Okra is grown in warm climates, and you can harvest the okra pods right after flowering. Okra prefers hot summer weather and a lot of sunshine to make the best produce.
If it is harvesting time, do not wait too long, as the fruits can become hard. If you are at least trying to get a head start, you can look for flower buds about 45 days after planting okra.
Although it is challenging to know the best time to harvest the pods, the detailed guide below will help you understand when to pick okra.
Do You Know When to Pick Okra
Measure the Length Of The Fire After Flowering
The most crucial factor in okra harvesting is the seed pod’s size. The younger and shorter the pod, the softer it is. It is best to pick the fruits while they are still immature and tender. The plant does not tolerate frost and only grows in areas with 65 days of summer without ice.
In temperate climates, plants produce well in late summer, when temperatures are higher, as plants need temperatures around 85 degrees Fahrenheit or above for optimal production. Planting okra near a sunny fence or wall can help the fruit ripen in more excellent areas.
Please measure the length of the pods after flowering when they start forming. When the fruits are ready for harvest, the ideal time is 5 to 10 centimeters in length. You can pick them if they are shorter, but it is ineffective.
In temperate summers, it may not reach 4 inches in total length before they need picking. If you wait too long for the harvest, the fruits will be a few centimeters long, hard, rigid, and almost not edible. If left alone, the okra fruits will grow at least 30 cm.
However, some plants can stop blooming in the summer. When this happens, cut the plant so that the stem is 15 to 30 centimeters long, water, and fertilize to stimulate new growth. Many people call this process ratooning.
The okra flower looks like the flower of hibiscus and, immediately after flowering, the pods begin growing. Rotten pods are also a widespread problem with okra. Adequate sunlight and adequate spacing between plants will minimize this problem.
Sixty to Seventy Days After Sowing
After planting, you can start harvesting most varieties of okra in around 60-70 days. As the fruits ripen, the plant may stop generating more flowers and fruits. With proper care, you will eventually enjoy fresh okra for up to 12 weeks.
The vegetables of the okra plant are the immature pods of the plant. The mature okra is about 2-3 cm long in bright colors, and the fruits are purple or green, depending on the variety. The okra pod is ripe and ready for harvest about five days after flowering.
During the okra harvesting period, make sure you check whether it is ripe every two or three days. It ensures you pick pods when the tenderness is optimum and encourages the plant to produce more pods.
More extensive, more mature, and lighter seed pods tend to be more rigid and more fibrous, making them less ideal for consumption or cooking.
You can choose okra pods from the plant, but we do not recommend this practice. This practice can damage the plant and cause burns and itchy skin in some people.
Instead, put on gloves and use scissors to cut the fruits of the plant. Leave part of the stem on attachment to the seed pods. Okra fruits mature fast, and if you do not pick them in time, they will become hard and woody.
Mature pods approximately two inches long are not safe for human consumption, but you can store these pieces’ seeds for future planting. Regular harvesting encourages the plant to produce more pods.
There are a few reasons to prune okra plants after harvesting the pods, as regular picking and pruning encourage production continuation. However, pruning will make okra plants grow like a shrub instead of a stem, making it difficult to collect the pieces.
Like individual okra flowers that open at the plant’s root at different times and rise, the fruits ripen in the same pattern.
Keep Looking for Suitable New Pods
Look for suitable new fruits every two days until the plant stops producing. The plant that prevents the ripening of the pods limits the production of okra, requiring a harvest. The more okra you collect, the more the plant will produce.
When the plant’s output is optimum, it is best to harvest every 2-3 days. During the season, okra pods develop fast and turn into large sizes in a few days.
Production of the okra plant generally continues throughout the growing season, as long as you continue to harvest the okra pods.
You can store okra in the freezer for up to nine months. Production will eventually decrease in cold weather or when harvesting stops.
You may feel about leaving fruits on the plants to see their full size, but don’t do that unless you plan to use them in flower arrangements or dry them for seeds.
The more they grow, the more resistant they are and unsuitable for consumption. The pods become woody, the tips stronger, and the stems more challenging to cut.
If you want to leave the fruit in a floral arrangement, make sure you leave a generous length of the stem, tie the stems together, wrap them with thread and hang them upside down to dry in a cool, dry place.
Harvest Okra Seeds
If you are growing okra in the garden, harvesting okra seeds is an easy and inexpensive way to get seeds for your garden next year. When harvesting okra seeds depends on whether you are planting okra intending to eat or harvest the seeds.
The okra plant blooms a few months after planting and then forms seed pods. If you want to harvest okra seeds, wait a little longer and let the okra pod grow as long as possible. The vine pieces must dry and start to crack to harvest okra seeds.
At this point, you can remove the parts and split or twist them. The seeds come out quickly, so keep the bowl right at hand. Since the kernels do not have any fresh leaves or plant material, they do not need washing.
Instead, dry the seeds outdoors for a few days. Once completely dry, place the seeds in an airtight container and refrigerate. Even though some okra seeds can remain viable for several years, many do not.
It is best to use okra seeds that you collect for the next growing season. To get the best results from germinating okra seeds, soak them in water for several days before planting or place them in the freezer overnight before planting them to bring down the wall.
You can keep okra in the fridge, or you can freeze after picking or prepare it for long-term storage right after harvest, as the okra degrades quickly.
If you are not sure if you want to store longer seed pods, clean them in the kitchen, then cut them open using a sharp knife.
If pods are easy to snap or cut, they are still good, but you should use them in a day or two. If they are difficult to cut, they are excessively mature, and you need to add them to the compost.