Okra is one of the common vegetables grown in Texas, and it belongs to the Mallow family. It is a warm-season vegetable that grows well in most South / Central Texas soil. For adequate production, okra should be grown for at least eight hours in sunlight and well-drained fertile soil. Let’s check out a detailed guide to growing Okra/Bhendi in Texas.
Guide to growing Okra/Bhendi in Texas
Okra varieties that grow best in Texas
The best Okra varieties are Annie Oakley, Long Pod Dwarf, Blondy, Prelude, Heirloom: Stewart’s Zeebest, Cajun Delight, Clemson Spineless, Emerald, Louisiana Green, Burgundy, Green Best, Lee, and Velvet.
Soil preparation for growing Okra in Texas
Okra plant will grow best in soil that has been worked to at least eight to ten inches. In the early stages of preparation for any vegetable crop, consider adding organically enriched and properly aged compost to the planting area by at least one to two inches. Remove debris like rocks or trash, and throw the soil on a smooth planting surface. Remove all rocks and rubbish from the soil, and then level it.
When to grow Okra in Texas?
Okra is a warm-season crop. It is one of the few vegetables that can bear fruit in hot weather. The planting time frame starts from late spring to late summer. It grows rapidly and starts production in a few weeks. Plant your Okra seeds after the last frost, anytime between late April and early June, for the best yields in spring.
For best autumn yields, the best dates for Okra planting in Texas are before the first frost of autumn in early August, which can be up to 31 October. In particular, you will need to see when the last frost occurs. Generally, when it has not been cold for two weeks, you are safe to plant your Okra outside in Texas.
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Start sowing okra seeds in Texas
Although you can start with the seed, it is not a problem. Sow the seeds directly in the ground. If you decide to start growing Okra with a seed, follow these steps;
- Fill a clean four-inch container with a pre-moistened seed starter mix. Use the tip of a pencil to make two to three holes in the surface.
- Each hole must be twice the size of the seed in depth.
- Place an Okra seed in each hole and then cover it with soil.
- Water well. You can keep the pots outside.
- Make sure the soil is moist.
Okra planting conditions in Texas
Texas has a predominantly warm subtropical climate with warm summers and arid winters, and it is a state in the United States. Therefore, soil conditions in Texas are favorable for various plants and crops. Generally, they have a thin sandy loam surface layer, dense claypan subsoil, and shallow loam with deep sandy loam. In addition, the lower part of Texas has deep, very fertile, reddish-brown to loamy soils.
Texas is also rich in Alfisols, which can support the life of various vegetables. Okra thrives in very hot climates, so it is commonly grown in Africa. Because Texas can provide adequate warm temperatures due to its extreme heat, Okra can grow well. Although Okra performs quite well in dry conditions, it will give higher yields if you water it every seven to ten days. Sandy soils will need more frequent watering.
Diseases are more severe in Okra in cloudy and humid weather. Check daily and see if appropriate treatment with neem oil, sulfur, or other fungicides. Make sure and follow the label instructions. If aphids are a real problem, treat them with pesticides. Organic control options available at garden centers include Bt-based pesticides and sulfur. Again, always follow label precautions, warnings, and instructions.
Plant around Okra plants to remove any obnoxious weeds or grass. Pulling the weeds by hand near the plants will prevent damage to the roots of Okra. After the first harvest, add half to one cup of synthetic garden fertilizer or two to three cups of organic fertilizer for every ten feet row. Spread the fertilizer evenly between the rows. Mix it lightly with the soil. After fertilizing, water the plants well.
How to grow Okra in containers in Texas
Growing Okra in containers is fun and easy – if you have the right ingredients. By researching the variety, choosing the correct container, and even making sure that the plants around your pot are doing the most to benefit your plant during its growing season. As with any plant, the key to growing Okra in containers is standard soil. Okra defines a soil rich in organic matter that comes out well, and it requires a soil pH level of 6.0 and 7.0. The size of the container is also important.
You are looking for a container at least ten to twelve inches deep and the same diameter. Good drainage will ensure that plant gets the right amount of water without fear of excess water. Since Okra requires a lot of heat, we recommend taking a dark container, absorbing more sunlight, and preserving the soil temperature. Okra performs best with a mix of pottery without being filled with organic matter and phosphorus-rich fertilizers.
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Also, you can fertilize the soil throughout the life of your Okra plant. Try composting your vegetable scraps on top for extra nutrients. Okra is quite flexible and can occasionally dry out if you forget to water it for a few days. You will have the greatest success if you give your plants about an inch of water each week. Choosing a container with good drainage can help ensure that your plant does not get too much water.
Okra does very well in containers. However, since Okra plants are so large, we recommend that you use a large container for each plant. Also, you can customize the soil and fertilizer for the plant without worrying about affecting other vegetable plants. A bonus – a portable container can be easily moved so that the Okra gets the sunlight it needs.
Where to plant Okra in Texas
Okra is said to grow well in most of southern/central Texas. However, if you are in another part of Texas, choose a place for ample production in sunlight, with deep, well-drained, fertile soil.
Okra fertilizer schedule in Texas
It is essential to work on wet soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. For best yields, prepare your beds in full sunlight for two to three weeks after all frost hazards have passed. Apply 2-3 pounds of 10-10-10 or 15-5-10 and work in the top 4 inches of fertilizer and soil. Plant the Okra seeds 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart. Keep the rows three feet apart. When the Okra grows about an inch, thin it at a distance of one foot.
If the Okra plant is about two months old, it will produce a large flower. Three to four days after opening, the pods will be three to four inches long and ready for harvesting. Re-fertilize between rows after the first harvest. Apply 1 cup for every 10 feet, and lightly scrub in water. To make sure your pods are soft, pick them up every 1 to 2 days. It will also help the plants to produce more pods.
When you see a pod that is too big, please pick it up and throw it away or put it in your compost. Plant energy should go towards making new edible pods instead of planting hard pods. However, let some pods grow large if you want to save seeds next spring at the end of the Okra growing season. First, pick large pods and let them dry. Then, shell the Okra seeds and store them in a cool, dry place.
Watering requirement for growing Okra
Watering will perform quite well in dry conditions. However, watering every seven to ten days will yield more. Sandy soils generally require more water than loamy soils. Consider setting up a drip irrigation system. Such a system would provide a more efficient and sustainable method of proper irrigation. A two-inch layer of pine or cedar mulch will also help reduce water.
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Keep your Okra plant hydrated, watering your plant every morning so it can retain water throughout the day. When they are about 3 inches long, thin them out. Dilute small plants and keep them strong. Keep your Okra plant away from unwanted pests and weeds. If you see any unwanted plants, remove them. To keep pests away, use household pesticides and keep your plants in good condition.
Critical to profitable Okra production in Texas
Step 1: After selecting a site, prepare or dig the soil very deeply. It will grow best in soil that has been worked to ten inches. Get rid of debris like stones, sticks, etc. Then introduce the soil with fertilizer and mix.
Step 2: Make planting holes for seeds. Do your best to clear the planting holes to avoid overcrowding. Plant Okra seeds at a distance of about one foot.
Step 3: Plant Okra seeds about 1 inch deep in the plant holes, cover it with soil and add water. Water regularly for best results. Below are some tips on growing Okra in Texas to grow them successfully in the right season with the necessary planting components.
- Make sure you put Okra plants in place with adequate sunlight.
- For healthy growth, make sure you plant them in suitable soils, especially in soils where nitrogen-fixing plants like peanuts, soybeans, etc., come first.
- Make sure the fertilizer you put into the soil is evenly distributed.
- Make sure you cut the stalk of the Okra to get more yield.
- Take regular steps to control weeds and pests to ensure the successful growth of Okra.
- Be sure to inspect your oyster plants, especially during humid weather conditions, and if any disease occurs, treat them with an approved fungicide. Neem oil can also help in curing some diseases of Okra.
- Make sure you water them regularly, especially in the summer. If you plant your Okra seeds in the spring with the proper practice and harvest them in two months.
Most Okra crops in Texas produce from 1,000 to 3,000 pounds of milled seed per acre. Therefore, a reasonable average Okra yield is 1,600 pounds per acre.
Okra plant pests, diseases, and their control
There are many pesticides available in garden centers for homeowners to use. Sevin is a synthetic insecticide, and organic options include sulfur and Bt-based pesticides. Sulfur also has antifungal properties and helps in controlling many diseases. Before using pesticides, read the label and follow the precautions, warnings, and instructions. The disease is most severe in cloudy, humid weather. Check the plants daily and if diseases appear, treat them with an approved fungicide.
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Neem oil, sulfur, and other fungicides control plant diseases. Always follow the label instructions. Southern Stem Blight, Verticillium, and Fusarium volts are some of the more severe diseases that attack Okra. Root-knot nematodes can also reduce yields. Crop rotation is a way to control many plant diseases. In rainy or wet seasons, flower and pod rot can be a problem when there is a dense canopy. Removing the lower leaves will improve air circulation and reduce flower and pod rot problems.
Okra growing problems in Texas
Flowers fall off before the pods are formed – this can be due to 35°C and above temperatures. Make sure your plants are well hydrated. If the weather is getting late and the temperature is dropping, it could also cause flowering. Contact the county extension agent in the county where you live. They will have a list of the best dates for growing each vegetable. If you live in the great state of Texas, here is a list of agents.
Flowers but not pods – Many things can contribute to your plant producing flowers but not pods. Too much nitrogen level in the soil can promote Okra plant growth but not pod formation. If so, try using a low nitrogen fertilizer. Or if the weather is too hot or if the plant is not getting enough water, then your plant cannot make pods. Both conditions can put pressure on the plant and stop pod production.
Deformed pods – Okra has finger-shaped pods and is thought to be straight as if pointing. But sometimes, you will see curled or spoiled pods. Although unsightly, deformed pods should still be edible.
When and how to harvest Okra
In general, Okra plants will produce large flowers about 2 to 3 months after planting. Okra pods will be ready for picking after 3 to 4 days. Harvest pods when they are 3 to 4 inches long. If Okra gets too big, then it will be hard and hard. Choose Okra every 1 to 2 days, or else the yield will be less. Okra can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days.
Okra seeds are easily saved for the next season by leaving some of the last pods on the plant until they are very large. Then, please remove them and let them dry. The seeds will germinate easily. Other plant materials such as stems and leaves can be added to the compost heap.
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