Monday, August 11, 2008

okra ladies finger vegetable farming

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) or ladies finger Is a popular annual vegetable grown in tropic & subtropics. Tender green fruits are cooked in curry & soup. The seeds are also rich in edible oils & protein. The oils extracted from the seeds are used in making soap, various cosmetics. The proteins in the seeds are used as supplements in feed fortification.


The roots have a well developed tap root system & so it is recommended to grow okra in well drained , humid, rich soils containing good amounts of organic content. Loose , friable soils are best suited.

The land selected should be free from weeds & clods & other formations should be pulverized. Sowing is done either by seed drill or hand dibbling.

above photo shows okra seedlings after 7 days from date of sowing

The seeds are sowed on ridges & spacing between the plants on each ridge should be around 45 cm. the distance between each row of ridges should be at least 75 cm. the land has to be thoroughly plowed as tiny stones & clods have a detrimental effect on germination.

Organic manure should be mixed well in the soils and carbofuran granules must be added to prevent soil nematodes from eating the seeds. This will help the germinating seeds for a period of 3 weeks.

above photo shows the okra plot 15 days after first day of sowing

The seeds have a strong seed coat & this can be broken by soaking the seeds in water/curds overnight.


Organic manure during sowing the seeds is a must. Application of fresh compost manure, which is not decayed properly will cause more harm than good as the ammonia released in the fresh manure will destroy the young emerging seedlings. Application of complex fertilizers like NPK is done in split doses. When the seedling reaches 4 to 6 leaf stage , earthing up & other interculture operations are done. Here adding organic manures along with NPK can be done.

organic manure being added

manure added to either side of the rows

decayed organic manure is safer to use as it will not have toxic gases

after application, top dressing is done, soil is again heaped near the base of the plant

Manuring during the most crucial flowering stage has to be monitored properly. The final dose of complex NPK and organic manure can be given at this time. Foliar sprays can be given at all stages of crop development .


Watering has to be done immediately after seeds are sowed. Maintaining the soil moisture is very important at every stage. Generally watering is done every 3 days, when field conditions are normal. Under high temperature conditions, watering every alternate days in done. Ridge system of irrigation is better than flooding.

During monsoon watering is not required as the soil will have adequate mositure. Even though it can tolerate moderate to heavy rainfall, excess rainfall will damage the crops.

Moisture stress during flowering will have a great impact on the development and quality of the fruits.


After germination of the seeds, thinning out is done. Plant population & plant density can be maintained here with thinning out. In places where seeds have not germinated, it is recommended to immediately sow seed rather than transplant from another area. Even though transplanting has worked in many cases, it is not followed as it is time consuming & laborous & the percentage of success is also very low.

top dressing , earthing up of soil, application of manure.

the above photo shows crop development after 2 weeks of adding manure

Weeding is the most laborous of inter culture operations in orka. But it has to be done repeatedly . weeds directly compete with the growing crop for nutrients, space & water. The time of sowing, weeds must be removed , and when application of manures during the later stages of crop develpoment, weeds have to be removed.

Some okra varieties show lateral branching. However pruning is not done.

The main crop loss is due to MOSAIC VIRUS where the plants start to turn bright yellow and results in death of the plant. Since there is no cure for virus, only prevention can be done.

Since it is transmitted by whitefly, which act as vectors, spraying with dimethoate @ 2 ml per litre at an interval of every 10 days is followed. Strong concentrations of insect repellants like neem extracts @10-15ml per litre can also be applied as foliar spray.

Plants which already have yellow mosaic should be uprooted & burnt at some distance.

photo shows leaf damaged by hairy caterpillars

Another serious pest is the presence of hairy caterpillars. The adults leave the eggs on the under side of the leaf & the larve when they hatch feed on the leaves in a gregarious fashion. Here CHLOROPYRIPHOS@ 2 ml per litre can be sprayed at an interval of 15 days.

hairy caterpillars infested plant


Different varieties have different days of fruit formation. ARKA ANAMIKA which is a very popluar variety shows flowering from the 50th day of sowing.

Harvesting must be done using gloves or cloth as the tiny hairs on the plant & fruit can have an allergic effect to some. Harvesting should be done every alternate day to avoid smaller fruits & tender fruits from being plucked.

flowering and fruit formation seen

fruit and flower buds

hybrid variety okra

a typical okra field

The crop can be retained for over 2 months & yields of about 100 quintals per hectare have been recorded.

Photos and content by Pritham 'Heavy metal farmer' denzil dsouza


  1. Hi there,

    I saw some bugs on the underside of the okra leaves. I think they are aphids. Can you please confirm?

    I have been using garlic sprays assuming they are aphids.

    Many thanks

  2. Hi there,

    Are these aphids?

    Many thanks

  3. hi,
    the pic u sent me... they are not aphids and they are not aphid eggs either.
    aphids are tiny, soft bodied, yellow green insects and can be seen in large groups...
    aphid eggs are not powdery like in the pic u sent me.
    pls email me at
    i will send u photos of aphids n aphid eggs...

    what u have are insect eggs... and in many cases even lady bugs eggs are yellow in color, but distinct, not powdery... at least the photo looked powdery

  4. In soil less method for growing Okra, the medium used by you is coconut pith. Do you monitor pH anyway ? I understand the coir pith pH is 'neutral' and deficient of essential minerals like N, P K etc.,

  5. yes u are correct about the pH of coconut pith being neutral.. and u are also correct that it totally lacks nutrients.. thats why we have to prepare the nutrient water and add... for more i suggest u take a look at

    i have to blog the yield.. which was excellent... and i used the local mangalore variety of okra which is highly succeptable to yellow mosaic virus... here using hydroponics, not only did the plant yield much before time, not a single plant contracted the virus... thanks for checking my blog

    for more about nutrients visit my hydroponics blog and see the yield of other plants there as well...

  6. Dear Preetam,

    I have planted Okra in poly bags on my RCC terrace. Now the plant is developing flower buds. Today morning I observed all the plant's stem and back side of leaf is flooded with small water droplets kind thing and I guessed it must be eggs of some kind of insect. This tiny droplets is also seen in one of your published photo under 'flowering and fruit formation seen'. What is the remedy to get rid of these tiny eggs ?


    Ramdas K R

  7. thanks for the feedback. if u see tiny water droplets it is morning dew and not insect eggs. insect eggs are rarely scattered over the place and are mostly opaque and never totally transparent. and they are found mostly in clusters. however if u could send me a preview photo i can give a better response. but if u feel that they are insect eggs, i do not recommend any chemical sprays etc. u can use a paint brush and remove the eggs yourself and destroy them immediately. do not allow the eggs to fall in soil or nera the roots as they will incubate and again infest the plant.
    also once a week at least i recommend u spray 3 ml per litre water pure neem oil. u get them at all horticulture stores. but remember, destroy the eggs yourself since there are only a few plants and u can take personal care of it individually.

  8. Hi Heavy metal farmer,
    i've got some small bright white residue on my grown okra. Do you know what it is and if it is harmful? It's not slimy but actually looks like wet crow shit. It is not widespread, just a tiny bit which i can dust off. SHould i be worried? This is my first harvest in my kitchen garden.Any advice greatly appreciated thanks.

  9. hello nonsensegirl!!!!! i love the name.... anyways.... what u see on ur okra seems to be a case of mildew.... whitish in color... can be dusted off... its a kind of fungus... that grows... and YES its a cause of concern...if u have photos of the same it would be cool if u can send them to me at

  10. I alsoI too planted and okra and there are a lot of tiny water droplet like stuff on the surface of the stalk and the underside of the leaves.and I can tell that it is not a water droplet as it did not dry up even in the afternoon and it even increased in number could u tell me what those are it is transparent is it eggs , fungus , parasites , or just something natural that the plant excretes ? Hope u reply early

    1. thank u for contacting me and visiting my blog. pls send me photos if u can to my email id and i will look into the matter at the earliest.... thank u