Okra (Abelmoscus esculentus)

OKRA (Abelmoscus esculentus) what is okra? Okra is also a vegetable crop commonly grown by local farmers in West Africa.

Okra, scientifically known as Abelmoschus esculentus or Hibiscus esculentus, is a flowering plant that belongs to the mallow family, Malvaceae.

It is cultivated for its edible green seed pods, which are commonly referred to as “okra” or “lady’s fingers.” Here are some key details

lady finger, Okra

Plant Description:

  • Okra is an annual plant that can reach heights of 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters).
  • It produces large, hibiscus-like flowers with five yellow petals and a red or maroon centre.
  • The edible part of the plant is the elongated, ribbed green pods, which are typically harvested when they are young and tender.

Culinary Uses:

  • It is a versatile vegetable used in various cuisines around the world, including Southern United States, Indian, Middle Eastern, and African cuisines.
  • It can be cooked in a variety of ways, including frying, boiling, stewing, and pickling.
  • It is known for its mucilaginous or slimy texture when cooked, which can be reduced by cooking it quickly or using techniques like frying.

Nutritional Value:

  • Okra is a nutritious vegetable that is low in calories and a good source of dietary fibre.
  • It provides essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and magnesium.
  • It contains antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols, which contribute to its health benefits.

Health Benefits:

  • Okra is known for its potential health benefits, including improved digestive health due to its high fibre content.
  • It may help stabilize blood sugar levels and benefit individuals with diabetes.
  • Some studies suggest that okra may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • It may support heart health by reducing cholesterol levels.

Cultural Significance:

  • Okra is a popular ingredient in many traditional dishes, such as gumbo in Louisiana, bhindi masala in Indian cuisine, and bamya in Middle Eastern cuisine.
  • In some cultures, okra is believed to have medicinal properties and is used to treat various ailments.

Growing Okra:

  • It is a warm-season crop that thrives in well-drained soil and full sunlight.
  • It is commonly grown in regions with hot summers.
  • Okra plants are relatively easy to grow and are suitable for both home gardens and commercial farming.

okra is a versatile and nutritious vegetable with a long history of culinary and cultural significance. It offers a range of health benefits and is enjoyed in various dishes worldwide, making it a valuable addition to diets and cuisines.

The fruits are called capsules, read the types of fruits here. When young, they are harvested with a knife and used in soup preparation.

Land preparation for the planting of Okra

The bush is cleared with cutlass while ridges or heaps are constructed with hoes. Alternatively, the land can be prepared by ploughing, harrowing and ridging.

Varieties/Cultivars of Okra

New lady’s finger and the Perkin’s long pod.
Climatic and soil requirements: Okra requires a temperature of 18CC – 30C, rainfall of 100cm – 150cm per annum and well-drained loamy soil.

Method of propagation of Okra

By seeds

Planting date for Okra. Early April and May.
Spacing: 60cm x 60cm.

method of Planting: Seeds are planted directly into beds, two to three seeds per hole which should be 3cm deep. Germination occurs from the 5th day after planting.

Cultural Practices for the Cultivation of Okra

(i) Thinning and supplying: These can be done where necessary.
(ii) Fertilizer application: Superphosphate fertilizer at 100kg/hectare is required. Ring application is used.
(iii) Weeding: This should be done regularly.

Maturity period of Okra

This occurs between three and seven
Harvesting: The young and succulent green immature fruits are plucked or harvested with a knife. Harvesting is done over a long period of time.

Processing of Okra

: The fruits are used as food.

Storage method: The fresh fruits are stored in a cool place, e.g. refrigerator or the dried ones are stored in sacks.

Pests of Okra, symptoms and control methods

(1) Flea beetles: These insects attack the plants and eat up the leaves. read about biting and chewing insects here. This they do by putting holes in the leaves as they eat them.
Control: Spray with insecticides

(2) Cricket and grasshopper: These insects also defoliate the plant by eating up the leaves and young stems
Control: Spray with insecticides

Diseases of Okra, symptoms and control

(1) Root-knot disease: It is caused by eelworm nematode which is found in the soil. read animal pests of crops here
Symptoms: Symptoms include knotting or galling of roots, retarded growth and reduced yield.

(i) Practice crop rotation
(ii) Use resistant varieties
(iii) Treat soil with nematicide e.g. Nemagon

(2) Mosaic disease: It is caused by a virus which is transmitted by piercing a Piercing and Sucking Insect Pestnd sucking insects. Symptoms include mosaic colouration on the leaves, leading to low yield of the crop.

(i) Spray with insecticide to kill vector
(ii) Uproot and burn infected plants



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