Okra : Hibiscus esculentus L.


Okra is one of the most popular fruit vegetables grown in Wet, Intermediate and Dry zone of Sri Lanka. Presently okra is successfully cultivated in the districts of Hambantota, Kurunagala, Ratnapura and Matale. Also it is expanding in potential districts like Anuradhapura, Puttalam, Matara, Badulla and Moneragala.

The total area under okra cultivation is reported to be 7066 ha producing average yield of 5.3 Mt/ha thus the total annual okra production in Sri Lanka is 37,330 Mt with a per capita availability of 2.0 kg/ha.

The increase in productivity will be targeted basically due to increase in cultivated extent as well as increase in unit yield. It is expected that the annual production in year 2005 will reach 100,050 Mt, increasing the extent 10,005 ha and increasing average yield from 5.5 Mt to 10 Mt/ha.


Recommended Varieties






Fruits - light green, medium size, pyramidal elongated, edged (7-9), stem colour - light to medium anthocyanin pigmentation, upper leaves- deeply lobed, suitable for yala and maha season except yala in the Dry zone


MI -7

Fruits - yellowish green, medium size, pyramidal, elongated, edged (7-9) ,stem colour - medium anthocyanin pigmentation upper leaves - shallowly lobed, suitable for yala season in the Dry zone and both yala and maha season in other regions.



Fruits - dark green, medium size, pyramidal elongated, edged (5-6) , stem - strong anthocyanin pigmentation, upper leaves deeply lobed. Suitable for Island wide cultivation, tolerant to Yellow Vein Mosaic.


Field Establishment

Climatic requirements

The climate is suitable for okra in all agro-climatic regions in the Dry, Intermediate and Wet zone with the exception of the up county Wet zone. In drier parts of the up county okra grows well to elevation of about 1300 m. In Mid county Wet zone Maha rains may restrict plant growth and adversely effects yields.


Well-drained soils with a Ph around neutral are most suitable. Water logging should be avoided

Land preparation
Wet zone
a. Clean the field of weeds
b. Making planting holes 30 x 30 cm and add organic manure at the rate of one basket for four holes
c. If irrigation facilities are available use the ridge and furrow system

Dry zone
a. Plough to a depth of 15 -30 cm followed by one harrowing
b. Make planting holes 30 x 30 cm and add organic manure at the rate of one basket for four
c. Same as wet zone

Seed rate- 4.5 kg seed / ha

Time of planting

Okra is generally planted from late September to early October in maha and April to early may in yala. Avoid planting during heavy rains.

Planting and spacing
a. Space planting holes at 90 x 60 cm as a mono crop
b. Dibbled 3-4 seeds per holes at depth of 1-2 cm. Deeper sowing delays germination
c. Two weeks after sowing, thin to 2 plants /hill. Fill vacancies 1 week after sowing


Economics & Marketing

Cost of Cultivation

General land preparation                  

06 Ld

Lay out

25 Ld


09 Ld


30 Ld



Pest and disease control









150 LDs

Cost of inputs

General land preparation


Seed 4.5 Kg






Irrigation fuel




One labour days Rs 200.00

Cost of labour 150 x 200


Cost of inputs





Yield 10 t/ha
Gate price per kg

- Rs 10.00

Total income 10,000 x 10

- Rs 100,000.00

Net profit

- 100,000 - 57,000 = Rs 43,000

Crop Management

Fertilizer use

Basal - apply the following formulation and rates
Urea - 150 kg/ha
TSP - 200 kg/ha
Muriate of potash - 75 kg/ha

Top dressing - apply 4 weeks after planting
Urea -150 kg/ha
Muriate of potash - 75 kg/ha

Water daily until germination is complete and 3-4 days intervals thereafter

Weed control
Weed 2 and 4 weeks after emergence and at early flowering. Weeding 4 weeks after planting should coincide with fertilizer application.

Pest control
Red cotton bug (Dysdercus cingulatus)

Red-bodied bugs are seen feeding and moving on plants, particularly they crowd on mature pods and damage seeds.
Apply insecticide if the damage is serious only.

Leaf Webber (Sylepta derogata)
Appearance of conical leaf rolls hanging from the leaves. Green caterpillars is seen inside the rolls

Collection and destruction of leaf rolls.

Shoot and fruit borer (Earias vitella)
Drooping shoots and fruits with holes

Collection and destruction of larvae


Powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichara cearum)

Scattered white patches appear on the upper surface of leaves and coalesce to form a powdery coating. Heavily attack leaves dry up and drop off.


Crop rotation
Use a recommended fungicides (Bitertanol, captafol , sulphur, thiophanate methyl

Yellow Vein Mosaic (YVM)

clearing of leaf margins followed by vein chlorosis
Younger leaves develop yellow veins surrounded by dark and light green patches
Fruits are small, distorted and chlorotic
Affected seedlings are stunted resulting in reduced yields

Remove infected plants
Plant disease free seeds
Control weeds (eg : ageratium conyzoides L. Hunlantala in sinhala ) which are alternate hosts for the virus
Adhere to the time of planting, Delay in planting can increase incidence of the disease.

Harvesting & Post-harvest Technology

Under good management 10 - 15 t /ha.
Harvest can begin in 50-55 days and extended to about 100 days Harvest tender pods
Harvest pods every other day to maintain good table quality Pods for export must be 10 - 12 cm long and harvested no oftener than every other day