About the crop
Bhindi (Abelmoschus esculentus L.) is a warm season, annual or perennial
vegetable, growing up to 2 m height. The leaves are 10 to 20 cm long and broad,
and palmately lobed with 5 to 7 lobes. Flowers develop in the leaf axil and are
large, 4 to 8 cm in diameter, with five white to yellow petals, often with a red
or purple spot at the base of each petal. Each flower blooms for only one day and
eventually forms the pod. The pod is a long capsule, 5 to 20 cm long, yellow, red
or green in colour, generally ribbed and fuzzy and contains numerous seeds.
Abelmoschus esculentus, commonly known as okra or lady's finger or bhindi,
is a warm season flowering plant belonging to the family Malvaceae, and cultivated
throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world for its edible green
fruits.The word Abelmoschus is derived from the Arabic "abu-l-mosk"
meaning 'father of musk', referring to the musk-scented seeds and Latin word
"esculentus" meaning 'edible'.
The genus Abelmoschus has its origin in South-East Asia. Even though the
cultivated species Abelmoschus esculentus has been reported from the whole
of tropical Africa, its origin is still uncertain. Egyptians were cultivating bhindi
as early as 12th Century BC. From there, it spread throughout Africa,
the Mediterranean, the Balkans and India. Now, its cultivation is widespread in
tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions, but is particularly popular in
West Africa, India, the Philippines, Thailand and Brazil.
Climate & Soil
Warm humid tropical conditions are ideal for luxurious growth and high yield of
okra. It grows best within a temperature range of 24-27°C and is highly tolerant
to high temperature and drought condition. But, the crop is highly susceptible to
frost injury as severe frost causes damages to the pods. Temperature below 120C
is detrimental to the crop and seeds fail to germinate when temperature falls below
20°C. But, the crop can be successfully grown in rainy season even in heavy
Bhindi can be cultivated in a wide range of soils. However, loose, friable, well
drained loamy and sandy loam soils rich in organic matter are ideal for its growth.
It also gives good yield in heavy soils with good drainage. But the crop cannot
tolerate excessive moisture or poorly aerated soils. A pH range of 6.0-6.8 is considered
as optimum. Alkaline, saline soils and soils with poor drainage are not good for
High yielding variety released from the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU). Attractive,
long, light green fruits. Average fruit length is 27 cm and fruits weigh on an average
28 g. Average yield is 16.2 t/ha.
High yielding variety released from KAU by selection from Kilichundan local.
Pods are light green in colour.
Released from IARI, New Delhi. Suitable for cultivating in summer and rainy season.
Fruits are dark green, smooth with 5 ridges and about 10-12 cm long at the time
of harvest. Crop matures within 50 days from sowing. Average yield is 12-15 t/ha.
Susceptible to yellow vein mosaic virus (YVMV).
Released from IARI, New Delhi. Variety produces light green fruits. Highly susceptible
High yielding variety released from KAU with long red pods. Resistant to YVMV. Average
yield 15.8 t/ha.
High yielding variety released from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. Red
fruited variety suitable for cultivation in Kerala.
Yellow Vein Mosaic
resistant or tolerant: Arka Anamika, Arka Abhay, Susthira, Anjitha,
Manjima(All green fruited)
A high yielding perennial type bhindi released from KAU with average yield of 18
t/ha. It responds well to pruning. Fruits are long and green, 22 cm in length and
weighs 24.5 g on an average. It is resistant to yellow vein mosaic virus and is
recommended for rainfed cropping.
Released from IIHR, Bangalore. Fruits are borne in two flushes. During first flush,
fruits are borne on the main stem 45-50 days after sowing. During second flush,
fruits are borne on short branches, which sprout from the middle portion of the
main stem. Fruits are spineless with 5-6 ridges, delicate aroma and good keeping
quality. Resistant to YVMV. Average yield is 20 t/ha and can be harvested in 130
Released from IIHR, Bangalore. Fruits are green in colour. Resistant to YVMV
Released from PAU, Ludhiana. Suitable for cultivating in spring and summer season.
Fruits are light green, five ridged and of medium length. Susceptible to YVMV.
Released from PAU, Ludhiana. Fruits are quick growing, dark green, hairy, five ridged
and remain tender for a longer period. Matures within 55-60 days after sowing. Tolerant
Released from MKV, Parbhani in Maharashtra. Fruits are medium-long with tender smooth
surface at marketable stage. Fruits have good keeping quality. Average yield is
8.5-11.5 t/ha and mature within 120 days. Tolerant to YVMV.
Propagation & Planting
The ideal planting season for bhindi varies greatly depending upon climate and varieties.
Under Kerala condition, there are three main planting seasons for bhindi viz., February-March,
June-July and October-November.
The seed rate generally varies with germination percentage, spacing and season.
The recommended seed rate for bhindi under Kerala condition is 8.5 kg/ha for the
summer crop sown in February-March and 7 kg/ha for kharif crop. Approximately 30-35
g of seeds are required for cultivating in one cent of land.
Packing of bhindi seeds in polythene cover (700 gauge) increases the storage life
up to 7 months.
Prepare the field by 2-3 ploughing commencing two or three months before
planting to allow organic matter in the soil to break down. Incorporate well-decomposed
FYM @25 t/ha at the time of land preparation. Application of organic manure like
neem cake and poultry manures improves the plant growth and yield and help to reduce
use of fertilizer. Bhindi is sown on ridges or on flat soil. If soil is heavy, sowing
should be done on ridges.
The seeds are soaked in water for 24 hours prior to planting for better and quicker
germination. Soaking seeds in a solution of bavistin @ 0.2% for 6 hours and drying
in shade before sowing is also recommended to reduce the attack of soil born fungus.
For kharif crop, sow the seeds at a spacing of 60 cm between rows and 45 cm between
plants and for summer crop give spacing of 60 x 30 cm. Seeds are to be dibbled at
1-2 cm depth @ 3-4 seeds per holes. Deeper sowing delays germination. As seedlings
require ample water for quicker germination, a pre soaking irrigation 3-4 days before
sowing is beneficial. The seeds germinate in about 4-5 days. Gap filling should
be done one week after sowing and thin the plant population to 2 plants /hill two
weeks after sowing.
Apply FYM or compost as basal dose @ 12 t/ha. At the time of sowing, apply N, P2O5,
and K2O @ 25, 8 and 25 kg/ha. Another 25 kg N per ha may be applied one
month after sowing followed by earthing up operation. Fertilizers are applied by
opening up a deep narrow furrow on one side of each sowing ridge. Generally, nitrogen
fertilizers like urea, calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) and ammonium sulphate are
suitable for this crop. For reclaimed soils of Kuttanad, a fertilizer dose of N:P2O5:K2O
75:5:15 kg/ha is recommended.
Give presowing irrigation, if soil is not moist enough. A light irrigation given
soon after seed sowing ensures good germination. Even though the crop can tolerate
dry soil, moisture stress at fruit setting stage reduces the fruit quality and yield;
and irrigating at regular interval is found to increase yield. So it is better to
irrigate the crop at an interval of 2 to 3 days in summer. Furrow method of irrigation
is best suited for bhindi. In high rainfall areas with rainfall uniformly distributed
throughout the growing season, the crop can be grown as rain fed.
It is necessary to keep the crop weed free during the first 20-25 days of plant
growth. Conduct weeding regularly and earth up rows during rainy season. A total
of 3 to 4 weedings are needed. The first weeding is done when the seedlings are
two weeks old and subsequent weedings are done at an interval of 25 days. Pre emergence
application of basalin 48 EC (1.5 kg a.i./ha) or stomp 30 EC (0.75 kg a.i./ha) followed
by one hand weeding at 20-25 days after sowing is also practiced for controlling
The important pest and diseases of bhindi, their symptom and control measures are
as detailed below.
Small brown caterpillars bore into the top shoot and feeds inside the shoot before
fruit formation. Later on they bore into the fruits and feed within. Affected fruits
become unfit for consumption. The fruit borer incidence is severe in humid conditions
especially after the rainfall.
Control: All the infested fruits
and shoots should be removed regularly and buried deep in the soil. Spray carbaryl
@ 0.15% or neem oil emulsion @ 5%, at intervals of 15 to 20 days. Spraying with
quinalphos 25 EC (2 ml/litre of water) or carbaryl (4 g/litre of water) also effectively
controls the pest. Before spraying all the affected plant parts should be removed.
The root knot nematode enters the roots causing characteristic root knots or galls.
The aerial symptoms consist mainly of stunted plant growth and yellowing of leaves.
Nematode attack in the seedling stage leads to pre and post emergent damage resulting
in reduced crop stand.
Control: Apply sawdust or paddy
husk at 500 g/plant or neem leaves or Eupatorium leaves at 250 g/plant
in basins one week prior to planting and water daily. The effect of this treatment
persists up to 75 days after sowing in summer season. Cultural control methods such
as rotation with non host crops like cereals; fallowing; deep ploughing 2-3 times
in summer months, etc. greatly reduce nematode population in soil. Application of
nemagon (30 litres/ha) with irrigation before sowing protects the seedling in its
early stage of growth. Application of Bacillus macerans or B. circulans
(1.2 x 106 cells per pit) before sowing is recommended for the control
of root knot nematode.
Nymphs and adults of a small, greenish leafhopper suck plant sap from the undersurface
leaves and as a result the leaves curl upwards along the margins and have a burnt
look, which extend over the entire leaf area giving the typical ‘hopper burn’
symptom. The affected plants show a stunted growth. This pest attack is serious
in early stage of the crop.
Control: 4-5 foliar sprays
of dimethoate (0.05%) at an interval of 10 days effectively controls the pest.
Nymphs and adults of mites suck cell sap and whitish grey patches appear on leaves.
Affected leaves become mottled, turn brown and fall. The infestation of mites is
mostly observed during the warm and dry periods of the season.
Control: Spraying with wettable
sulphur 80 WP (2 g/ litre of water) or dicofol 18.5 EC (2.5 ml/litre of water) effectively
control the mites.
Nymphs and adults of a milky white minute fly suck the cell sap from the leaves.
The affected leaves curl and dry. Affected plants show a stunted growth. White flies
are the natural vectors of yellow vein mosaic virus (YMVY) and hence controlling
this pest provides protection against the virus infection also.
Control: 4-5 foliar sprays of dimethoate
(0.05%) at an interval of 10 days effectively controls the whitefly population.
Aphids in large number congregate on tender parts of plant and suck
sap resulting in curling and crinkling of leaves. Ants carry aphids from one plant
Control: Need based application
of insecticides like dimethoate 0.05%. has been recommended. Application of tobacco
decoction also controls the pest effectively.
This is the most important and destructive viral disease in bhindi characterized
by vein clearing and chlorosis of leaves. The yellow network of veins is very conspicuous
and veins and veinlets are thickened. At times, enations or raised structures are
observed on the under surface of infected leaf. Growth of plants infected in the
early stages remain stunted. Fruits of the infected plants exhibit pale yellow colouration;
and are small and deformed with tough texture. The disease infects at all the stages
of crop growth and severely reduces growth and yield. Hence, their control is very
important. White fly (Bemisia tabaci) and leaf hopper (Amrasca biguttula
biguttula) are vectors of this virus.
Control: Clean cultivation practices,
removal and destruction of virus affected plants and planting disease resistant
varieties reduces the disease incidence. Controlling the whitefly population minimizes
the incidence of YVMV. 4-5 foliar sprays of dimethoate (0.05%) or neem oil emulsion
(5%) at an interval of 10 days effectively controls the whitefly population. Use
of resistant varieties like Arka Anamika, Arka Abhay and Susthira, and destruction
of host weeds like Croton sparsiflora and Ageratum sp. are also effective.
Causes death of seedlings before or soon after emergence. Pre emergence infection
results in poor germination, whereas in post emergence infection, the emerged seedlings
develop a lesion at collar region. The tissues beneath the lesion become soft due
to which the seedlings die and collapse which is referred to as "damp off". Cool,
cloudy weather, high humidity, wet and compacted soils, and overcrowding favour
development of damping off.
Control: Excessive irrigation should
be avoided to reduce humidity around the plants. Seed treatment with antagonist
fungal culture of Trichoderma viride (3-4 g/kg of seed) or thiram (2-3
g /kg of seed) and soil drenching with dithane M 45 (0.2%) affords protection against
the disease. The field should be regularly inspected and the disease affected seedlings
should be removed and destroyed.
Initial symptom is temporary wilting, which becomes permanent and progressive later.
Leaves show yellowing, lose turgidity and show drooping symptoms. Eventually, the
plant dies. In older plants, leaves wilt suddenly and vascular bundles in the collar
region become yellow or brown. This disease is caused by a soil borne fungus, which
invades the root system and block water movement. All varieties are susceptible.
Control: No control is available
other than a long rotation. Continuous cultivation of bhindi on the same piece of
land should be avoided. Three sprays of karathane (0.6g/ litre of water) or bavistin
(1g/litre of water) immediately on appearance of initial symptoms at 5-6 days interval
checks the spread of the disease. Leaves of fully grown plants should be thoroughly
drenched during spraying.
The disease appears as small, round, whitish spots on leaves and stems. The spots
enlarge and coalesce rapidly and white powdery mass appears on the upper leaf surface.
Heavily infected leaves become yellow, and later become dry and brown. Extensive
premature defoliation of the older leaves resulting in yield reduction. High humidity
and heavy dew increase the severity of the disease. The disease is found mainly
on older leaves, and young leaves are almost immune. Also, healthy and vigorous
plants are less susceptible compared to plants under nutritional stress.
Control: Follow balanced manuring
and fertilizer application on the basis of standard recommendations. Application
of wettable sulphur (0.2%) or bavistin (0.1%) at one week interval effectively controls
C. malayensis causes brown, irregular spots and C. abelmoschi
causes sooty black angular spots. The affected leaves roll, wilt and fall. The disease
causes severe defoliation during humid seasons.
Control: Since the fungus survives
on the diseased plant material, removal and destruction of diseased plant material
helps to check the spread of the disease. The disease is effectively controlled
by spraying with copper oxychloride (0.3%) or zineb (0.2%) starting from about a
month after sowing and repeating at fortnightly intervals, depending upon the severity
of the disease incidence.
Symptoms appear on the lower surface of the leaf as small, pin-head enations, which
later on become warty and rough textured. Size of the leaf is reduced and become
thick and leathery. The most characteristic symptoms of the disease are twisting
of the main stem and lateral branches along with enations, giving the plant a creeping
appearance. Fruits produced are few and deformed. The natural transmission of the
disease is through whitefly
Control: Removal and destruction
of virus affected plants reduces the disease incidence. Controlling the whitefly
population minimizes the incidence of enation leaf curl also. Giving 4-5 foliar
sprays of dimethoate (0.05%) at an interval of 10 days effectively controls
the whitefly population.
Harvesting & post harvesting operations
The crop starts yielding about 60 days after planting and extends to about 100 days.
Pick tender and immature pods when they are approximately 3-4 inches in length.
Harvest pods on alternate days to maintain good table quality as delay in harvest
increases fibre content. Do not allow old pods to remain on the plant, as it will
reduce production. Under good management 15-20 tonnes of green pods can be harvested
from one hectare. The fruits are to be handled carefully to avoid damage and are
then graded and packed in cartons.
Young immature fruits are an important vegetable, consumed cooked or fried. The
fruits can be conserved by drying, whole or sliced, or by pickling. It can also
be boiled in water to make slimy soups and sauces. In Indian cooking, it is added
to gravy based preparations and is very popular in South India.
Bhindi has many industrial applications also. Bhindi mucilage is used to glaze paper
and has use in confectionery. The bark fibres are locally used for fish lines and
game traps. It is suitable for spinning into rope and for paper and cardboard manufacture.
Roasted bhindi seeds are used as a substitute for coffee.
Bhindi is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, including fiber, vitamin B6 and folic
acid. Bhindi is rich in fibre, both soluble and insoluble. Studies conducted at
University of Wisconsin , Madison, USA has revealed that the soluble fibre present
in okra helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and
helps stabilize blood sugar and binds cholesterol and bile carrying toxic wastes.
Whereas, insoluble fibre helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy by improving