An All-American Selections Winner in 1939, this variety was introduced by Clemson University. This heirloom has been the finest open-pollinated variety available since then and is incredibly easy to grow. Vigorous plants, deep green in color, grow 3 – 5 ft. tall. Okra has prickly stems and large maple-like leaves and large, yellow, hibiscus-like flowers with red or purplish centers. Mature pods contain buckshot-like seeds. These spineless pods are not a bother to pick and are best harvested when 3 - 5 in. in length or they can turn woody. Keep the plants well picked for higher yields. Interestingly enough, okra is a member of the Malvaceae or mallow family; other members of this family are cacao and cotton.
This variety is perfect for canning, pickling or serving up the old fashion way. In the south, we enjoy adding to stewed tomatoes over rice just like granny did. This annual seed has a very long growing season thru the spring and well into summer. Optimal soil temperature for germinating seed is 75 - 85 degrees fahrenheit. Okra is very frost sensitive and should not be planted outside until all frost danger has passed and the soil is a minimum of 75 degrees fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures should be 65 - 70 degrees fahrenheit or warmer before germination will occur. Grow okra in full sun for best yield. If planting rows, please set plants at least 20 - 24 in. apart.
Planting and Spacing
Sow okra seeds 1/2 to 1 in. deep set 6 in. apart. Space rows 24 to 36 in. apart. Thin successful seedlings from 12 to 18 inches apart.
Plant okra in full sun. Okra grows best in loose, well-drained soil, and prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting and gypsum to soil that is slow draining.
Watering and Fertilizing
Keep okra evenly moist until established. Established plants can be kept on the dry side; stems rot easily in wet or cold conditions. Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting and again at midseason. Add gypsum if the soil is slow draining.
Okra is somewhat susceptible to verticillium and fusarium wilt which will cause plants to suddenly wilt, dry up, and die, usually in midsummer just as plants begin to produce.
Pick pods when they are 3 to 5 in. long; they will be less gluey. Harvest pods at least every other day once flower petals fall and pods set; if pods ripen the plant will stop producing. Okra is ready for harvest 50 to 65 days after planting. Wear gloves when harvesting okra to prevent potential skin irritation from prickles on pods. Okra will produce for a year if old pods do not remain on the plant or the plant is not killed by frost.
Okra will stop producing if not picked continuously; if seeds are allowed to mature the plant will slow or stop its production of pods. Pods must be picked before seeds mature.