✍Okra is a warm season mainly summer crop. Optimum temperature range is between 20° C to 28° C. Temperatures below 12° C or above 35° C can result in flower shed and big losses of yield. Continuous moist or rainy weather favors the rapid increase in leaf diseases and makes control difficult. Okra is prone to nematodes, hence, should not follow crops prone to nematode attack including tomatoes and butternuts. Preferably, okra can follow grassy crops like baby- or sweet corn that do not share common pest and diseases.
✍Okra grows well in deep, fertile, well-draining soils. Soil types can vary from sandy loam to clay loam with a clay content of between 15% to 35%. Okra does not do well in very light sandy soils or too heavy clays that with poor drainage and prone to hardpan formation. Deep ploughing or sub soiling must be done to ensure any old plough pan is broken up, so roots are free to go down deep. A PH of 5.8 – 6.5 is ideal. Okra will do very well after a green manure crop which has been ploughed in and well-rotted down or application of 25 000kg to 30 000kg of manure per hectare.
✍Depending on soil analysis results, the following is a general guide.
Add basal dressing of 750kg to 900kg per hectare of Compound “D”. Top dress with 200 kg of AN split into 4 applications at weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8. Okra responds very well to composite manure applied at a rate of 40 000 kg per ha.
✍Any method of irrigation is suitable for okra production, though irrigation which does not wet the foliage is the preferred method to reduce disease pressure. Furrow irrigation or flood irrigation is also good but uses high volumes of water. Sprinkler irrigation can dramatically increase the incidents of various diseases in medium rainfall or misty areas. Amount of irrigation needed depend on soil type and growing conditions like temperature and humidity. Normally around 500mm to 700mm is required. Lateral roots can spread up to one meter or more, so soil moisture needs to increase with plant growth. Increase irrigation as the plant and its root system start developing.
✍Direct sowing at a depth of 0.5cm to 1cm or seedlings can be used for establishing the crop. Germination occurs within 7 to 15 days depending on soil temperatures. Good, strong, healthy well rooted seedlings will give the best results. Plant seedlings into moist soil and firm the soil around the plug to achieve good soil to plug contact so that roots can develop quickly into the fertilizer enriched soil. Irrigate as soon as possible after transplanting to settle in the seedling.
✍Space between rows should be generally 70cm-80cm. In-row spacing should be 40cm – 50cm depending on variety. Plant population will be 25,000 – 35,000 plants per hectare.
✍Harvest pods when they are still tender once they reach the preferred market size, which is ideally 5 to 10 cm long before they become fibrous. Harvesting normally starts from 60 to 120 days after transplanting depending on the variety. Fresh tender and undamaged pods can be
picked using a knife 3 to 4 times a week depending on market size requirements. If you are targeting the fancy types, harvesting can be done on daily basis.
✍Any delayed picking will cause a direct loss of yield and quality. Harvested pods should be sent to the fresh market under shade or refrigerated as soon as possible to avoid wilting and market should be readily available to avoid loss of produce.
Yields can range from 5 to 15 tons per hectare.
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