Okra cultivation

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Okra is a tender heat-loving vegetable that grows 4 – 7 feet tall. The plant produces green and sometimes red seed pod which is harvested when 3 to 5 inches long and sometimes longer. The plant is easy to cultivate as you will learn from this okra cultivation guide. Although, like every other farming process, okra cultivation requires a lot of commitment, dedication, and of course good information to be successful.

Okra is an economically important vegetable crop of many countries in Africa, including Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Egpyt and many others. It has the nickname “lady’s finger” and it is sometimes called “gumbo” in most other places. Farmers growing okra for profit do so to meet both domestic and foreign market demands.

The major growing states in India are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. Okra is mainly grown for its green tender nutritive fruits. Dry fruits and skin are useful in paper industry and fibre extraction. Okra is rich source of vitamins, protein, calcium and other minerals.

Scientific name: Abelmoschus esculentu

Family: Malvaceae.

Origin: Ethiopia, it is mainly grown  in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Climate

Okra is a hot weather crop. The optimum soil temperature for growth is 24 to 32 °C, while the minimum soil temperature is 18 °C. Damping off and seed decay are likely at soil temperatures below 21 °C. Planting dates may vary with favourable soil temperature; however, planting time is generally 10 to 15 April, 15 to 21 April and 5 May. Planting can be made every 4 to 6 weeks to maintain a continuous supply of fresh produce.

SOIL

Okra can be cultivated in wide range of soil. The ideal soil for okra cultivation is sandy loam to clay loam with rich organic matter and better drainage facility. If proper drainage is available it can grow well in heavy soils. The pH of soil should be 6.0 to 6.5. Do not cultivate crop in alkaline, saline soils also in poor drainage capacity soils.

Varieties

Green / light green fruited: Pusa Sawani, Pusa Makhmali, IARI Selection 2, Kiran, Salkeerthi

Red fruited: Co-1, Aruna

Yellow vein mosaic resistant/tolerant: Arka Anamika, Arka Abhay, Susthira (all green fruited)

Sowing Time

The three main planting seasons for Okra are February-March, June-July and October-November.

Seed rate

The seed rate is 8.5 kg/ha for the summer crop sown in February-March and 7 kg/ha for kharif crop.

Storage of seeds

Packing of okra seeds in polythene cover (700 gauge) increases the storage life up to 7 months.

Planting

For kharif crop, sow the seeds at a spacing of 60 cm between rows and 45 cm between plants. For the summer crop, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing and give a spacing of 60 x 30 cm.

irrigation management

Give pre-sowing irrigation, if soil is not moist enough. During summer, irrigate at intervals of 2 to 3 days.

Nutrient management

Apply FYM or compost as basal dose @ 12 t/ha. At the time of sowing, apply N, P2O5, and K2O @ 25, 8 and 25 kg/ha. Another 25 kg N per ha may be applied one month after sowing.

Note: For reclaimed soils of Kuttanad, a fertilizer dose of N:P2O5:K2O 75:5:15 kg/ha is recommended.

Weed management

Conduct weeding regularly and earth up rows during rainy season.

Pest management

  • The important pests are jassids, fruit and shoot borer and root knot nematode.
  • Against jassids, use quinalphos, fenthion or fenitrothion as foliar sprays each at 0.05%. For controlling fruit and shoot borers, remove all drooping shoots and damaged fruits. Spray carbaryl 0.15% at intervals of 15 to 20 days. For controlling aphids, apply dimethoate 0.05%.
  • For the control of nematodes, apply sawdust or paddy husk at 500 g/plant or neem leaves or Eupatorium leaves at 250 g/plant in basins one week prior to planting and water daily. The effect of this treatment persists up to 75 days after sowing in summer season
  • Application of Bacillus macerans or B. circulans (1.2 x 106 cells per pit) before sowing is recommended for the control of root knot nematode (ad hoc recommendation).
  • For the control of pests, application of carbofuran granules at the rate of 0.5 kg ai / ha or phorate at the rate of 1 kg ai / ha at seeding followed by need-based application of foliar insecticides has been recommended. The application of granules is recommended only at the time of seeding.
  • In general, insecticides of plant origin may be used, as far as possible.

Disease management

Yellow vein mosaic

This is a common disease in okra, which shows vein clearing and vein chlorosis of leaves. The yellow network of veins is very conspicuous and veins and veinlets are thickened. Fruits become small and yellowish green in colour. White fly (Bemisia tabaci) and leaf hopper (Amrasca biguttula biguttula) are vectors of this virus. Hence, their control is very important. Use of resistant varieties like Arka Anamika, Arka Abhay and Susthira, and destruction of host weeds (Croton sparsiflora and Ageratum sp.) are also effective.

Harvesting

The crop comes to harvest 45 days after sowing. Since the pods get matured very quickly, the selection of pods with maximum size but still tender is the point to be considered. A total number of 15-18 harvests can be made

Average yield

10-15 tonnes/ha.


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