Okra is an economically important vegetable crop of many countries in Africa including Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Egypt and many others. It has the nickname “lady’s finger” and is sometimes called “gumbo” in most other places. Farmers growing Okra for profit do so to meet both domestic and foreign market demands.
Okra is easy to grow and use and looks lovely throughout the growing season due to its beautiful flowers. It is also rich in Vitamin A and low in calories, which makes it a great addition to any diet.
Okra likes fertile, well – composted soil and needs moisture and warmth to thrive. Although okra typically has no problems with diseases or pests it is very sensitive to frost. Heat – loving okra is capable of withstanding dry periods once established. Okra can grow around 75cm wide and 120 – 180 cm tall.
The key to maintaining okra production continuously throughout summer is to harvest regularly. Only 3 to 4 days are required from the time the okra flower opens until the pod reaches harvest maturity. For this reason, okra must be harvested at least every day during the growing season.
Since Okra is very susceptible to damage by nematodes, one should follow a crop rotation, using such crops as grasses and small grains, which prevent a building of nematode populations. Okra should not follow vine crops, such as squash and sweet potatoes because these crops tend to increase nematode population.
Okra grows best on soils that have a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. A “soil test” will indicate if lime is required and will also specify the amount of fertilizer to apply. If lime is recommended, use “dolomitic” lime. Apply it 3 or 4 months before the crop is seeded. If a soil test is not available, general recommendations are to apply. Use 600 to 800 pounds per acre of a complete fertilizer such as 6-12 or 5 -10 -15. This can be mixed under the row or applied in a band to the side.
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