Okra seed germination process: Okra is a popular vegetable crop of tropical countries is also a good source of carbohydrate, protein, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Okra is very easy to grow and use and looks lovely throughout the growing season due to its beautiful flowers. It is rich in vitamin A and low in calories, which makes it a great addition to your diet. Okra produces long edible pods on 3 to 6-foot-tall plants and it grows as a summer annual vegetable and doesn’t tolerate frost. Growing Okra plants from seed provide healthy seedlings that will grow into productive plants. The Okra seeds require proper treatment and planting to germinate successfully. Here we also discussed the following topics;
- Light requirement for Okra seed germination
- How many seeds does it take to make an Okra hole
- Okra seed germination time
- Okra seed germination temperature
- Process for germinating Okra seeds
- Process of growing Okra from seed
- Okra seeds germination period
- Tips for Okra seeds germination
- Best times to plant Okra
- Germinate Okra seeds indoors
- Okra seed selection tips
A guide to okra seed germination (ladyfinger) process
Different varieties of Okra
Light green or green fruited – Pusa Sawani, Pusa Makhmali, IARI Selection 2, Kiran, Salkeerthi
Red fruited – Co-1, Aruna
Yellow vein mosaic resistant or tolerant – Arka Anamika, Arka Abhay, Susthira (all green fruited)
Choose the sunniest spot for growing Okra
Okra plant grows best in full, hot sun. If you try to produce it in a shady spot, it won’t produce much fruit, if it lives at all. Okra must be planted in a location that gets at least 6 hours of full sun every day.
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Correct the soil pH for Growing Okra
Okra plant grows best in a soil with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0. Test your soil’s pH value to determine whether it is in the proper pH range. You can work in limestone or bone meal to increase the soil’s pH level. If you’d prefer not to change the pH level of soil using any drastic measures, you can simply work in plenty of compost, which will drive the pH level towards neutral, or 7.
Conditions that encourage Okra seed sprouting
Okra grows best in well-drained soils with a pH level between 6.5 to 7.0. It is a hot-weather plant that prefers full sun. Sow the Okra seeds directly into the garden or plant them in peat pots for later transplanting. Plant the Okra seeds 3/4 to 1 inch deep in hills 12 to 24 inches apart. Plant two seeds per hole and thin the plants, leaving the strongest plant when they reach about 3 inches tall.
Spacing requirements for growing Okra from seed
Sow Okra seeds about ½ inch deep. When direct-sowing Okra, space seeds 2 inches apart and thin to a final spacing of 12 to 18 inches apart.
The hybrid plant varieties are planted at a spacing of 75 x 30 cm or 60 x 45 cm. A pre-soaking irrigation 3 to 4 days before sowing is beneficial. The seeds germinate in about 7 days.
Growing Okra from seed
Soak the seeds in water for 12 to 18 hours to soften its hard seed coat. Soaking aids moisture absorption and seed germination.
The seeds are generally sown at depths of 5 to 6 cm; hence, the germinating seeds are likely to encounter mechanical resistance when growing to the soil surface. Then, soil physical properties such as bulk density, water holding capacity, soil compaction play an important role in germination and emergence of the seedling.
You can start Okra seeds indoors in peat pots under full light about 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date. Make sure that the covering is about 2 to 3 feet tall so that the plants have room to grow. If you do not start Okra plants early, wait until there is stable, warm weather. You can plant Okra in the garden when the soil has warmed to 65° or 70°F the warmer, the better.
Requirements for Okra seed germination
Okra plant requires moist conditions and a soil temperature near 75°F to sprout successfully. The seeds do not require light to germinate, but the new seedlings should be provided with light soon after germination to grow well. Although the soil should be moist, overly wet soil may cause the seed to rot before it can sprout. Seeds usually germinate within 7 days.
Okra seeds require optimal conditions to germinate. The seed coat is thick and hard, inhibiting germination unless the seeds are treated to enhance the germination process. Some seeds are scarified with acid by the seed producer to increase seed germination rates. Under ideal conditions, your Okra should germinate within 7 days. Seeds can be sown directly in the garden if the soil temperature is warm enough and there are enough days in the season for plants to reach maturity. Seedlings started indoors must be kept under a grow light or in a sunny window after germination. Keep the indoor nighttime temperature range above 65°F (18°C). And water to keep the seed starting mix from drying. Fertilize the plant with fish emulsion or a soluble complete fertilizer at half strength.
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Viable Okra seeds germinate within 7 days and then require approximately 48 to 75 days to maturity, depending on the variety. The plants and pods grow fast and require picking every day or two to prevent the pods from becoming large and fibrous.
Keep the Okra well watered
Okra must be given at least an inch per week of water. Water the plant every morning to thoroughly moisten the soil, except after heavy rains. Okra plant can withstand a bit of drought, but it grows much better when given plenty of water throughout the summer.
It’s best to water Okra plant in the morning so that the plants have time to dry before nightfall. If the water stands in the garden bed overnight, it could cause the Okra plants to start rotting. When you water Okra, try not to get water on the plant leaves. When the sun starts beating down on the plants, the water will act as a magnifying glass and burn the leaves.
If you are planting Okra transplants, be sure to space them about 1 to 2 feet apart to give them ample room to grow. Plant Okra seeds ½ to 1 inch deep and 12 to 18 inches apart in a row. You can soak the seeds overnight in tepid water to help speed up the germination process. Okra plants are tall, so space out the rows about 3 to 4 feet apart.
Garden-sown Okra plant requires thinning after the seedlings reach 4 to 6 inches tall. Pinch out the extra plants in each row so the remaining plants are spaced about 12 inches apart. When transplanting indoor-grown plants, space them at the 12-inch spacing and plant them at the same depth they were growing previously. Young Okra plants need about 1 inch of water weekly. Mulching the bed helps conserve moisture and also prevents weed growth.
Indoor germination process for Okra
Starting the Okra seeds indoors gives you a head start on the growing season. You can provide the seeds and seedlings with a better-controlled environment to ensure they receive enough light, moisture, and warmth. Start the seeds indoors 4 to 5 weeks before you will transplant them outdoors so they have time to produce healthy growth. The Okra seeds still require planting at a 1-inch depth. Use small 2- to 3-inch seedling pots and sow only 2 seeds in each. Keep the soil moist and keep temperatures near 75 degrees until the Okra sprouts. After they sprout, the seedlings require 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight and watering when the soil surface dries. Thin each pot to one plant when the second set of plant leaves appears.
Early seedling care for Okra
Water seeds right after planting to moisten the seedbed. During seed germination and early growth, water again whenever the soil starts to dry out. After you thin the seeds, spread a layer of compost around the plants keeping it 1 to 2 inches from the base of the stems. Use about 1/2 pound of compost for each 25-foot row. Okra takes about 50 to 60 days from planting to harvest.
Fertilizing Okra plant
Before Okra planting, use 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 15-5-10 for every 100 square feet of garden area. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the area, and mix it well into the top 3 to 4 inches of soil.
Saving Okra Seeds
Grow Okra plants in full sun in well-drained soil and plant Okra in the spring several weeks after all danger of frost has passed. Though Okra grows with minimal irrigation, watering every week will produce more Okra seed pods. If you’re interested in saving Okra seeds from species in the garden, make sure the plants are isolated from other Okra varieties. Otherwise, your Okra seeds might be hybrids. Okra plant is pollinated by insects. If an insect brings pollen from some other Okra variety to your plants, the Okra seed pods could contain seeds that are hybrids of the two varieties. You can prevent this by growing only one variety of Okra in the garden.
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Paper towel germination of Okra seeds
Paper towels, filter paper or even newspaper provides a good medium for germinating seeds. They are pathogen-free and make it easy to control the moisture content for proper seed germination. Paper towel germination process can be given below;
- Tear a paper towel or filter paper in half and moisten one of the halves.
- You can get the best dampness by fully dipping the towel in water, and then ring it out completely, being careful not to tear the fragile towel.
- Then place seeds on the center of the paper towel. You can add more or less, depending on the size of the planting area. Just keep the seeds towards the middle of the paper towel.
- Place 4 or 5 seeds on half of the paper and fold the other half over the seeds. Blow opens a clear, sandwich size zip-close bag.
- Put the paper with seeds inside and reseal the bag.
- Set the bag anywhere out of direct sunlight that means at room temperature. Then the bag acts like a miniature greenhouse that retains heat and moisture. You must observe seeds sprouting in 5 to 7 days.
- The drawback to the paper towel process is that the delicate, sprouted seeds must be transplanted manually to soil or another moisture-holding medium such as vermiculite. The main root is delicate and not be touched. Then use tweezers on the seed body or the cotyledons when moving them to moist soil.
- Do not push the Okra seed into the soil. Instead, create a hole in the soil for the entire root, hold it in place and push soil gently over it. If the Okra seed is already showing true leaves, make sure those remain above the soil. In a few weeks, the seedlings ready for outdoor planting if the weather has warmed up.
Solving common problems for growing Okra
Okra plant can suffer from several pests and diseases.
Insects – Many insecticides are obtainable at garden centers for homeowner use. Some organic options include sulfur and Bt-based insecticides. Sulfur has fungicidal properties and helps control many diseases. Before using a pesticide, read the label and always follow cautions, warnings, and also directions.
Diseases – Diseases on Okra plants are most severe in cloudy, damp weather. Check the Okra plants daily and treat them with an approved fungicide if diseases appear. Neem oil, sulfur, and other fungicides are available for use and always follow label directions.
Protecting Okra from Pests – Additional steps you can take to protect Okra from pests contain sprinkling diatomaceous earth on the soil around your Okra. Also using organic sprays such as tomato leaf spray, garlic spray, sprays made from dishwashing liquid, and Spinosad. Diatomaceous earth is made of crushed shells that puncture the soft bodies of caterpillars and insects such as aphids as they crawl over it, causing them to become dehydrated and die.
Protecting Okra From Diseases – Good drainage is particularly important for Okra plant because it is vulnerable to powdery mildew, white mold, bacterial spot, Southern blight, vascular wilt, and fusarium wilt. To prevent mildews and molds, avoid getting water on the plant leaves of the plants, and water in the morning to give the leaves and the top layer of soil an option to dry out before night arrives.
Cleaning your gardening tools between uses and maintaining a soil pH of 7.0 also helps prevent the occurrence of soil-borne diseases such as Southern blight, vascular wilt, and fusarium wilt.
Okra plant reaches maturity in 50 to 65 days. The okra plants can produce for about 10 to 12 weeks. It grows and bears seed pods until frost, quickly turns them black color and kills them.
Start harvesting a few days after the Okra plant blooms fade. At that point, the seed pods must be soft and two to three inches long. Pick the seed pods at least every other day, as they quickly turn from tender to tough the bigger they grow. Handle Okra gently and the pods bruise easily.
Remove old seed pods they do not inhibit new pods from developing. For maximum plant yield, prune older limbs beneath the already harvested pods. All Okra plant varieties have spines, so wear gloves when picking the pods. Okra plants will produce large flowers 2 months after planting. The Okra pods will be ready to pick about 3 to 4 days later. Harvest the pods when they are about 3 to 4 inches long. If the Okra plant gets too large, it will be tough and stringy. Okra can be stored 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Okra seed is simply saved for next season by leaving some of the last pods on the plant until they get very large. Remove and allow them to dry. The Okra seeds will shell easily from the pods. And other Okra plant material such as leaves and stems can be put in a compost pile.