Okra or Lady's Finger, which is botanically known as Hibiscus esculentus L. or Abelmochus esculentus L. Moench, is also known as saluyot a bunga (Ilocano) and kaluyot (Ifugao). It is a popular and common vegetable in the market. It is also an indispensable component of a Filipino dish called pinakbet.
It is widely grown all over the country throughout the year because of its resistance to either drought or waterlogging. It is mainly grown for its young immature fruits which are consumed raw, or cooked (fried,broiled,boiled, or blanched). It is common ingredient in soup and sauces. The fruit can be dried or picked. The leaves are sometimes use as spinach and the seeds as a substitute for coffee. (Source: Bureau of Agricultural Research, Date accessed 25 March 2014)
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Choose an elevated area with adequate source of water during dry season. Okra thrives well in sandy loam, loam or clay soil with pH of 5.8-8.0
- Broadcast organic fertilizer or compost before plowing the area.
- For sandy loam soil, plow and harrow once.
- For clay loam soil, plow and harrow once if the soil is moist.
- However if the soil is cloddy, harrow 2-3 times to attain good soil tilth. Set furrows at 75 cm apart for wet season and 100 cm for dry season planting.
System of Planting
- If the furrowed soil is moist, take advantage of the moisture content of the soil.
- Drill 2-3 seeds per hill in the furrows at a distance of 30 cm and cover the seeds with 3.0 cm depth of soil.
- Then press lightly to prevent excessive loss of moisture. This system of planting, which is usually practiced by farmers favors deeper root penetration of seedlings and avoids the early emergence of weeds.
- The common practice is planting the seeds before irrigating the field, causing weed seeds to germinate faster than the okra seeds, resulting in more labor input in weeding. A 1000m2 area requires 1 kg of seeds.
- During rainy season, plant the seeds on raised beds or at the ridge of furrows to prevent the plants from water logging in case of flush floods.
For vigorous growth of okra and to prolong the productive period, follow the fertilizer management in Table 2. Apply foliar fertilizer late in the afternoon or early in the morning after the dew on the plants have evaporated to avoid burning effect on the leaves and stems.
Table 2. Fertilizer Requirement for Okra Production
|Organic fertilizer/compost||100 kg||before plowing||basal|
|14-14-14||20 kg||at planting||basal/broadcast|
|14-14-14||20 kg||at 42 DAE||sidedress|
|Urea||10 kg||at 28 DAE||sidedress|
|Foliar fertilizer||Follow manufacturer's recommendation||70,84,98 & 112 DAE||Spray on foliage|
If the crop is planted in moist soil and was not irrigated after planting, irrigate the area at 14-21 DAE just after hilling-up. At such stage, the water will easily subside in the soil and the roots will be forced to pursue the water, favoring longer and deeper root penetration.
In light textured soils, irrigate or water at weekly interval. During dry season, irrigate 10-5 times for the entire period of production.
Okra is tolerant to most insect pests specifically during wet season because of the profuse growth of foliage, but diseases are common because of the wet–warm condition of the environment. However, during summer or second crop, leafhopper is the most damaging pest with occasional diseases. These can be managed using the suggested biological and remedial control measures presented in Table 3. If there are pest and disease outbreaks, refer to the suggested chemical control in Table 4.
Insect Pests and Diseases
- Cotton stainer and leafhopper are the major insect pests.
- Do not remove all weeds. These weeds serve as alternate host to friendly insects.
- Plant strong scented crops such as marigold, lemon grass, and kutsai to repel insect pests.
- Use insecticides only as last defense.
- Prune and burn leaves infected with diseases like Cercospora leafmold to prevent or minimize their spread.
- Prune basal leaves and lateral branches.
- Spray with compost tea
- Plant in nematode-free areas.
- Harvest young pods that are tender, snappy and about 10-12cm long.
- Pick the pods early in the morning.
- Sort and grade pods according to size.
- Market the pods immediately.
Polination and Isolation
- Okra is predominantly a self-pollinated crop but cross-pollination occurs from 4% to 45% depending on variety.
- Bes and flies pollinate okra but not wind.
- Maintain an isolation distance of 200m for certified seed and 400m for breeder seed.
Crop Inspection and Roguing
- Inspect the crop regularly throughout the growing period.
- Three inspections are recommended for certified seeds:
- One month after emergence, check for leaf size, shape and color, general habit and vigor.
- At flowering and podding stages, check for shape and color of flowers, fruit size, shape and color and number of ridges in pods.
- At first maturity, check for fruit size, shape and color, late maturity and unproductive plants.
- Seeds mature 120-150 days after planting or depending on variety.
- Harvest 2-3 times since the basal and apical pods do not mature all at the same time.
- Pods turn leathery brown in color at maturity.
- Put harvested pods in canvas matting and sun dry for 2-3 days until pods become brittle.
- Thresh pods to extract the seeds and clean by winnowing or using air-screen cleaner.
- Sort out or remove blackened seeds, seeds with molds, and small unfilled seeds.
- Dry clean seeds gradually under the sun for 4-5 days to lower the moisture content.
- For home use, pack the seeds in a thick plastic or paper envelopes and place them in large aluminum cans or large-mouth jars lined at the bottom with charcoal, lime or silica gel.
- Seal the package well.
- Place the seeds in a cool, dry place.
- For large volume, pack the seeds in thick plastic or aluminum foil and seal well.
- Keep the seeds in a cool and dry place or storage area. The drier are the stored seeds and the cooler is the storage area, the longer is the life of the seeds.
Source: Bureau of Agricultural Research, Date accessed 25 March 2014