How to produce a heavy crop of okra.

fusion_powerFebruary 1, 2011

Okra should be planted into moderately fertile soil about 2 weeks after the local frost free date. Plant okra in hills with 5 to 8 seed very closely clumped together per hill and each hill about 18 inches apart in rows at least 36 inches wide. If the soil happens to crust, having several seed in one spot will permit them to break through. Once the okra plants reach about 6 inches tall, cull the plants to 2 or 3 per hill leaving more plants for shorter and less vigorous varieties and less plants for more vigorous types. When the plants are 1 foot tall, side dress with a balanced fertilizer with a moderate amount of nitrogen. (Chicken manure would be a bit too high for nitrogen. Rabbit or cow manure would be just about right.) Spray with neem a couple of times to discourage pests. When the plants produce edible pods of okra, harvest the okra for the first 2 or 3 weeks, then stop harvesting and let the plants set a seed crop. If done properly, these steps will bring the plants to an optimum maturity to produce a heavy seed crop. If you do not want seed, just keep harvesting until you are tired of eating okra.


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2 or 3 week harvest just won't do it for me, I really like okra. I eat all I want fresh and freeze a lot. Do you sprout or roast your okra seeds?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 8:17AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"If you do not want seed, just keep harvesting until you are tired of eating okra."

Yeah, like that will ever happen! ;-) What I don't eat fresh, I freeze. The bearing season is severely restricted, though, due to my short summers.

I use the same planting method (hills of 5-6 seeds) as Fusion, since my soil tends to crust over from heavy rains in late Spring. Since the plants don't get too large here, I use 24" spacing each way between the hills; but when I grew okra in SoCal, I used 24" between plants, with 36" between rows. I thin to single plants, which then branch vigorously. Never tried multiple plants per hill, sounds like an interesting experiment, to compare the yield.

"When the plants produce edible pods of okra, harvest the okra for the first 2 or 3 weeks, then stop harvesting and let the plants set a seed crop."

Alternatively, let one pod per plant go for seed. With my short summers, this is the only way I can get seed reliably. The single mature pod does not appear to reduce the yield, which continues uninterrupted until cold weather stunts the plants.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 11:24PM
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Rockguy, I grow seed to send to Sandhill Preservation. That is why I focus so much attention on growing and producing a huge seed crop.

Zeedman, I get acout 20 pods of okra per plant for seed after eating the first 8 or 10 pods per plant. That would not work for you with your shorter season.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 2:38AM
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I don't consider where I live to be prime okra growing territory.

Yet every year I swear I'm going to increase distance between plants...last summer was 3 feet centers bilaterally.

It was hard to squeeze in and harvest.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 7:06AM
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Here's the Michigan method for getting a bumper crop of okra.

1) Watch the weather forecasts, and wait until they're predicting a sunny, warm, dry spell in early May. Sow seeds in flats in greenhouse.

2) The day after you sow the seeds, watch the chipmunk eat half of them from the flats.

3) The next day, watch an unexpected cold front come from Canada, bringing a week of cold, wet, dark weather with enough clearing at night to bring frosts, bringing the soil temp in the greenhouse to a point low enough that many of the remaining seeds rot.

4) Baby the survivors for a month.

5) Wait for ideal time to plant out in early June. Have a late frost threaten, so you cover them. Then it clouds over at night an only gets to 45. Whew, safe.

6) Remove covers. Baby them. Plants actually grow.

7) By July, plants are getting larger and showing signs of buds. Have deer and or woodchucks move in and strip them.

8) Baby some more. They grow back. They start to bloom.

9) Deer move in for the fatal blow, and chew them off to stubs again. By this point, it is August. Nothing will happen now.

  1. Last step -- go to store and buy several bags of frozen Freshlike brand Okra -- whole or sliced, you choice.

You have now learned the secrets to getting okra in Michigan.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 9:17AM
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In AZ, I put about 3 seeds in each hole. Pluck all but one plant. About 3-4 feet apart. Have to pick everyday once they get going or they'll be 10 inch pods by the next day. I give some to my parents. Keep a pickle jar in the fridge to plop some pods in. My hubby doesn't like okra so I eat the rest. I grew about 4 plants last year, they produced until December and are still alive but I'll probably chop them down and start over unless somebody tells me that they can be perineal like eggplants? If so, I'll just let them keep growing. They're like weeds around here, love the heat. In the summer, I can only get okra and eggplant to produce. Even my peppers take a break.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 12:39PM
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I am in southern california and am attempting to grow okra once again. For the first time, it looks like it is going to be successful.
I bought they plants as babies at Home Depot and transplanted. They are growing very well in my opinion. The issue I am dealing with now is potential overcrowding. When you buy the plants, there is usually 2-3 in each space together, and they are transplanted into the ground that way. They are all growing. Do I NEED to thin them out to get a decent crop, or can I just let them keep going? I have plants at various levels of growth, with the largest being about 14". Of these 14" plants, there are 2 groups, both with 3 plants growing very closely together. They look strong and healthy. Should I let them all keep going, or should I cut it back to only 1 plant per group?

These are Clemson Spineless.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 12:52PM
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As long as they're in rich, fertile soil and you keep them watered, you should be OK with them in clusters of 2 or 3. You didn't say how far apart you planted each clump, though -- if its closer than about 8 inches, you maybe should thin out and remove one from each clump.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 1:28PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Okay, still giggling from the Michigan secrets....hee hee. I haven't grown okra in years. But found I had an empty raised bed (3' x 8'), and sowed some seed in it last week (Emerald, per farmerdill). This morning, I thinned them and now have one plant every 12" in all directions, for a total of about 24 plants. (I have three foot paths all the way round the bed.)

Question: Is okra a heavy feeder? I added blood meal to the soil a week before planting. It's a slow release, but do you think I will need another application? What about water? I have already had to take action against snails, but I think they're all okay. Other than deer protection, anything else I need to know?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 2:48PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I don't grow out seed for anyone, but man, I've already gotten about 25 pods from one plant, and it is just starting out, it's been producing for about 2 weeks now. That's burgundy, and I find it is a heavy cropper. I do nothing special at all to it. Planted in raised beds, not in a hill, there are 4 plants down the center of the bed. I grow peppers under them, so that once the peppers fruit, they get some shade to mature - no burn this way.
I've got another 20 plants of okra growing, since I succession plant. There are 6 plants that should begin to fruit later next week, and then the rest will fruit two weeks after that. They are planted singly, along the fence line. I wanted plenty for freezing, pickling and giving away. Last year we had 3 plants, ate okra every day for 3 months and had a years worth of frozen okra.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 3:06PM
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Thanks denninmi. I was JUST about to go clipping before I read your post.

The clumps are only about 14" apart. Not sure if that is good enough. Maybe I should take each down to 2?

It sounds like if my clumps only have like 2-3 it should be ok. I guess I will just continue this way for now. Hope it works out because I love okra!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 11:01PM
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