Okra Farming Guide (Lady’s Finger):-
Introduction of Okra (Lady’s finger):- Okra is a vegetable crop which can be predominantly grown in tropics and subtropics. Okra was originated in tropical and subtropical Africa. In Asia, the crop is cultivated for its young tender vegetables, used in curry and soups after cooking. Okra is also popularly known as “Lady’s finger”. In India, this vegetable as called as “Bhendi” or “Bihindi”.Okra is good source of nutritional values and health benefits. The stem of the plant is used for the extraction of the fiber. Okra farming is very profitable and can be cultivated throughout the year. Okra belongs to the family of “Malvaceae” and genus of “Abelmoschus”. This vegetable has sticky texture and tastes good especially when made them fried.
Health Benefits and Uses of Okra:- The health benefits and uses of Okra include the following.
- Okra is a source of high fiber content.
- Okra is a good source of folate content.
- Okra is a source of vitamin ‘A’,’B’, ‘K’ & ‘C’.
- Okra is an excellent source of iodine and is useful for the treatment of goiter.
- Okra is a good source of hair and skin.
- Okra may prevent diabetes.
- Okra may prevent colon cancer.
- Okra may control cholesterol Level.
- Okra may prevent skin pigmentation.
- Okra may control asthma.
- Okra may prevent constipation.
- Okra may prevent sunstroke.
- Okra may control obesity and help in weight loss.
- Okra may prevent constipation.
- Okra may help in improving eyesight and immune power.
- Dried fruit contain 12 to 22% edible oil and 20 to 25% protein and is used for refined edible oil. Dry fruit skin and fibers are used in manufacture of paper, cardboard and fibers.
Major Okra Production Countries:- India is the largest producer of okra in Asia as well as in the world. It is also used as a vegetable in Brazil, West Africa and many other countries in Asia. In India, major okra/ lady’s finger growing states are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
Local Names of Okra in Asia:- Okra (English), 오크라,okeula (Korean),Ramtoriya (Nepali),بامية (Arabic),Yong Kok Dau (Chinice),Okra (Filipino),กระเจี๊ยบเขียว (Thai),Đậu bắp(Vietnamese),Okura,オクラ (Japanese),Bandakka,බණ්ඩක්කා (Sinhalese, Sri lanka),Бамия (Russian),Bamya (Turkish),秋葵(Taiwanese),Bhendi (India).
In India, Local names of okra are as follows: Ladies Finger, Okra (English), Bhindi (Hindi), Belendri (Manipuri), Vendaikkaai (Tamil), Bendakaya (Telugu),Vendakka (Malayalam), Bende kaayi (Kannada), Bhinda/Bhunda (Gujarati), Dherasa (Bengali), Bindu (Kashmiri), Bhendi (Marathi, Oriya).
Okra Varieties:- There are many hybrid/commercial varieties available in every region of Asia. Farmers should find out the high yielding local cultivar to suit their needs.
In India, Pusa Makhamali, Pusa sawani, Vaishali, Pusa sawani, Vagmi, pb. Padmini, and Selection 2-2 is fairly mosaic tolerant Parbhani Kranti (Resistant to virus disease). Okra (Abelntoschus esculentus) are improved varieties of okra.
Climate Required for Okra Farming:- Okra/Lady’s finger is a warm season vegetable crop and requires a long warm growing season. This vegetable can be grown yearlong throughout Asia and in India it can be grown in summer months and during the rainy season (monsoon). This vegetable crop is highly sensitive to frost and okra seeds germinate poorly at ground temperature of 20 °C or below.
Soil Requirement for Okra Farming:- Okra can be cultivated in most of the soils. However, sandy loam and clay-loam soils (loose) rich in organic matter are best suited for its farming. The ideal pH for growth of plants is 6-8.Farmers should go for soil test before going for commercial cultivation of okra. Adding of 25 tonnes of well rotten farm yard when preparing the land will boost the soil fertility.
Land Preparation, Seed Rate, Spacing and Plantation in Okra Farming:- Land should be given 2 or 3 ploughings to get the soil to fine tilth stage and remove any weeds from previous crops.
Usually, in case of rainy season, okra crop can be sown in the month of June – July and it requires seeds rate of 10 kg/ha. For summer season crops, the crop generally sown in the month of Jan to Feb and recommended seed rate is 14 to 15 kg/ha. For winter season, this crop is sown in the month of Aug to Sept. Again, seed rate depends on the cultivar and pattern of planting followed.
In okra farming, Ridges & furrow type of layout is beneficial and or summer crop, a spacing of 45 cm x 30 cm and rainy season crop, a spacing of 60 cm x 45 cm is recommended. Some farmers even sow the seeds on the border of main crops.
Propagation and Raising Seedlings in Okra Farming:- Propagation in okra cultivation is done by seeds. Seeds can be directly sown in the main field or can be transplanted from nursery beds.
Manures and Fertilizers in Okra Farming:- Apply 25 to 30 tonnes of well rotten farm yard farmyard (FMY) manure as basal dose at the time of final ploughing as part of land preparation. A dose of 150 kg each of ‘N’, ‘P2O5’ and ‘K2O’ is recommended in the coordinated trials.NPK recommendation varies region to region. One third dose of ‘N’, full ‘P’ and ’K’ are to be applied as basal dose. Remaining ‘N’ should be applied in 2 split doses, 1 month after sowing the seeds and at flowering and fruiting stages. Split application of ‘N’ in soil at every third picking is advantageous for getting high yield, for increasing number of harvests and to maintain size of fruits towards last harvests.
Irrigation in Okra Farming:- Irrigation is very important especially at the time of flowering and fruiting stage of okra growth. Water stress will drastically impact the growth of okra plants, size of vegetables and yield. Immediately after sowing, field should be irrigated and subsequent irrigations should be given at fixed intervals depending on type of soil and weather conditions. In black soils, as they have more moisture holding capacity, irrigation can be given at once in a weekly.
Intercultural Operations/Weed Control in Okra Farming:- Farmers should control the weeds till crop canopy covers fully. This can be done by frequent hoeing, weeding and earthing up. Using weedicides and mulching can control the weed growth in okra plantation. Carrying one hand weeding @ 45 days after sowing the seeds proved more effective and financially viable.
Pests and Diseases in Okra Farming:- Yellow vein mosaic virus disease, cercospora leaf spot, powdery mildew are the common diseases found in okra farming. Jassids, fruit borer, nematodes are the main insect pests found in okra farming. For control measure of these pests and diseases, contact your local horticulture department.
Harvesting in Okra Farming:- Usually, flowering in okra plantation starts from 40 to 45 days after sowing the seeds and vegetables ready for harvesting after 4 to 5 days after flowering. Picking of okra in the morning is advisable. Do not delay of picking the vegetables, as the vegetables become fibrous and loose tenderness. Based on the crop, okra pods can be harvested once in two days or three days.
Post Harvesting in Okra Farming:- Harvested okra should be graded and filled in jute bags or baskets or perforated paper cartons and sprinkled with water to keep them fresh. Pre-cooling of fruits before packing maintains turgidity of fruits and will save it from bruises, blemishes and blackening. This is usually done before packing vegetables in cartons of 5 to 8 kg before transporting to refrigerated van for export. They can be transported to local markets on daily basis based on the local demand.
Yield in Okra Farming:- In any crop, yield depends mainly on variety sown, soil type, weather conditions and farm management practices. In okra farming, on an average, rainy season crop gives up to 7500 kg/ha and summer crop gives up to 5000 kg/ha for the period of 100 and 90 days respectively.
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