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Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus )
 
Chromosome Number: 56-199
Taxonomic Classification
Class : Magnoliopsida
Order : Malvales
Family : Malvaceae
Genus : Abelmoschus
 
Okra is an annual vegetable crop grown in tropical and subtropical regions. Specific varieties are grown even in lower hills with moderate climate. Tender, green fruits are cooked in curry and soup. The root and stem are used for clearing cane juice in preparation of ‘gur’. High iodine content of fruits helps control goitre while leaves are used in inflammation and dysentery. The fruits also help in cases of renal colic, leucorrhoea and general weakness. In India, the crop has not adapted as leafy vegetable as in Far East countries. It has yet multiple uses. The dry seed contains 13–22% good edible oil and 20–24% protein. The oil is used in soap, cosmetic industry and as vanaspati while protein is used for fortified feed preparations. The crushed seed is fed to cattle for more milk production and the fibre is utilized in jute, textile and paper industry. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa are major okra-growing states in India.
   
Climate and soil  
Okra requires a long, warm and humid growing period. It can be successfully grown in hot humid areas. It is sensitive to frost and extremely low temperatures.For normal growth and development a temperature between 24°C and 28°C is preferred. At 24°C the first flower bud may appear in the third leaf axil while at 28°C it may appear in sixth leaf axil. This higher position is not necessarily accompanied with a delay in time because at higher temperatures the plants grow faster and the higher position is reached earlier. For faster plant growth still higher temperature helps though it delays the fruiting. But at higher temperatures beyond 40°–42°C, flowers may desiccate and drop, causing yield losses. For seed germination optimum soil moisture and a temperature between 25°C and 35°C is needed with fastest germination observed at 35°C. Beyond this range the germination will be delayed and weak seeds may not even germinate. Adjustment of climatic factors helps in taking at least one (summer) crop in hills, 2 or even 3 (summer, kharif and late kharif) crops in the east, west and north Indian plains and almost year-round cultivation under moderate climate in south India. It is grown on sandy to clay soils but due to its well-developed tap root system, relatively light, well-drained, rich soils are ideal. As such, loose, friable, well manured loam soils are desirable. A pH of 6.0–6.8 is ideally-suited. However, okra Pusa Sawani has some tolerance to salts and thus also to larger pH range. All soils need to be pulverized, moistened and enriched with organic matter before sowing.
 
Varieties
Important commercially cultivated varieties in different parts of the country are: Arka Abhay Resistant to yellow-vein mosaic virus, its plants and fruits resemble to those of Arka Anamika in appearance. It is tolerant to fruit-borer and may suit pruning to tame the plant for a ratoon crop. It is a sister line of Arka Anamika. Arka Anamika Its plants are 100cm, upright, open and slightly pigmented on stems, petioles and lower leaves. Fruits are dark green with 5 prominent ridges and comparatively less smooth surface. It takes 50 days (6th node) to first flowering and 55 days to first picking of tender marketable fruits. It is excellent yielder in south but with a lower performance in northern India. It is resistant to yellow-vein mosaic, the yield being 125q/ha. Azad Kranti The plants of Azad Kranti are fast-growing, occasionally branched and with sparse pigmentation. The fruits are green, smooth, shiny, long, 5-ridged with long beak, the leaves are green, normally lobed. It is tolerant to yellow-vein mosaic virus, the yield potential being 125q/ha. It is suitable for cultivation in spring-summer season. Co 1 Its plants are tall with 6–8 branches. Stems, shoots, petioles midribs and basal veins of the lower surface of leaf lamina are prominently scarlet red. Leaves are light green, medium-sized and deeply lobed. Petioles are longer (around 24cm). The fruiting starts from 5th node. The fruits are glossy, slender, 5-ridged, scarlet red (colour non-persistent on cooking), borne on an average 20 fruits/plant. It has field tolerance to yellow-vein mosaic virus but is susceptible to fruit-borer and powdery mildew. MDU 1 The plants are tall growing with short internodes (6cm) bearing 10 fruits each. Stem is green with light purple pigmentation. Bearing starts in 33–35 days after sowing from 4–5 node. The first picking starts 43 days after sowing. Fruits are light green, about 20cm long having 52 seeds/fruit. The fruits are well-filled, weighing around 29g each. Gujarat Bhindi 1 Its plants grow 60cm high in spring-summer and 90cm in kharif season. The plants are erect with purple tinge on stem. Leaves are broad, dark green, with purple tinge on veins. It takes 55–60 days to first picking. Fruiting starts from 4–5 node. The fruits are 5-ridged, tender, 14–15cm long and 6–7cm in girth. It yields around 70q/ha green fruits. Harbhajan Bhindi Its plants are very tall, thick and prolific-bearing with large, moderately lobed leaves having rough surface and prominent veins. The fruits are very long, tapered, bright green, spineless and mostly 8-ridged. Hisar Unnat It is resistant to yellow-vein mosaic virus. Its first picking may be taken in 46–47 days. It is high-yielding (120–130q/ha green fruits) variety. Plants are medium-tall with short internodes, producing 3–4 branches each. Foliage is green, petioles occasionally pigmented. Petal base is pigmented from inner side only. Fruits are green, attractive, 5-ridged, measuring 15–16cm in length on full maturity. It is suitable for growing during summer as well as rainy season. Parbhani Kranti It has tall, single-stemmed plants with dark green foliage. The leaves are deeply lobed appearing like cut leaves towards plant apex. First flush becomes ready 55 days after sowing. The fruits are smooth, dark green, tender, slender, 5-ridged with long beak. Average green fruit yield varies from 85–90q/ha during spring-summer to 115q/ha in rainy season. Seed yield varies from 5–6q/ha in spring-summer to 10q/ha in rainy season. Perkins Long Green Its plants are green, upright, producing green fruits of excellent quality and appearance. The variety is suited for cultivation in slightly cooler climates in lower northern hills. With the development of present day high-yielding varieties, its cultivation is now limited and localized. Punjab 7 The plants are tall in kharif and medium-tall in spring-summer. Stem carries splashes of pigmentation. Leaves are dark green with less lobing and less serrated margins. Petiole base is deeply pigmented. Plant is sparsely hairy. Fruits are medium-long, green, 5-ridged, slightly furrowed with less pointed beak. Fruits are borne on 5th–6th node, 50 days after sowing. It yields 100q/ha in kharif and 50q/ha in spring-summer. Punjab 8 Its plants are tall with purple pigmentation splashes on stems, petioles and lower surface of the leaf base. Stem, petiole, leaves and fruits are sparsely hairy. Fruits are medium-long, thin, tender, green and 5-ridged. It has field resistance to yellow-vein mosaic virus and tolerance to shoot and fruit-borer. It may be cultivated in kharif as well as in spring-summer season in north India. Punjab Padmini The plants of Punjab Padmini grow fast, up to 180–200cm, single stem at 45 × 30cm but medium branched at higher spacing. Pigmentation is visible on stem, shoots, petiole and lower basal veins of leaves. Leaves are dark green, medium-lobed and plant is hairy. First picking is available in 53–54 days. Fruits are dark green, fast growing, smooth, 15–20cm long and 5-ridged, weighing 20–21g each. It possesses field resistance to yellow-vein mosaic virus and tolerance to jassids and cotton boll-worm. It is suitable for kharif and summer seasons of north and winter season of southern India. On an average, the yield is 100–125q/ha green fruits or 12.5q/ha dry seed. Pusa A 4 The plants are dark green with sparse pigmentation (occasional) on stems and petioles with usually single stem having short internodes (2–4cm). The leaves are broad, medium-lobed. The fruits are 5-ridged, attractive, dark green, 12–15cm long having excellent shelf-life. It is resistant to yellow-vein mosaic virus and tolerant to aphids and jassids and least preferred by shoot and fruit-borer. In summer season, it yields 100–120q/ha, while kharif and late kharif crop yield up to 175q/ha. Pusa Makhmali This is a 5-ridged cultivar with excellent quality fruit. Fruits are light green, tapered, attractive and 12–15cm long, the yield potential being 80–100q/ha. It is suited for cultivation in hills and virus-free regions (spring-summer in north India and rainy season in southern India). The plants are hairy, tall, erect, less branched with palmate and hairy leaves. Pusa Sawani It needs 45–50 days from sowing to first picking. First fruit is borne on 6–8 node. Upper leaves are deeply lobed. It is suitable for cultivation in both spring-summer as well as kharif seasons as it is day-neutral and less sensitive to temperature fluctuations. It has a very wide adaptability. In hills, it can be sown from April to May depending upon the altitude, while in plains, virus-free period is better suited (spring-summer in north). Its yield is 120–125q/ha Red Bhindi Released for southern plains, its fruits are 5-ridged, red, long and slender, fleshy with lesser seeds than Pusa Sawani. It gives good yield under southern plains though its cultivation is limited. The red colour of fruits disappear on cooking. TN Hybrid 8 The plants are branched type having sparse pigmentation except on fruits, green foliage and green, 5-ridged, medium-long fruits. It has fair degree of adaptation and is also a high yielder even under north Indian conditions. It is resistant to yellow-vein mosaic virus. Varsha Uphar It has high degree of resistance to yellow-vein mosaic virus and field tolerance to leaf hoppers. It is recommended for cultivation in disease-prone areas. However, it can be grown in spring-summer as well. Its plants are medium-tall with short internodes, producing 2–3 branches each. Foliage is dark green, lower leaves broad with shallow lobes. It takes 46–47 days to first picking. Fruit bearing starts from the 4th node. Fruits are smooth, dark green, attractive with long tapering tips measuring 18–20cm on full maturity. Average number of seeds/fruit is 55–60. Due to fast growth of fruits, harvesting on alternative days is recommended. It is a prolific-bearer with an average fruit yield of 100q/ha. Besides, a number of hybrids from many private sector agencies/seed companies are marketed. Of these, Varsha, Vijay, Adhunik, Panchali, Hybrid No. 6, 7 and 8, Nath Sobha, Supriya, Sungro 35, Aroh 1, –2, –3, –9 and are popular.
   
Cultivation  
Sowing Okra gives little success on transplanting and thus seed is sown directly in the soil by seed drill, hand dibbling or behind the plough. Broadcasting is not recommended as it increases seed rate as well as causes great inconvenience in cultural operations and harvesting. Sowing on ridges ensures proper germination, reduces water requirement during spring-summer and helps in drainage during rainy season. A planting distance of 60cm × 30cm, accommodating 55,000 plants/ha is recommended for branching and robust types, while 45cm × 30cm accommodating 75,000 plants/ha is for non-branching types. During spring-summer season with less plant growth these spacings are kept at 45cm × 30cm or even less. For harvesting smaller fruits for fresh fruit export a group of 2–3 rows at 20cm distance keeping 60cm between these groups of rows could be planted allowing 20–30cm between plants within the rows. This eases harvesting and checks branching. The seed rate of 18–22kg/ha for spring-summer and 8–10kg for rainy (kharif) season crop is optimum. Higher seed rate could be used if the crop is to start early in spring summer as it augments germination loss due to low temperature. Higher seed rate and lower spacing could also be opted for summer crop to lower the field temperature and keep fruiting going on under frequent light irrigation. Soaking seeds in 0.2%. Bavistin solution overnight helps activate germination and protects seedlings from wilt. Soil treatment with Furadon @ 2kg ai/ha (20–22kg product) helps protect plants from root-knot nematodes and other pests during initial 4–5 weeks. The soil should be well-prepared and whole of organic matter, P, K and half of N should be thoroughly mixed. Sufficient soil moisture and temperature around 30°C help in quick and uniform germination. Sowing in moist soil is preferred over irrigation after sowing. June-end is sowing time for kharif crop and February-end to early-March for spring-summer crop in north India. In southern India, it could be grown year round. Winter crop with November-sowing is also taken. In north Indian hills, it is sown during April–June while in eastern and western India, summer crop sowing is done during January–February. In West Bengal, sowing continues from February to June. Training and pruning Okra as such does not require training or pruning. Varieties developed so far are upright growing and hence staking is also not practised. Recently, some success has been achieved in raising near normal kharif crop (ratoon) from plants of spring-summer sowing by pruning the plants after summer fruiting and with the onset of the rains, from 20–25cm above the ground, adding organic and inorganic matter in the soil and providing plant-protection cover. Okra Arka Abhay and Pusa A 4 give quick branching after pruning. Manuring and fertilization The farmyard manure should be mixed in soil at the time of land preparation along with whole quantity of P and K. Half of N should be added to the soil before sowing, while one-fourth before flowering as side-dressing and one-fourth in 3 consecutive foliar sprays (1% urea) at 10 days interval during fruiting. Okra responds to 150kg N/ha depending on genotype and soil fertility. Similarly soils deficient in P and K improve fruiting and fruit quality when these are applied to the soil externally. Moreover fruiting and fruit appearance are also improved. With the advent of high-yielding varieties and hybrids, their nutritional requirement has gone higher. Aftercare Thin out the closely germinated plants at one true leaf stage. Proper weed management in okra could save up to 90% crop losses due to weeds. A total of 3–4 weedings starting from 20 days after sowing are required till the crop covers the soil surface. Use of weedicides reduces the number of weedings to zero during summer and 1 during kharif (rainy) season. Fluchloralin (Basalin 48ec) @ 1.2kg/ha as Pendimethalin (Stomp 30ec) @ 0.75kg/ha as post sowing and pre-emergence soil surface spray gives initial control of dicot weeds, though one weeding may be needed in kharif crop. Okra could be taken in different cropping systems. In sequential cropping, potato–carrot–okra; okra–potato–tomato; cauliflower–tomato–okra; groundnut– greens–wheat–okra; okra–palak–potato–muskmelon and okra–radish–cauliflower– squash–cowpea give crop security and higher income/unit area. Okra + radish and okra + Frenchbean give higher returns than solo crop. They respond to higher doses of NPK indicating better utilization of fertilizers under intercropping. Okra could give 300–500% crop land-use efficiency as an intercrop in cassava and cucurbits. Growing okra–cowpea–maize, maize–okra–radish and okra–okra–radish reduces bacterial wilt in tomato and brinjal taken as succeeding crop. Irrigation First irrigation should be given when first true leaf initiates in spring-summer and when it expands in kharif (rainy) season. Subsequent irrigations at 4–5 days interval are given to summer crop. If temperature goes around 40°C, frequent light irrigations are recommended to help proper fruiting. Thus soil should be kept moist and flooding or wilting of plants should be avoided. Drip irrigation saves around 85% water requirement though it is not yet commercial in okra. Furrow system is better than flood system. Mositure stress during flowering and fruit/seed setting causes around 70% crop losses. The nutrient uptake from soil is also at peak during fruit set and development stages. A water stress in the field during this period not only causes yield reductions but also affects the nutritional status of the fruits.
   
Harvesting & Postharvest management
Early harvesting gives lower yields of tender fruits with shorter shelf-life. In general, harvesting on every alternate day is advisable. A cheap hand glove or cloth bag should be used to protect fingers. Harvesting in the morning is convenient. For distant markets, harvesting late during evening and transporting during night is also advised The fruits are graded. For processing industry and fresh fruit export 6–8cm long fruits are sorted out. Longer fruits are used for fresh market. For local market, fruits are cooled (preferably) and filled in jute bags or baskets, covered or sewed and then water sprinkled over it. This helps in cooling as well as in turgidity of fruits which tightens the pack and saves product from bruises, blemishes and blackening. In air-tight containers the fruits may turn pale during transit due to heat generated by them. For export, suitable size perforated paper cartons are taken and precooled fruits are packed and transported in refrigerated vans. Export market requires tender, dark green, straight, short (6–8cm) fruits.
 
Nutritional Value
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Date: 2015-12-11; view: 776


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