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  • Author or Editor: Yaying Wu x
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We are developing a mechanical harvest system for okra [Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench]. Our objective was to identify a high-density (HD) plant arrangement and a harvest timing that would maximize marketable fruit yield per hectare with a destructive harvest. We compared destructively harvested plants grown at spacings of (in cm) 15 × 15, 23 × 23, and 30 × 30 with hand-harvested plants grown at 90 × 23 cm. Within HD treatments, marketable fruit weight increased inconsistently as plant density increased. The 30 × 30-cm spacing was not dense enough. Branching decreased and the position of the first marketable fruit attachment moved up as plant density increased. Delaying destructive harvest until many over-mature fruit were present often did not increase marketable fruit yield and always reduced the proportion of total harvested fruit weight due to marketable fruit. Overall, percentages of marketable yield obtained by destructive harvests of HD plants were low compared to the cumulative marketable yield from control plants. However, the labor-saving potential was high. A prototype machine for harvest of HD okra has been developed, and further testing is planned.

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Research was conducted to develop a cultural system that would permit a destructive mechanical okra [Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench] harvest. Okra grown at a highly dense (HD) plant population of 25 × 23 cm and destructively harvested by machine was compared with control plants spaced at 90 × 23 cm and repeatedly and non-destructively harvested by hand. The control N fertilization regime was 45 kg·ha-1 of N preplant, followed by one or two topdressings, each with 22 kg·ha-1 of N. Treatments applied to HD plots were designed to be multiples of the control N fertilization levels. Preplant fertilizer was added such that the sum of residual soil N plus the added fertilizer would total to 45, 90, or 135 kg·ha-1 of N for the standard, intermediate, and highest rates, respectively. Topdressing rates were 22, 44, or 66 kg·ha-1 of N for standard, intermediate, and highest, respectively. Topdressing was timed to follow a mechanical harvest of the HD plots. Since there was only one mechanical harvest in the two 1995 studies, topdress N treatments did not affect yields from mechanical harvest in that year. Nitrogen treatments had few effects on fruit yield per hectare of HD okra, even when stem N concentrations equaled or exceeded those of control plants. The highest N rate tended to delay fruit production. Increasing N rates did not affect the marketable fruit yield obtained by mechanical harvest of HD plants expressed as a percentage of the total cumulative marketable fruit yield from control plants. Physiological factors appear to be limiting the potential for densely planted okra in a destructive mechanical harvest system rather than horticultural factors such as N nutrition.

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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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Research was conducted to develop a cultural system that would permit a destructive mechanical okra [Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench] harvest. This paper reports on studies to determine the responses of okra plant architecture to various highly dense (HD) plant populations, and to consider the implications of those responses for destructive mechanical harvest. Growing okra in plant arrangements more densely planted than the control (which was spaced at 90 × 23 cm) did not affect overall plant heights. The position of the first bloom or fruit attachment and of the first marketable fruit attachment tended to become higher on the stem as plant population density increased, especially when comparing plants from the 15 × 15 cm spacing to control plants. The number of marketable fruit per plant was usually unaffected by plant population. Branch number and defruited dry weight per plant decreased as plant population density increased. Plant architecture did not affect the ability of an experimental mechanical harvester to recover marketable fruit from three different okra cultivars grown in a HD arrangement. The lack of concentrated marketable fruit set, rather than plant architecture, was the main limiting factor to the success of densely planted okra for destructive harvest.

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