Lady Fingeror Okra, which is also known as ‘ Bhindi ‘, is one of the important vegetable crops of India. It is grown throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions and also in the warmer parts of the temperate regions. Okra or Lady Finger(Abelmoschus esculentum (L.) Moench.) plant belongs to the family Malvaceae. The nutritional value of 100g of edible okra is characterized 1.9 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 6.4 g carbohydrate, 0.7 g minerals and 1.2 g fibers.Okra or Lady Fingerhas a good potential as a foreign exchanger
crop and accounts for 65% of the export of fresh vegetables. It is cultivated in 0.35 M ha area with the production of 3.5 M mt and productivity of 9.6 mt/ha. The major Lady Finger/Okra producing states in India are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Ladies Finger, Okra (English), Bhindi (Hindi), Belendri (Manipuri), Vendaikkaai (Tamil), Bendakaya in (Telugu),Vendakka (Malayalam), Bende kaayi (Kannada), Bhinda/Bhunda (Gujarati), Dherasa (Bengali), Bindu (Kashmiri), Bhendi (Marathi, Oriya).
Lady Fingerrequires long warm growing season during its growing period. It gives good yield in warm humid condition. It grows best within a temperature range of 22-35°C. It can be successfully grown in rainy season even in heavy rainfall area. Bhendi is highly susceptible to frost injury. Seeds fail to germinate when temperature is below 20 °C.
Lady Fingeror Bhendi can be grown well in all kinds of soil. .But sandy loam and clay-loam soils are best for its cultivation. The optimum pH range is between 6 and 6.8. Soils with high organic matter are preferred so that cartloads of FYM (Farm Yard Manure) or compost should be incorporated during land preparation. Soil should have good internal drainage.
The land should be well prepared with 2-3 ploughing. Well decomposed FYM (25 t/ha) is incorporated at the time of land preparation. Bhendi is sown on ridges or on flat soil. If soil is heavy, sowing should be done on ridges. Application of organic manure like neem cake and poultry manures improves the plant growth and the yield in this crop. It is possible to reduce the use fertilizer by using neem cake and poultry manures or any other compost.
The Bhendi crop requires adequate moisture in the soil during summer months for faster growth. Drip irrigation is most suitable moisture in the soil during summer months for faster growth. Drip irrigation is most suitable to the Lady Fingercrop as it provides uniform moisture throughout the season. The daily water requirement of Lady Fingercrop is 2.4 l/day/4 plants during early growth stage and 7.6 l/day/4 plants during the peak growth stage. The irrigation system should be operated daily for 75 minutes during initial growth stage and for 228 minutes during peak growth of the crop with an emitter capacity of 2 lph. Water supply on each day or on alternate days with On-line type of drippers is preferred.
Mulching in bhindi crop improved its growth and yield and enhanced conservation of moisture in the field.Generally black LDPE sheets of 200 gauge were used as mulched material.Methods of irrigation did not affect the number of fruiting branches when the crop was mulched.It produces 51% more number of flowers and higher level of fruit set that is on an average of 88.1% when the crop was mulched.Mulching insulated the plant from soil moisture stress as well as other physico-chemical competative factors in the soil and helped in maintaining good internal water balance in the plant body.When crop were mulched weed growth was checked,reduces ferliser leaching, and soil moisture losses through evaporation were arrested.These factors all together might have contributed for higher yield such as number of fruiting branches,number of flowers,number of fruits, fruit set,weight of fruits and ultimately the finale fruit yield.
Seed rate of Lady Fingeris about 3.5-5.5 kg seeds/ha during summer seasons and 8-10 kg seeds/ha for rainy season crop. The seed rate generally varies with germination percentage, spacing and season. Before sowing the seeds are soaked in a solution of Bavistin (0.2%) for 6 hours. The seeds are then dried in shade. The seeds are dibbled on the either side of the furrows at a spacing of 60 x 30 cm in kharif season and 30 x 30 cm in summer season.
The optimum time of seed sowing varies greatly depending upon climate, varieties and their temperature requirement for growth. Normally the crop is sown between January-March and June-August. The exact month of sowing depends on the region.
Ridges & furrow type of layout is use. The hybrid varieties are planted at a spacing of 75 x 30 cm or 60 x 45 cm. A pre-soaking irrigation 3-4 days before sowing is beneficial. The seeds germinate in about 4-5 days.
Application of manures and fertilizers
In order to maximize the yield about 30 t of FYM (Field Yard Manure), 350 kg Super phosphate, 125 kg Murate of Potash and 300 kg Ammonium sulphate should be applied in the rows before sowing for one hectare of land. Nitrogen should be applied through fertigation in three split doses.
As Bhendi is harvested over a long period, weed control happens to be an important cultural operation. Weeding, thinning and earthling up is the important intercultural operations of bhendi. Earthing up in the rows should be done in rainy season crop. Application of herbicides for controlling weeds in bhendi is found effective. Basalin (Fluchoralin 48 per cent) @ 1-2 liter per hectare, and soil application of Tok-E-25 @ 5 liter per hectare effectively controlled the weeds. Shallow rooted inter-row cultivation and hand weeding may be used to minimize weeds in the inter row zone. Black plastic mulch may be used to suppress weed growth. The black plastic mulch also keeps the soil warm and encourages plant growth.
Flowering begins from 35 to 40 days after sowing. Crop is harvested in 55 to 65 days after planting when pods are 2 to 3 inches long. At this stage the pods are still tender. Larger okra pods will tend to be tough and fibrous. Roundpodded okra varieties remain tender at larger pod sizes and are good to use for slicing and freezing. Since, Okra grows very fast, it should be harvested every two days. The pods should not be allowed to mature on the plant because this will inhibit more pods from developing and reduce the productivity of the plant. Handling of okra should be done carefully because the pods bruise easily.
The yield of Bhendi/Okra/Lady Fingervaries from 5 – 7 t/ha in summer to 8 – 10 t/ha in the rainy season.