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Okra Crop Production

Okra is an important vegetable crop valued for its immature tender and green fruits in India. The fruits are eaten mainly boiled in culinary preparations, as sliced and fried pieces. It is also slice dried in sun for its year-round consumption. Okra fruits are rich in calcium (90mg/100g fresh weight) and provide valuable supplementary items in the tropical diet, which is basically starchy in nature lacking calcium and iron. Tender, green fruits are cooked in curry in curry and soup. The root and stem are used for clearing cane juice in preparation of ‘gur’. High iodine content fruits helps control goiter while leaves are used in inflammation and dysentery. The fruits also help in cases of renal colic, leucorrhoea and general weakness.  The dry seed contains 13-22% good edible oil and 20-24% protein. The oil is used in soap, cosmetic industry and as vanaspati while protein is used for fortified feed preparations. The crushed seed is fed to cattle for more milk production and the fibre is utilized in jute, textile and paper industry 

Climate: Okra requires a long, warm and humid growing period. It can be successfully grown in hot humid areas. It is sensitive to frost and extremely low temperature. For normal growth and development a temperature between 24° C and 28° C is preferred. At 24° C the first flower bud may appear in the third leaf axil while 28° C it may appear in sixth leaf axil. For faster plant growth still higher temperature helps though it delays the fruiting, But at higher temperature beyond 40° – 42° C, flowers may desiccate and drop, causing yield losses. For seed germination optimum soil moisture and a temperature between 25° C and 35° C is needed with fastest germination observed at 35° C. Beyond this range the germination will be delayed.

Soil type : It is grown on sandy to clay soils but due to its well-developed tap root system, relatively light, well –drained, rich soils are ideal. As such, loose, friable well-manured loam soils are desirable. A pH of 6.0-6.8 is ideally suited. All soils need to be pulverized, moistened and enriched with organic matter before sowing.

  1. Land preparation: Bring the soil to a fine tilth after 2-3 ploughing and harrowing. Level the land with a leveler. Incorporate well rotten FYM @ 25 tonnes per hectare (10 tonnes/acre) to improve the soil texture and aeration. Prepare ridges and furrows spaced 60 cm apart during Kharif and 45 cm apart during summer season. 
  2. Manures and Fertilisers:  Organic manures - 25 t FYM. Nitrogen - 100kg (500 kg Ammonium Sulphate). Phosphoric acid - 50 kg (312 kg Super phosphate). Potash 50 kg (83 kg Muriate).
  3. Application:  Before sowing incorporate 25t of FYM per hectare. Open up a deep narrow furrow on one side of each sowing ridge. Apply the fertilizer mixture containing 50 percent nitrogen, full dose of phosphorous and potash, in these furrows cover the fertilizers with soil and irrigate
  4. Sowing time : Southern plains: (i) June-July (ii) September-October (iii) February-March. Northern and Western plains: (i) July-August. (ii) February-March. Eastern plains: (i) May-June. (ii) February-March. Hilly Areas: April- June. 
  5. Spacing - A planting distance of 60 cm x 30 cm, accommodating 55,000 plants /ha is recommended for branching and robust types, while 45 cm x 30 cm accommodating 75,000 plants /ha is for non-branching types. During spring –summer season with less plant growth these spacing are kept at 45 cm x 30 cm or even less. For harvesting smaller fruits for fresh fruit export a group of 2-3 rows at 20 cm distance keeping 60cm between these groups of rows could be planted allowing 20-30 cm between plants within the rows. This eases harvesting and checks branching.
  6. Seed rate: 8-10 kg/hectare. Higher seed rate could be used, if the crop is to start early in spring summer as it augmented germination loss due to temperature. Higher seed rate and lower spacing could also be opted for summer crop to lower the field temperature and keep fruiting going on under frequent light irrigation.
  7. Sowing of seeds:  Okra gives little success on transplanting and thus seed is sown directly in the soil by seed drill, hand dibbling or behind the plough. Broadcasting is not recommended as it increases seed rate as well as causes great proper inconvenience in cultural operations and harvesting. Sowing on ridges ensures proper germination, reduces water requirement during spring-summer and helps in drainage during rainy season. Soaking seeds in 0.2%. Bavistin solution overnight helps activate germination and product protects seedlings from wilt. Soil treatment with Furadon @ 2 kg ai /ha (20-22 kg product) helps protect plants from root –knot nematodes and other pests during initial 4-5 weeks. Sufficient soil moisture and temperature around 300 C help in quick and uniform germination. Sowing in moist soil is preferred over irrigation after sowing.
  8. Irrigation:  Irrigate the furrow lightly soon after the seed sowing to ensure good germination. Irrigate subsequently at an interval of 3-4 days depending upon the soil and weather conditions. If temperature goes around 40° C frequent light irrigations are recommended to help proper fruiting. Thus soil should be kept moist and flooding or wilting of plant should be avoided. Drip irrigation saves around 85% water requirement though it is not at commercial in okra. Furrow system is better than flood system. Moisture stress during flowering and fruit /seed setting causes around 70% crop losses.
  9. Thinning of plants:  Thin out the closely germinated plants at one true leaf stage.
  10. Weed control:  Proper weed management in okra could save up to 90% crop losses due to weeds. A total of 3-4 weedings starting from 20 days after sowing are required till the crop covers the soil surface.
  11. Top dressing:  Apply the remaining 50% nitrogen at the base of each channel 30 days after sowing followed by earthing up operation.
  12. Harvesting and Post harvest management:  The crop is ready for first picking 50-55 after sowing. Harvesting the tender fruits in 2-3 days interval depending upon the season. The fruit picking may continue upto 70-75 days after flowering. Early harvesting gives lower yields of tender fruits with shorter shelf-life. In general harvesting on every alternate day is advisable. A cheap hand glove or cloth bag should be used to protect fingers. Harvesting in the morning is convenient for distant markets, harvesting late during evening and transporting during night is also advised. The fruit are graded. For processing industry and fresh fruit export 6-8 cm long fruit are sorted out. Longer fruits are used for fresh market. For local market, fruits are cooled (preferably) and filled in jute bags or baskets, covered or sewed and then water sprinkled over it. This helps in cooling as well as in turgidity of fruits, which tightens the pack and saves product from bruises, blemishes and blackening. In air-tight containers the fruits may turn pale during transit due to heat generated by them. For export, suitable size perforated paper cartons are taken, precooled fruits are packed and transported in refrigerated vans. Export market requires tender, dark green, straight, short (6-8cm) fruits.
  13. Fertigation:  Schedule fertigation once in 3 days starting from 21 days and ending at 102 days after transplanting for a 4 month duration crop, thus requiring 28 fertigations.
  14. Water soluble Fertilizers per fertigation (Once in 3 days) :  0-20 days: No fertigation . 21-36 days: 2.0 kg 19-19-19/fertigation (6 fertigations). 39-57 days: 3.0 kg 19-19-19/ +1.0 kg KNO3+1.0 kg urea/fertigations (7 fertigations). 60-102 days: 5kg 19-19-19/ +1.0 kg KNO3+1.5 kg urea/fertigation (15 fertigations). (108 kg 19-all+22 kg KNO3 + 30 kg urea.
  15. Yield :  5 - 20 t/ha

Precision Farming

Okra Cultivation

Method Description
VarietyArka Anamika, popular commercial hybrids
Soil typeWell drained fertile soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
Season & Seed requirementSowing in June-July, Jan-Feb, seed requirement 2.5 kg
Land preparationRaised bed method: 10-15cm height, 75cm width, convenient length, 45cm inter-bed spacing.
FYM applicationApply 10 tonnes of enriched FYM.
Neem cake applicationApply neem cake @ 250kg.
Fertilizer Dose50:30:40 kg N:P:K
Basal fertilizer applicationApply 13-10-10 kg N:P:K (60 kg Ammonium sulphate + 60 kg Single super phosphate + 17 kg Muriate of potash. Mix well and level the beds properly
Laying of drip linePlace one in-line drip lateral at the center of the bed for which 3330 meter length of lateral pipe is required
Polyethylene mulching3330 meter length of mulch film of 1.2m width and 30 micron thickness (110 kg)
Spacing and plant population Double crop row is maintained per bed of 75cm width. Spacing between the row is 45cm. Make holes of 5cm diameter (7.5cm diameter in hot sunny day) at a distance of 22.5cm along the crop row. 30000 seeds can be accommodated in one acre
IrrigationRun the drip irrigation daily for a duration of 20 to 40 minutes depending on the crop stage, season and emitter discharge
FertigationSchedule fertigation once in 3 days starting from 21 days and ending at 102 days after transplanting for a 4 month duration crop, thus requiring 28 fertigations
Water soluble Fertilizers per fertigation (Once in 3 days)0-20 days: No fertigation
21-36 days: 2.0 kg 19-19-19/fertigation (6 fertigations)
39-57 days: 3.0 kg 19-19-19/ +1.0 kg KNO3+1.0 kg urea/fertigations (7 fertigations)
60-102 days: 5kg 19-19-19/ +1.0 kg KNO3+1.5 kg urea/fertigation (15 fertigations)
(108 kg 19-all+22 kg KNO3 + 30 kg urea)
Foliar nutritionGive foliar sprays @ 5g/litre using foliar spray grade fertilizers containing Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, B, Cu, Zn three times starting from 45 days after transplanting at an interval of 15 days
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