The town of Floridablanca in Pampanga is often referred to as the ampalaya capital of Central Luzon because no less than 250 hectares are devoted to this crop year round. One of the big planters is 44-year-old barangay captain Ronnie Capulong who is planting the Mestiza hybrid, a high-yielding variety that is claimed to be resistant to the Namamarako disease.

Capulong is flanked by Eric Hojilla and Ric Reyes of East-West Seed. In front of them is a big pile of Ronnie’s harvest of Mestiza ampalaya.

Fruits of Mestiza ampalaya are 30 to 35 centimeters (cm) long with a diameter of 5-6 cm. The variety matures in 42 to 45 days from planting and can be productive for the next two months. Most of the fruits are first class and the color is light green, a characteristic that many consumers prefer because they believe that the light green fruits are less bitter than the dark green fruits.

This appeared without a byline in Agriculture Monthly’s January 2018 issue.