LADY’S FINGER CULTIVATION
Lady’s finger / Okhra / Abelmoschus esculentus is an important vegetable crop and belongs to the Malvaceae family. It is also called Bhindi, Belendri, Vendaikkai, Bendakaya, Vendakka, Bende Kaayi, Bhinda, Dherasa, Bindu, Bhendi, etc.
It is grown in tropical and sub-tropical climates and warmer parts of temperate regions. It has a lot of nutritional value and is essential as a food crop for human consumption. It is popular, tasty and healthy to eat and its production and demand are immense. Okra is produced in UP, Bihar, Orissa, WB, AP, and Karnataka. Some popular crop varieties available in India are Kamini, Pusa Mukhamali, Parbhani Kranti, Pusa Sawani, Vaishali, Vagmi, Padmini, and so on.
Okra can be cultivated throughout the year. It is not only used as a vegetable, but its stem is also used to extract fiber. It can be eaten fried and is a little sticky while chopping and cooking. Okra is a good source of fiber, folate, vitamins, iodine, etc. It can be used in various treatments and is extremely beneficial for health. Okra is also used to produce edible oil and its skin is used in the dry form to produce paper, cardboard and fibers.
India is the largest producer of Okra in the world. It can be grown in summer months and monsoon. This vegetable crop is extremely sensitive to frost. It can be cultivated in most soil types. It can be used to make various vegetable dishes such as Bhindi fry, Bhindi masala dry, Bhindi masala gravy, Dahi Bhindi, Bede Kayi sambar, Bindi Bhaji, Aloo Bhindi, Bharwan Bhindi, Bharli Bhendi, Bhindi do pyaza, Bhindi Kadi, Kurkuri Bhindi, Bhindi capsicum sabzi, Achari Bhindi, Bhindi raita, Kadai Bhindi, Lahsuni Bhindi, Rajasthani besan bhindi masala, Shahi Bhindi, Bhindi nariyal sabzi, Okra poriyal, Bendakaya pulusu, Vendakai Pachadi, Vendakai Kootu, Vendakai Peanut curry, etc. There are innumerable such dishes that can be made from Lady’s finger and it can be cooked various ways too.
When buying Bhindi in the market, ensure you buy long, fresh looking and dark green Bhindi that does not have blemishes, cut or leaked internal juices. Okra with lesser seeds is better to buy. Wash them in running water to rid them of any pesticides. Since Okra is sticky, wipe them dry with a towel before use. Chop into small pieces and fry or long pieces as per your requirement. But the sticky vegetable is usually cooked on the low or medium flame as it can burn easily due to its tenderness.
Okra farming –
Image source – asiafarming.in
Image source – wikihow.com
The pods are usually gathered when they are tender, green and immature and they are mainly cultivated for the pods. Okra is an annual crop and grows well in well-drained soils that are rich in manure. Internally, the pods feature small, round, mucilaginous white colored seeds arranged in vertical rows. The pods are usually handpicked while they are just short of reaching maturity and eaten as a vegetable across the world.
Okra is a good low-calorie vegetable and is good for weight watchers. Okra can be pickled and preserved like other vegetables. While chopping Okra, ensure you check for black filled holes that are indicative of it being spoilt. Then you will need to throw that particular pod away. Usually, they are stored safely under refrigeration, but they cannot stay too long under refrigeration as they harden and become impossible to chop. Even while buying from the market, you will need to check each Okra for the hardness. If they hard, do not buy them and instead choose only the soft, tender ones.
Process of growing Okra
⦁ Time / Season / Climatic Conditions –
Okra is a warm season and requires a long warm growing season. It can easily be grown throughout the year. It is highly sensitive to frost and gives better yield only in humid conditions. The optimum time for growth depends on climate, cultivar, and temperature requirement.
Summer and monsoon are the best seasons to grow Okra. Normally the crop is grown January – March and June – August
It grows best in temperatures of 22 – 35 °C. It can be grown in heavy rainfalls as well but not under temperatures below 20 °C.
⦁ Seed Rate / Spacing –
Propagation is done by seeds that can be directly sown on in nursery beds and transplanted later on. Ridges and furrow layout is using for sowing seeds. Use only good quality disease resistant seeds. The seed rate for Okra farming is usually 3.5 – 5.5 kg seeds/ha during the summer season and 8 – 10 kg seeds in the monsoon. Before sowing, the seeds are soaked in Bavistin 0.2% for 6 hours and then dried.
The seeds are then dibbled on either side of the furrows at a spacing of 60 cm x 30 cm in Kharif and 30 cm x 30 cm in the summer season. Hybrid varieties are planted at a spacing of 75 cm x 30 cm or 60 cm x 45 cm.
⦁ Soil Type / Land preparation / Irrigation –
Okra can be cultivated in most soil types, but sandy loam and clay loam soils that are rich in organic matter are best suited. The ideal pH of the soil should be between 6 – 6.8. Test the soil before sowing. Add 25 tons of FYM. The soil should be well-drained. The soil should be sterilized and it can be done physically or chemically. Physical control measures include treatment with steam and solar energy. Chemical control measures include treatment with herbicides and fumigants. Solar energy is good enough to kill many soil-borne organisms.
The land is prepared by plowing 2 – 3 times to get fine tilth. Okra is sown on ridges or on flat soil. Heavy soils are sown on ridges. Neem cake and poultry manures are beneficial for better yield. 20 – 25 tons well rotten FYM is mixed with soil during field preparation. For rainy season, crop applies 50 kg; N, 50kg P2O5/ha. For summer season 40 kg N, 40 kg P2O5 should be applied.
Immediately after sowing, irrigation is carried out at fixed intervals, depending on the soil type and weather. Pre-sowing irrigation should be given to soils having insufficient moisture. First irrigation is given just after sowing and then the field is irrigated after 4 – 5 days in summer and 10 – 12 days in the winter season. Bhindi requires adequate moisture in the summer months. Drip irrigation is found effective in Bhindi farming as it provides uniform moisture throughout the growing season.
Irrigation is important at the flowering or fruiting stage. Water stress directly affects the growth of Lady’s finger. Okra requires 2.4 Irrigation/day per 4 plants during the early growth stage and 7.6 irrigations/day per 4 plants during the peak season. The irrigation system is operated for 75 minutes during initial growth stage and 228 minutes during peak growth stage with an emitter capacity of 2 lph. Water supply can be done daily or alternate days with online drippers.
⦁ Weed Management / Pest Control –
Weeding, thinning and earthling up are important intercultural operations. Earthing-up in the rows should be done in rainy season crop. Application of herbicides for controlling weeds in Okra is found effective. Basalin (Fluchoralin 48 percent) @ 1-2 liter per hectare and soil application of Tok-E-25 @ 5 liters per hectare effectively controlled the weeds.
Until the crop covers the soil completely, weeding, hoeing and earthing up should be carried on. Use of Weedicides and mulching can control weeds. One hand weeding can be done every 45 days.
Flea beetles can be controlled by controlled by spraying Rotenone or Pyrethrin
Fungal diseases can be controlled by crop rotation
For more details, please contact your local horticulturist
⦁ Harvesting –
Flowering begins from 35 – 40 days after sowing and fruits are ready for harvest 4 – 5 days after flowering. The crop is harvested 55 – 65 days after planting when the pods are 2 – 3 inches long. At this stage, the pods are still tender. Bhendi pods may be harvested continuously at some intervals. The young fruits can be harvested in the morning. Delay in harvesting may make the fruits fibrous and they lose their tenderness and taste.
Rainy season crop gives 7500 kg/ha.
Summer crop gives 5000 kg/ha.
⦁ Benefits of Okra –
⦁ Okra is a rich source of fiber, folate, vitamins and iodine
⦁ It is used in the treatment of goiter since it is a rich source of iodine
⦁ Okra is beneficial for the skin and hair
⦁ It helps prevent diabetes, colon cancer and it controls asthma as well
⦁ It also helps reduce cholesterol levels
⦁ Okra can prevent skin pigmentation and sunstroke
⦁ It is a rich source of fiber and hence keeps constipation at bay
⦁ It also helps immunity building and is good for the eyes as well as it is rich is most vitamins
⦁ It contains anti-oxidants and anti-stress properties
⦁ Studies indicate that Okra helps reduce fatigue
Nutritional Value per 100 gm
Total Fat 0.2 g 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 7 mg 0%
Potassium 299 mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 7 g 2%
Protein 1.9 g 3%
Vitamin A 14% Vitamin C 38%
Calcium 8% Iron 3%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 10%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 14%
Image source – wikipedia