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Row by Row Episode 58: Tips for Growing Okra in the Garden

Row by Row Episode 58: Tips for Growing Okra in the Garden

Okra Varieties

Classified in the Malvaceae family, okra prefers warm-weather which makes it perfect for the summer growing season. The guys have tested several okra varieties over the years including Star of David, Cowhorn, Red Burgundy, Clemson Spineless, and Jambalaya. In their trials the Red Burgundy and Jambalaya varieties were the most productive. They do plan on adding more okra varieties in the future. These could include Candle Fire, Louisiana Velvet, Emerald and the Dwarf Green Long Pod okra.

Growing Productive Okra

The recommended row spacing for okra is 26 to 38 inches. Okra may be transplanted or direct-seeded. Rows should be spaced 28" to 36" apart, although the guys prefer the wider 3' spacing. Plant spacing along the row should be 8-12". Transplanting will require fewer seeds than direct-seeding. When transplanting, you can expect to use about 2 lbs of seed per acre. When direct-seeding, plant seeds 3-4" apart and thin to 8-12". This will usually require about 12-15 pounds of seed per acre. The preferred soil pH for okra is 5.8 to 6.5, which is slightly acidic. Okra prefers a balanced fertilizer at planting. Something like a 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 formulation would work well. The recommended amount is 600-800 pounds per acre, which equates to 13 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. Aphids and ants can be a major pest issue on okra plants. If you are experiencing ants in your okra, you more than likely you have an aphid problem. Aphids produce honeydew which attracts ants to okra crops. Also, okra is susceptible to parasitic nematode damage. To reduce nematode issues, practice proper crop rotation and plant cover crops like Sunn Hemp, Sorghum Sudangrass, or Mustard. Okra is commercially harvested based on three pod-length classifications: Fancy, Choice, and Jumbo. Fancy pods are around 3.5 inches long, Choice pods are 3.5 to 4.5 inches long, and Jumbo pods are over 4.5 inches long. Fancy and Choice okra pods must be harvested daily to prevent pods from getting too large. Okra plants may be pruned as they are harvested. This will make the area cleaner and easier to harvest in the future.

Show and Tell Segment

On the show and tell segment, Travis discusses his tomato struggles this year. It was a rough start, but he now has them producing well. The guys perform a taste test two heirloom varieties. They try the Cherokee Purple and the Jubilee varieties. The Cherokee Purple is a dark red, almost purple tomato, while the Jubilee is a yellow to orange tomato. They discuss the primary differences between determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties. Indeterminate tomato varieties will have a slow, steady production over a long period of time. Determinate tomato varieties will produce more tomatoes in a short window.

Viewer Questions Segment

On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about planting fall corn and lowering soil pH. Travis explains that he likes to plant fall sweet corn anywhere from late August to mid-September. If you live in zone 7A, Travis suggests planting at the end of July to early August. It is a good idea to also plant the corn on drip tape to make sure it has plenty of water in the late summer temperatures. Greg says it is easy to raise soil pH, but can be really difficult to lower it. The only option for lowering soil pH is to use elemental sulfur. It is best to always perform a soil test before adding lime to elevate soil pH levels. This will ensure that you don't add too much and over-adjust the pH.

Products Mentioned in the Show


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