Okra: prunning leaves as fruit is picked, Comments?

ju1234((8 Dallas TX))October 13, 2012

First year my growing Okra. I have Clemson spineless, cowhorn, burmese, 16" Louisiana.

I have noticed, the fruit sets at the node (angle of the leaf and stem). Some nodes grow shoots instead of fruit. As you pick the fruit from lower node, next node sets a fruit or shoot and that continues up the plant and the lower nodes no longer bear any more fruit. I have noticed that after you cut the fruit off, that leaf gradually dies. Within a day or so, the leaf stalk just bends as if somebody actually tried to break it.

So, I thought, if the leaf is going to die after fruiting, why not just remove it. So, I have been prunning the leaves near the stem soon after picking the fruit. I think it removs all excess and old leaves. It gives the plant more light and makes harvesting much easier. Before this I found it harder to harvest because of all the little prickles on the leaves and sticking my arms through the dense leaves to reach the farther plant caused some spines to get in the hands or arms and keep irritating for couple of days (i have them planted as a group rather than in rows).

also notice that removing the leaves seems to promote emergence of new shoots which then bear fruit. That is particularly usefull for the Clemson which has only one vertical stalk without side branches.

Picking the leaves like this seemes to have caused no harm to the plant. I first thought that leaves are responsible for synthesizing the nutrition for the plants, so they should not be removed.

The plants are already 8 feet high, harder to harvest the higher up fruit. I am thinking that next year I will trim the growing top when plant gets to may be 4-5 feet.

Comments? Thanks.

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Sounds like a good Ideal.
I plan to cut/pinch the top of my CS next year also, at 6 feet.
I am wondering which Okra you like best.
I want to Cow Horn, I will plant it 24 inches on center in raised beds, maybe small annual herbs around it.
How far apart did you plant your Okra?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 8:52PM
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ju1234((8 Dallas TX))

As far as taste, they all are same. I don't pickle so I don't know which one will do better. I would think Burmese might do better because it is thin and thin walled too. From production point of view, I think Clemson is best. The cow horn gets side branches, so it spreads more compared to Clemson which is single stalk streight up. Cowhorn would spread 5'. I planted all of them really close (Limited growing area).

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 2:43PM
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I'm getting side branches and fruits on those with my Clemson spineless.

Here is a link that might be useful: DFW Gardener

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I'm farther north than the rest of you, and i grew mine in 15-gallon containers, so my okra was probably a lot less vigorous. I grew emerald last year and cajun delight this year, and tried cutting off the top to encourage side branching both years. In all but a couple cases, the plants did not produce more than one side branch and production stopped for a couple weeks. If I grow the same plants in the future, I am definitely not going to do any pruning.

Here's one of my emerald okra plants.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 5:21PM
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IAmSupernova(SE Texas 9A)

I just recently gave up and pruned a lot of the leaves off my 4 plants. I planted them all way too close together and they are huge bushy plants now and are all intermingled and tangled up, it's a mess. A week or so ago I decided to thin it out and took off at least a 1/3rd of the leaves.

Production actually shot up over this last week, and I mean greatly. Yesterday I picked almost as much okra just in that one day that I have been getting in 5-7 days.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:10PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

w/r removing the okra leaves.... the never-ending task of removing okra leaves has been a standard practice for folks who plant okra in our region.

w/r spacing... 11-12 inches seems to work the best for me

w/r variety... I prefer Emerald & Cowhorn. However, the last few years I've only planted Emerald. The Emerald plants are shorter and have more branching. However, Cowhorn seems to produce a larger okra before getting woody.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 2:04PM
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ju1234((8 Dallas TX))

Grandad, 11-12 inches is really close, specially for Cowhorn which branches quite a bit.

What is the right time to trim the leaves?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:06PM
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ju1234((8 Dallas TX))

Ohiofem, nice picture. Which variety is this? Very short internodal distance, so short but still productive plant. Is it the characteristic of this variety or the way you are growing it? I certainly would like ot try this one next time.

This picture is good for me to illustrate how I have been trimming the leaves. You see the bottom most leaf stalk where you see the stump of the cut off okra. After the experience i have gained, now i would cut that leaf off at the same time I am cutting the fruit off. The next leaf up shows a well developed shoot coming off that. I would definitely cut that leaf off. Next one has a flower, I would wait for that to turn into a fruit before I trim that leaf. Next the tip shows several flower buds not opened yet. I would leave those leaves till they all open and turn into fruit.

All th emore experienced people her: does that sound about right? Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:16PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

The photo is of Emerald in June. The internodes seemed pretty far apart to me as the plants grew -- maybe 8-10 inches. I grew three plants in each 15-gallon container. They grew about 7-feet tall, but the ones I cut the tip off would not branch. They just stopped producing for several weeks. I didn't purposefully cut off the leaves, but most of them fell off a week or so after I had harvested the pods near them.

I did get a pretty good yield from the ones I didn't prune. (Keep in mind we don't eat a lot of okra in Ohio!) I was able to make several pots of gumbo with frozen pods over the winter.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:34PM
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ju1234((8 Dallas TX))

I have few Clemson plants that look just like the Cowhorns (I posted in another post) because I had accidently cut one off when it was only about two feet high. When I saw several branches coming off it, I purposely did that to few I planted in a second setting in June. They all have 4-5 large side trunks.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:23PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

ju1234, interensting that your Cowhorn branches "quite a bit"... because mine did not. The last time I planted Cowhorn they grew to about 12 to 14 feet tall with little branching... which is why I tried Emerald. (I guess I should have tried topping the Cowhorn to promote branching.)

I trim the leaves constantly. Sometimes its a bit of a chore to keep the plants trimmed.

Regarding the 11 to 12 inch spacing... I only plant single file in a 3 ft wide row. And the plants seem to do OK with this spacing... perhaps in part because I keep the leaves trimmed. (Another commenbt...When removing okra plants at the end of the season, I have noted that the roots have grown well into the adjacent rows.)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 2:47PM
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ju1234((8 Dallas TX))

Between the two posts, information I got has me all confused.

Grandad, your Cowhorn (which has fruit that looks like my Burmese or 16" Louisiana) does not branch, hence you can grow them 11-12" apart. My Burmese, which was for sure not topped, spreads out quite a bit. The Louisiana 16" is even more sprawling and taller.

Iamsupernova has Clemson that branches without topping. I have Clemson that grows tall single stalks but Clemson plants I topped early in season are branched and spread out.

My cowhorn, the fruit of which looks like Clemson, I assume has been mislabelled by the person who sent me this seed. But the plant branches and spreads out.

I don't know if I am helping anyone here. Sorry.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 4:03PM
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I have been growing okra for 60 years or more and we have always trimmed off the leaves below the okra after it has been cut from the stalk. It promotes growth of both the plant and okra. Don't forget to side dress the okra after it is about waist high.
Keep it watered about once a week unless you are in a drought area. Then water it twice a week. Okra is probably the easiest vegetable to grow. It requires little care and gives excellent yields. Plant it about 16 to 18" apart and you will harvest okra all summer. The hotter the summer the better the okra likes it.
One side note. Before you plant your okra, be sure the soil has warmed to at least 72 degrees and either freeze or soak your okra seeds overnight before planting. They will germinate faster.
Hopes this helps some.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 5:56PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

This is an interesting thread. I topped my Emerald plants a few weeks ago and they put out a good number of side shoots (though 1 plant has not made any). I noticed that the shoots that came out very low on the plant were being shaded by the large old leaves that were left on the plants after topping. So I cut the old leaves off this week in the hopes of letting those low shoots get more light. I did it with great fear and trembling as I too thought I might be hurting the plants. Glad to hear that you all have had such good results with this technique.

Have any of you ever topped the plants very early in the season to get maximum shoots early on? I just wonder if that would result in a larger crop overall.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 9:41AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I'm glad someone revived this thread.

After reading this on Aug 13, I thought I would give it a try, I trimmed them that day. I didn't top.

I'm picking 2 gallons a day of CS from a fifty foot row, It seems to work!

Who say's you can't teach an old dog new tricks!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 12:33PM
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