Kali Zammit, Schmit, Rene A.
Okra has always been a popular vegetable for southern gardeners and is the perfect choice for Louisiana’s hot summer climate.
Okra is both easy and fun to produce and grows well in a variety of soil types. It grows best in full sun especially when planted in rows that line up in an east/west direction. This alignment provides the opportunity for okra plants to capture maximum sunlight which is important for flower production. Okra seeds can be sowed directly into the garden soil whether planted in-ground or in containers. However, okra seeds can sometimes be difficult to germinate and a good start is to soak the seeds in water over night prior to planting. Soaking helps to melt away the hard coat that covers the okra seed.
Success is best achieved when rows are spaced an average of 3 feet apart and seeds planted at a 1 inch depth, four to six inches apart. When seedlings emerge and become several inches tall, plants should be thinned out to provide 1 ½ to 2 feet of space between each okra plant. Space is important for okra production, and planting too close together often contributes to a less desirable performance.
General fertilizer recommendations would include applying 1 pound of 13-13-13 or 2 pounds of an 8-8-8 per hundred feet of row and then side-dressing with 1 tablespoon of ammonium nitrate per plant when plants reach a six to eight inch height and then again two to three weeks later. Use caution to not over-fertilize with nitrogen as too much will contribute to excessive plant growth and a less and often poor production. Because okra tolerates dry conditions very well, watering on a regular basis is not needed unless an extended dry period would occur.
Okra takes about 60 to 70 days to produce edible pods for harvesting and quality is best achieved when okra is picked at 3 to 4 inches long. Once harvesting begins okra should be picked every few days.
Okra varieties recommended for home vegetable planting by the LSU AgCenter includes: La. Green Velvet, Clemson Spineless, Emerald, Annie Oakley, Burgundy and Cajun Delight.
Reach out to your St. Charles Parish agent for more information.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture