. I observed that most of the hybrids and advanced lines had good tolerance to foliar diseases. Fruit characters such as firmness, uniform color, shape and size for all segments were excellent. It was very interesting to select the hybrids and advanced breeding lines from this huge open field day program.

Surendra Deshmukh
Ajeet Seeds Pvt. Ltd.
Aurangabad, India

We could see clearly a diverse and very good set of elite bitter gourd breeding lines. Many entries showed a good level of field resistance to mildews and other foliar diseases. These lines provide opportunities for bitter gourd breeders of any organization to develop new and improved cultivars with desirable characteristics, which includes both yield related traits and disease resistance.

Manish Bhatnagar
Enza Zaden

It was indeed our pleasure to visit World Veg’s bitter gourd breeding programme. We have been visiting this programme from the very beginning and have seen it maturing. This programme has potential to address the current and future needs of the farming community in our region.

Parag Agarwal
VNR Seeds, India