Okra is by far one of the most lovely, nice and healthy vegetable crops and it is eaten, either raw or cooked. It is always sad and disheartening that this lovely vegetable crop is not normally seen during the dry season, this is due to the fact that almost all the farmers in many countries, especially in Nigeria tends to ignore the cultivation of this vegetable in the dry season and always wait for the rainy season to do it, thereby making it very scare in the no rainy season period. This is why i made out time to teach on how to farm okra in the dry season.

Okra is cultivated in the dry season by having in place a good irrigation system which will supply water frequently to the okra plants and curtailing the level of sunlight.

It is very suprising that the only difference between growing okra in the rainy season and doing the same in the dry season is all about rain fall and few tips, but many farmers tend to ignore it or simply due to the fact that they don’t know how to go about it.

If you are reading this blog post, it means you are serious about getting this information on how to grow okra during the dry season, so that you could supply it during this period and thereby exploit the hidden huge profit which many farmers ignore.

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Here are the step by step instructions to go about okra farming during the dry season.

Get a good farmland

The first step to do this system of okra farming is to get a good site, (farmland) for it.

Unlike the process of growing this vegetable in the rainy season or the normal vegetable farming time for majority of the people.

This one is a little but different, in the case that the same location used for the normal rainy season okra farming might not be suitable at all for this time of farming it, unless you have in place a very good irrigation system that will be supplying water frequently to the farm or you are trying to grow this vegetable crop known as okra in a small way, which am not trying to teach or encourage here!.

So therefore, my definition of a good land here is a land that is located near or closer to a river, stream, lake, water well etc.

Apart from from nearness to water or having in place a good irrigation system, the land should be rich in soil nutrients which should be from 40 pH up, if it’s not, don’t worry as you will still need to improve it with manure and Fertilizer.

The farm land should be free from wind, we all know that during the dry season, there is always wind, so you should beware of it and check if the farm is prone to wind.

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Also check if the farm is prone to excessive amount of sunshine and if it is, don’t locate your okra farm there, although okra plants need sunlight just like every other vegetable, but too much amount of sunshine will do far more harm than good at this period in time, so therefore, the land should have access to sunlight, but in a minimal level.
Sometimes, big trees around the farm might help in this by providing shield or by reducing the level of sunshine on the plants.

Preparing the Farmland

When you have met the demand or instructions i stated above to getting a good land for this period in time for okra cultivation, the next thing to do is to prepare the farm land for the farming.

To prepare the Farmland, at this point in time is very easy, this is because the bush and grasses are now drying or dead, anyway!, just clear the bush and cut down some of the trees, especially the ones right inside the farm.

After clearing the bush, pack the woods and take them away, then leave the leaves inside the farm because they are potential manure.

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After clearing the farm, get organic manures like goat, cow, pig or fowl dung or even compost and spray them on the empty newly cleared farm land.

If the land is hard, because lands are normally hard and dry during this season, after clearing and raking, take good amount of water and spray on the land to soften it for farming and making it easier for the crops to sprout and grow easily.

If compost or animal dungs are poured on the farm land, you need to give it a little time for the organic manures to be fully absorbed by the soil before you start making farm beds.
A period of about a week or 2 weeks should be given before you make any digging and planting in the farm.

After a week or 2, go and make farm beds on the farm!.

Although okra could be grown on a plain land, so any of them, wether farm bed or plain land is good, but i do recommend farm bed if the land is very hard and if there is lesser amount of wind.

If you are making farm beds for it, the beds should be about half a foot or a foot in height and 3 to 4 feet in width.

Dig holes of about 4 to 5 inches on the bed or on the plain land and sow the okra seeds.

Sowing/Planting okra Seeds in Dry Season

After preparing the farm land and getting the okra seeds, the next step is to sow them.

Don’t sow them just like that, you first of all need to pour water into the holes because the land is very hot and any seed planted just like that might rot and be eaten by insects which are usually found in larger number during this period of time.

So before the okra seeds could be planted, pour water in the holes where the seeds are to be sown and also use 10:10:10 Fertilizer, which should help the seeds to germinate easily.

Now sow the okra seeds. the seed should be sown at about 3 to 4 in a single hole and a gap interval of about a foot should be given to the plants so that they could have enough space to grow freely and gain good access to the sunlight and also for easy weeding.

The best months to start this type of farming is during September, October, November and even December.

Building Irrigation for Okra farm in dry Season

Now you have successfully sown your okra seeds, the next step is to build a good irrigation system for the plants.

Like I advised earlier, the best way to get good and steady water supply for the okra plants or okra farm is to site the farm land near a water body.

Now lay a pipe or host all over the farm and channel it to the water body, or get a big water tank and fill it with water or if the farm is small or a garden type, use watering bucket.

No matter the method or type of irrigation system used, the best time to water the farm is 2 times daily, morning and evening when they are still small.

Water them maybe once a day or once every 2 days when they might have grown and matured. But once they have started bearing flowers and their fruits are coming out, it is good to at least water them once a day!.

Applying Fertilizer/Manure

Growing okra plants in the dry season, more especially on a commercial quantity can be very challenging in terms of applying manures and fertilizers, this is due to the fact that the land is very dry and could take more time for the manures applied to dissolve in to the soil and provide nutrients to the crops, no matter the irrigation.

To apply Fertilizer or manures in okra farm land during the dry season, the best way is to start from the beginning, even before the farm land is ploughed and the crops planted!

As I have explained above, apply Fertilizer or organic manures before sowing the okra seeds so that the manure will help improve the soil fertility and grow the plants before you can then apply another manures or Fertilizers.

This vegetable known as okra does well in a loamy soil with a pH of 40 and above, applying manure will help with this even if the soil pH is a bit lower.

When the first manure is applied and the seeds sprout and start growing, which will happen within 2 weeks, give it another 2 or 3 weeks before another round which is the final is applied again.

To apply Fertilizer, take half a tea spoon of Fertilizer, make small holes around the bottom of the plants and put the Fertilizer there, then cover a bit with sand.

For organic manure, just pour them round the bottom of the plants, be it compost or animal dungs and leave them there!.

A cooking spoonful of animal dung is enough for a plant. As for compost, it has no measurement as you can apply any amount you like, for the fact you don’t block the sun from accessing the plants.

Although at this juncture, compost is not a good option as it takes time to decay, before it could be absorbed into the soul because okra takes a short time of about 2 months to mature and have fruits, so applying compost is not that good, unless you are using it as a mulch in the okra farm.

Weeding of Okra Farm in Dry Season

Although weed is not always a problem to okra farm at this period due to the fact that the land is dry and unsuitable for weeds to grow like they do in the rainy season, but they do grow, but in a minimal level.

Once you start irrigating the farm land, some weeds will start sprouting out in less than a month.

When this start happening, they need to be removed for they pose great danger to the okra plants with either infesting them with pests and diseases or competing with them in sucking off the limited water and nutrients which the plants will need to survive on and grow healthy fruits.

To remove the weeds, there are 2 possible methods, it’s either you remove them manually with tools like weeding hoe or you use chemicals like the herbicide to kill them, saving yourself time and labor to weed manually.

After weeding, don’t leave them there, unless you killed them with chemical, dispose them off or leaving them in the farm to dry will make them to germinate again, once they are touched by water.

Mulching

Mulching is highly needed more in this period of time for this type of vegetable.

Although there must be the presence of a good irrigation system, but it is very important and useful to mulch, especially if the sunlight or dryness of the land is too much.

In this case to help the land to retain the little water or effort made through irrigation, the okra farm has to be mulched!.

Like I have explained earlier above, to mulch an okra farm, get a large quantity of green leaves, orther wise known as compost and take them heap by heap around each of the okra plant and leave them there so that they could protect the soil from being dried by the sun heat and also to discourage weeds from growing near the okra plants.

Note – Do not cover the entire okra plants with compost in the name of mulching and blocking them from the sun in totality or they will die!, this can be a very easy mistake to make, especially when the plants are still small and growing.

Control of Pests and Diseases of Okra plants in Dry Season

One major disturbing factor in growing okra vegetable in the dry season is pest and Diseases, may be this is one of the factors that many farmers consider and back away from involving in cultivating okra in the dry season.

Unlike during the rainy season, in dry season, there are all manner of insects and and animals and they pose a great danger to your okra plants if not properly check mated!.

Insects are the greatest threat of this vegetable, even right from the time it is planted.

When the seeds are planted or sown in the ground, insects like ant, soldier and and even anthills have a higher possibility of eating them if not properly take care of or controlled.

Animals like rat is also a great threat to the seeds of okra as they will be eaten or taken by rats if not kept in a proper position.

When they mature and start yielding flowers and fruits, it attracts many types of birds and bees which normally peck at their leaves and flowers.

Pests like caterpillar also pose a great danger as they might finish the whole leaves of the okra crops if left unchecked.

Snail acts as a pest here, although snails don’t normally come out during the dry season, but few will come out in the night once the farmland is being watered regularly.
They will attack the leaves by eating them, thereby making different types of holes on each leave.

To control all these pests, apply pesticides, take great care I’m keeping the seeds, before planting, apply insect resistant Fertilizer on the seeds and also use scarecrows to scare off birds that might try to get into the farm and attack the crops.

Apart from pests, okra has some few diseases or viruses that might be found while growing them, even during the dry season, some of them are:

Okra leaf curl virus: This type of infection normally occur at an early stage of this plant, when this happens,the plant’s entire development is affected and the growth velocity or the entire growth is curtailed.

Damping-off: This diseases cause the seedlings to appear wilted, yellow and even depression. When this happens, it could cost the seeds from germinating.

Powdery mildew of Okra: this disease shows on the leaves, the disease shows on both surfaces on the leaves and can cause the leaves to Wilt and dry.

Harvesting

Harvesting okra in the dry season could be fun and exciting, this is because almost nobody or very few people do cultivate this vegetable in the dry season, it will make you good money.

At about 2 months or closer to 2 months from the day of sowing the okra seeds, they will have fruits ( okra) and the fruits will mature for for harvest.

They are not harvested once because they will keep producing new okra for 2 month or a little more before they could stop and start dying, this means you will keep harvesting them periodically for about 2 months or a little bit more.

To Harvest okra in the dry season is very simple, bend the plants if they are a bit taller than you and cut the okra out with a kitchen knife and place in a basket.

Note – it is very important to harvest them in less than a week of growing out the okra fruits, if not, they will over mature and won’t be good again for cooking or eating.

Also make sure you have your safety cloth because okra have tiny spines that sting a little.

Conclusion

If you follow my steps and instructions, you will not only successfully grow okra in the dry season, but you will also make some good amount of money from it as it is always on a high demand and scarce during this period.

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