Okra is a plant that is a part of the Mallow family and is related to the hibiscus and cotton. This plant is popular both as a separate and fried side dish and added into soup. The plants are prolific producers and are easy to care for, though the harvested pods can deteriorate quickly if they are not preserved relatively quickly.
The okra is a plant that is completely green. These plants are ribbed and spineless. The pods have a dark green color and slightly ribbed pods. The Annie Oakley variety has bright green pods and produces okra almost twice as frequently, according to the University of California.
Okra is a plant that thrives in hot weather, after evolving for thousands of years in Africa. This plant has been brought to the southern part of the United States, where this plant is grown commonly as a crop. The soil that okra thrives the most in is well-drained and sandy. Trying to grow okra in soil that has more clay in it is often futile. While these plants can survive well in dry areas, extended dry periods require that the okra be watered.
Okra is an edible vegetable that is often canned, fried, boiled and pickled. This plant is also often used in southern soups and stews. The okra is harvested when the pods of the okra have become tender, but not fully matured. These pods are usually 4 to 6 inches long by this point. According to Iowa State University, pods that are longer than 4 inches usually are very tough and stringy, making them less palatable. Removing these matured pods is recommended because the opened spaces will leave room for more pods to grow. Also, the mature seeds within the matured pods can be stored for planting next year.
One acre of okra usually produces 200 to 250 bushel of okra. A bushel of okra is usually 30 to 35 lbs. Alabama A&M and Auburn University explained that okra has a tendency to deteriorate rapidly after harvested, especially when temperatures are very high. The okra usually must be canned, brined or frozen quickly in order to make sure that most of the okra remains good. At a temperature of 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the okra should last seven to 10 days, with 90 percent to 95 percent humidity being needed in order to prevent the shriveling of okra.
The okra is ready to pick after 55 to 60 days. The pods are harvested by cutting or snapping usually four to six days after flowering.