Densely Planted Okra for Destructive Harvest: I. Effects on Yield

in HortScience

Okra [Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench] was grown at various highly dense (HD) plant populations for destructive harvest, and compared with control plants grown at spacings of 90 × 23 cm and harvested repeatedly by hand. Our objectives were to identify a HD plant arrangement and an optimum harvest timing to maximize marketable fruit yield per hectare with a single destructive harvest, and to evaluate the potential for regrowth of cut plants followed by one or more subsequent harvests. Within HD treatments, marketable fruit weight per hectare tended to increase as the plant population density increased. Spacings of 30 × 30 cm and wider were not dense enough for the destructive harvest system due to a low marketable yield potential. Wide spacings did favor regrowth of cut plants in two experiments, but total marketable yields were still highest with the highest plant populations tested. Delaying destructive harvest until many overmature fruit were present did not consistently affect marketable fruit yield, but always decreased the proportion (by weight) of marketable fruit to total harvested fruit. Overall, percentages of marketable yield obtained by destructive harvests of plots with HD plant populations were low relative to the cumulative marketable yield from control plots. The lack of concentrated fruit set in okra remains a limiting factor for destructive harvest. However, the labor-saving potential of this system should stimulate further research.

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