By: Rachel Cohen, Heather Yates, and Tim Motis
Published: 2017-10-04

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Abstract

A comparison trial of okra species and varieties was conducted at the ECHO farm in North Fort Myers (zone 9a/10b), Florida. Thirteen varieties of Abelmoschus esculentum and two varieties of Abelmoschus caillei were evaluated for pod production and taste. Plants were started from seed in trays, with resulting seedlings transplanted to field plots arranged in a randomized complete block design such that each variety was grown/replicated in three plots. Pods were harvested from July through November, 2003. The effect of variety impacted early-/mid- but not late-season pod production.Top-producing varieties during peak pod-producing months, August and September, were Parbhani Kranti, Ever Lucky, Cow Horn and Clemson Spineless. Parbhani Kranti not only yielded well but also ranked highest in taste tests. 

Introduction and purpose

Two African okra species, Abelmoschus esculentum and Abelmoschus caillei, are popular in tropical and temperate climates. Okra produces edible pods for human consumption and seeds for processing into oil and vegetable curd. Okra leaves can be eaten in stews or used as animal fodder. Varieties of okra were compared in sub-tropical Florida conditions to better guide recommendations to ECHO network members.

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Materials and Methods

Fifteen different varieties of okra were evaluated in 2003 at ECHO’s Global Demonstration Farm in Fort Myers, Florida (Zone 9a/10b).

Abelmoschus esculentum: Blonde, Borneo, Burgundy, Cherokee Long, Chubby, Clemson Spineless, Cow Horn, Ever Lucky, Greenie, Kranti-Palestine, Martin’s Long, Parbhani Kranti, Prelude.

Abelmoschus caillei: African, West African

These were varieties of two species of okra, as indicated below: Clemson Spineless was considered a control since many Florida farmers grow it commercially. Each experimental unit  was replicated three times in a randomized complete block design, with each block located on a separate section of the farm. An experimental unit consisted of one row of 16 plants in reps one and two and two rows of eight plants in rep three. 

Plots were established, starting from seeds sown in plug trays in a greenhouse on June 4th. Seedlings were then transplanted into the field on June 26th, 2003. Plants in the field were spaced 46 cm (18 in) apart within each row, with rows spaced 61 cm (2 ft) apart.  

Plants were watered initially by drip irrigation for three weeks (three hours a day, three days a week) after transplanting, after which they were rain fed for the remainder of the trial. Plants received granular slow release fertilizer (8-2-8 N-P-K) and micronutrients at the time of planting. Then 8-2-8 was side dressed once a month at a rate of 1.4 kg per 9.3 m2 (3 lbs per 100 ft2). Orthene was sprayed twice in July 2003 to control grasshoppers. 

Observations were made weekly after transplanting to check for overall plant health and insect damage. Harvest began 18 July and continued through 14 November. At each harvest, pods 6 cm or more in length were picked twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) and weighed. A taste test was conducted in August 2003 of fourteen varieties (West African was not producing the time of the taste test). Okra was fried in cornmeal with salt and oil for the taste test. Each person evaluating the okra selected three most and three least favorites. For each variety, evaluators’ ratings were averaged. 

Results and Discussion

Yield

Prelude and Greenie produced the highest, and statistically similar, number (Table 1) of pods during the month of July. July fruit weights (Table 2), however, did not differ between varieties. 

Table 1. Effect of variety on monthly (July to November) and total number of marketable okra pods. Data are averaged over three replications.

 

Pod number (no./16-plant plot)Z

Variety

July

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Total

African

0 c

4 f

53 c-f

85

55

197 bcd

Blonde

1 bc

42 c-f

40 c-f

58

42

184 bcd

Borneo

4 bc

47 b-e

72 b-e

102

30

256 bcd

Burgundy

6 bc

59 bcd

45 c-f

51

16

178 bcd

Cherokee Long Pod

0 c

11 ef

33 ef

50

23

118 d

Chubby Okra

1 bc

26 def

38 def

56

23

144 cd

Clemson Spineless

5 bc

87 ab

94 bc

86

36

308 bc

Cow Horn

1 bc

71 abc

110 b

98

55

334 ab

Ever Lucky

9 bc

83 abc

120 b

92

17

321 ab

Greenie

18 ab

86 ab

92 bcd

89

59

343 ab

Kranti-Palestine

5 bc

87 ab

111 b

99

21

323 ab

Martin’s Long

0 c

2 f

10 f

69

24

105 d

Parbhani Kranti

10 bc

110 a

175 a

141

46

483 a

Prelude

32 a

103 a

67 b-e

74

28

304 bc

West African

0 c

3 f

27 ef

46

25

101 d

Signif. (P value)Y

0.0462

<0.0001

<0.0001

0.5723

0.7203

0.0032

ZFruit were harvested twice per week (Tues. and Fri.) from 18 July to 14 November

YWithin each column, means separation letters (obtained via Duncan’s Multiple Range Test) are shown if the corresponding P value is 0.05. Any two means in a column are statistically similar if followed by one or more letters in common. Any two means in a column sharing no letters in common are statistically different.

 

Table 2. Effect of variety on the monthly (July to November) and total weight of marketable okra pods. Data are averaged over three replications,

 

Fresh weight (grams/16-plant plot)Z

Variety

July

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Total

African

0

73 d

1182 b-e

1993

1230

4477

Blonde

5

1127 ab

1140 b-e

1394

822

4489

Borneo

63

679 bcd

1206 b-e

1991

504

4423

Burgundy

76

906 abc

761 de

749

193

2685

Cherokee Long Pod

0

222 cd

855 cde

920

387

2384

Chubby Okra

13

664 b-d

1114 b-e

1551

409

3751

Clemson Spineless

82

1564 a

1949 ab

1579

550

5724

Cow Horn

7

1169 ab

1894 abc

1624

828

5523

Ever Lucky

110

1269 ab

2438 a

1624

277

5716

Greenie

302

1420 ab

1592 a-d

1503

853

5670

Kranti-Palestine

40

1132 ab

1668 a-d

1211

238

4289

Martin’s Long

0

69 d

183 e

1555

429

2237

Parbhani Kranti

118

1526 a

2642 a

1979

595

6860

Prelude

479

1660 a

1148 b-e

973

380

4639

West African

0

53 d

508 e

985

553

2100

Signif. (P value)Y

0.0916

0.0005

0.0025

.08137

0.5911

0.1379

ZFruit were harvested twice per week (Tues. and Fri.) from 18 July to 14 November

YWithin each column, means separation letters (obtained via Duncan’s Multiple Range Test) are shown if the corresponding P value is 0.05. Any two means in a column are statistically similar if followed by one or more letters in common. Any two means in a column sharing no letters in common are statistically different.

In general, most pod production occured between August and October, with yields declining in November. Most treatment differences occurred during August and September, at which times Prelude, Parbhani Kranti and Clemson Spineless were among the top producers in terms of fruit weight. Their fruit numbers and weights were matched statistically, during August and/or September, by Burgandy, Cow Horn, Ever Lucky, Greenie, and Kranti-Palestine. August-September Prelude, Burgandy, and Greenie fruit numbers/weights, though similar to top-producing varieties, were also similar to lowest-producing varieties, African, Martin’s Long, and West African.

Variety had no effect on yields in October and November. Thus, none of the varieties showed significant potential for boosting late-season yield in comparison to the control, Clemson Spineless. Sanders (2001) suggests that a late-spring pruning can extend the harvest season.

Variety impacted total-season fruit number but not total-season fruit weight. Total-season fruit numbers were highest and similar with Cow Horn, Ever Lucky, Greenie, Kranti-Palestine, and Prelude. Since total-season fruit weights did not vary between varieties, results suggest that varietal choice has the most potential to impact early and mid-season okra production 

Consumption value

Taste evaluators chose Parbhani Kranti, Cherokee Long, and Martin’s Long, in order of preference, as the best tasting varieties (Table 3). Least favored were African, Clemson Spineless and Blonde.

Table 3. Taste Test Ratings

Variety

Rating (-3 to 3)z

Parbhani Kranti

2.5

Cherokee Long

1.9

Marin’s Long

1.5

Kranti Palestine

1.1

Borneo

1

Everlucky

0.5

Chubby

0

Cowhorn

-1.7

Burgundy

-0.4

Prelude

-1

Greenie

-1.5

Blonde

-1.5

Clemson Spineless

-2.5

African

-3

zAverage rating of okra varieties on scale of -3 to 3 with -3 being the worst and 3 the best tasting. Some varieties had limited number of raters.

Conclusion

Parbhani Kranti, Ever Lucky, Cow Horn, and Clemson Spineless varieties produced steady, consistent and high yields. Based on the results of this trial, these are recommended as optimal varieties for the peak okra season. Parbhani Kranti was highly favorable in both taste and overall production, making it the preferred choice. 

References

Sanders, Douglas C. 2001. Home Garden Okra. Department of Horticultural Science, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, North Carolina State University