- Soil Preparation: Okra requires well-draining, fertile soils with a pH of 5.8 – 6.5. Deep ploughing or subsoiling should be done to ensure any old plough pan is broken up, so roots can go deep. Apply green manure or 25,000-30,000kg/ha of manure before planting.
- Fertilizer Application: Apply a basal dressing of 750kg-900kg/ha of Compound “D”. Top dress with 200kg of AN split into 4 applications at weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8. Apply composite manure at 40,000kg/ha.
- Irrigation: Any method of irrigation is suitable for okra production, but it’s preferred to use irrigation that does not wet the foliage to reduce disease pressure. Normally around 500mm-700mm of water is required, but the amount of irrigation needed depends on soil type and growing conditions.
- Planting: Direct sowing or seedlings can be used for establishing the crop. Germination occurs within 7 to 15 days depending on soil temperature. Plant seedlings into moist soil and irrigate as soon as possible after transplanting.
- Spacing: 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.
- Maintenance: Remove weeds regularly, and apply pesticides and fungicides as necessary. Monitor for nematodes, and avoid planting in fields that previously had crops prone to nematode attack.
- Harvesting: 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 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. 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.
- Planting Stages: The following table shows the estimated days for each stage of okra production.
Okra is a profitable crop that requires proper soil preparation, adequate irrigation, and regular maintenance. By following the above guide, you can successfully grow and harvest a good yield of okra.