Okra Seed Production with Cost and Return Analysis

Okra is a plant that produces an edible pod that is eaten as a vegetable, and is native to Ethiopia, where it has been cultivated and used for centuries.

Okra  plants can grow to six feet (two meters) tall, and sometimes even higher, in the right conditions. The plants produce large white to yellow flowers which develop into ridged pentagonal pods. The seed pods are 3 – 10 inches long, tapering, usually with ribs down its length. These tender, unripe seed pods are used as a vegetable, and have a unique texture and sweet flavor.

Okra is a tropical plant which grows best in warm climates.
It is available year-round, with a peak season during the summer months. The pods grow rapidly, being ready for harvest in about 60 days of summer weather, when grown from seed. They must be picked a few days after flowering, when 4 inches or so in length, before they mature and toughen. Okra comes in varying shades of green (there is also a new red variety), and can be smooth or have a ribbed surface.

Seed Production

Variety: Smooth Green

  • yield: 21 tons/ha.
  • harvest maturity: 45-50 days from planting
  • fruits are smooth, 7-10 cm long, green, and slender
  • IPB selection

Environmental Requirements

  • Okra grows best under tropical conditions with temperature range of 20-35°C.
  • Tolerant to wide range of soils, but prefers well drained soils high in organic matter and pH of 6-7.6.

Cultural Management

a. Land Preparation

  • Prepare land thoroughly by mechanical means or with the use of animal-drawn implements.
  • Make sure to break big clods.
  • Space the furrows 75 cm apart.

b. Planting

  • Okra is direct seeded, requiring 10 kg seed/ha.
  • Soak seeds in water overnight before planting for faster and uniform germination. Air dry the seeds before sowing.
  • Sow 2-3 seeds/hill along the furrows 30 cm apart.
  • Irrigate immediately after planting to ensure uniform seed germination.
  • Two weeks after planting, thin out weak and diseased seedlings, maintain one healthy plant per hill.

c. Fertilization

  • Rate of fertilization depends on soil analysis, but in its absence, apply 10 gm or 1 tbsp complete fertilizer (14-14-14). Add about a handful of chicken manure per hill and cover with a thin layer of soil.
  • At 30 and 45 days thereafter, sidedress 15 g of a mixture of 2 parts Urea (46-0-0) and 1 part Muriate of Potash (0-0-60) per hill.

d. Irrigation

  • During dry months, furrow irrigate every 7 days. Irrigate only as needed during the wet season.
  • Water is critical at planting, after emergence,during the vegetative stage and at flowering and fruiting development.

e. Weeding

  • Keep the plants weed free within the first month. Hand-weed especially around the base of the plants.
  • At 30 days after planting, hill-up immediately after sidedressing to cover the fertilizer and control weeds.

f. Insect Pest Management

  • The most common pest of okra is cotton stainer and leafhopper. For leafhopper, spray appropriate chemical on the underside of the leaves where the insect settle.

g. Disease Management

  • Cercospora leaf mold and powdery mildew are the major diseases of okra. Prune and burn infected leaves to minimize or prevent their spread. Spray appropriate fungicide.

h. Pollination/Isolation

  • Okra is predominantly self-pollinated crop but 4-5% cross-pollination can occur depending on variety.
  • Bees and flies pollinate okra.
  • Maintain an isolation distance of 200 m for certified seed and 400 m for breeder seed.

i. Crop Inspection and Roguing

  • Inspect the crop three times during the growing period.
  • For certified seeds, inspect
    1. A month after emergence, check for leaf size, shape and color, growing habit and vigor.
    2. At flowering and podding stages, check for shape and color of flowers, fruit size, shape and color and number of ridges in pods.
    3. At first maturity, check for fruit size, shape and color, late maturity and unproductive plants.
  • To keep the genetic purity of the seed lot, avoid planting different varieties of okra in succession on the same lot. This will avoid volunteer plants from dormant seeds of the previous variety to be mixed with the newly-planted variety.

j. Harvesting

  • Seeds mature about 110-120 days from emergence.
  • The basal and apical pods do not mature all at the same time so that about 3-4 primings may be needed.
  • Pods turn leathery brown in color at seed maturity.

Post-Harvest Handling

a. Seed Processing

  • Put matured pods in canvas matting and sundry for 2-3 days or until pods become brittle.
  • Thresh pods to extract the seeds and clean using air-screen cleaner or winnow.
  • Get only the healthy seeds and remove seeds that are unfilled.
  • Dry clean seeds gradually under the sun for 4-5 days to lower the moisture.

b. Packaging/Storage

  • 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 bags or aluminum-lined packets and seal tightly.
  • Keep the seeds in a cool and dry place or storage area. The drier the stored seeds and the cooler the storage area, the longer the life of the seeds.

Cost and Return Analysis

For more information, please contact:

Crop Science Cluster-Institute of Plant Breeding
College of Agriculture, UP Los Banos College, Laguna
Tel. Nos.: (049) 536-5287; 576-0090

PCARRD, Los Banos, Laguna
Tel. Nos.: (049) 536-0015 to 20
Email:     [email protected]
Web: www. pcarrd.dost.gov.ph

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