A treatise of traditional medicine states that chronic bloody stools, digestive problems, respiratory distress and phlegm, paralytic vulnerability could be cured by consuming lady’s finger. This vegetable cures diabetes and cardiac illness. Its content rich with fibres and proteins can do wonders in providing wellbeing to human beings. With many medicinal properties to its credit the plant is also proved to provide adequate returns to the farmers who cultivate them.
Every crop has its own unique features and seasons suitable for growth. Further, the type of diseases and pest infestation can also vary based on the variety of crops. It is prudent to understand those features and take precautionary measures while cultivating them. The details of information shared by Dr Sendhurkumaran, Head and Professor, Kundrakkudi Agriculture Science Institute, Sivagangai district about the various cultivation practices and techniques in growing lady’s finger are given hereunder.
“Adi month is suitable for the cultivation of this crop. It can be planted from June till August. It can also be planted between February and March. Land with proper drainage and where there is no water lodging is suitable for the crop. It grows well in red soil and sandy red soils. It doesn’t grow well in clay soils and its growth will be moderate in black soil.
Seed selection is important in its cultivation. Seeds resistant to Yellow pathogen disease of the leaf should be chosen. This disease can cause 25 to 40% damage to the crop of lady’s finger; it is also called as bhendi or okra. There are various varieties of it including Madurai-1 and CO-3, and other hybrid varieties such as COBH-1, COBH-3 and CO-4. Besides, there are other potent varieties sold by other private companies.
Madurai-1 variety can provide an average yield of 12 tons per hectare. CO-3 variety can provide an average yield of 15 tons per hectare. The hybrid varieties like COBH-1, COBH-3 and CO-4 can provide an average yield of 22, 25-29 and 25 tons per hectare respectively. It is very essential to choose a specific variety that is suitable for the particular area.
Whatever the source and feature of a seed, it is essential to have them pre-treated. Many of the farmers fail to do seed treatment. Farmers should remember that if the seeds are treated properly before planting many cultivation related challenges could be averted.
If they are country seeds, 8 kg of them are needed for a hectare of land (i.e. 2.47 acres). If they are hybrid seeds then 2.5 kg is enough. One kg of seeds can be mixed thoroughly with 4 gram of Trichogramma viridie or 10 gram of Pseudomonas sp. Then soak those seeds in rice extracted gruel for some time and then air dry them under shade. Before the seeds are fully dried, add 400 gram of Azospirillum in one kg of seeds and then once again dry them under shade. Then collect them for sowing.
Plough the chosen land four to five times. Before the last ploughing, add 25 tons of cow dung compost and 250 kg neem oil cake to the soil and plough it once again. Neem oil cake will destroy the insects that are present in the soil. Further, it will prevent root rotting as well. Then arrange bars based on the resources available. Those who wish to follow drip irrigation can form high raised bunds.
Then ensure the land has adequate moisture and make a small pit on the soil using a stick with two feet spacing between the rows and 1.5 feet distance between the two seeds. To each pit introduce three seeds and cover them with the soil. On the third day of sowing provide life sustaining water to the seeds. This is followed by irrigation weekly once. Till thirty days of sowing each plant will need 2.4 litres of water. After thirty days till harvest, each plant will need 7.2 litres of water. The seeds will start sprouting within a week. They will be well grown after ten days. At this juncture, allow two plants that have grown well and remove the third one. Weeding should be done after 20 days. The field of lady’s finger should be maintained well without any presence of weeds.
The farmers who have been irrigating the crop through drip irrigation should provide Azospirillum and Phosphobacteria weekly once on rotation applying through Venturi, a garden irrigation device. Those who follow canal irrigation can use 300 litres of Jeevamirtham for a hectare of land area on the 10th, 20th and 30th day of planting. Then add one ton of vermicompost for a hectare of land on 30th and 60th day.
The crop will bring out flower between 30 and 35 days after planting. At that time, supply 300 ml of Panchakavya in 10 litres of water. Panchakavya can be used every 15 days after the first thirty days. The leaves of the crop will grow profusely if Panchakavya is supplied regularly. There will be more flowers. After the seven days of flowering the pods will emerge. One and half a day later, the pods will be matured enough for harvesting. If the field is not properly maintained, then it will be two days of interval for harvesting.
The pods should not be harvested when they are too young. Similarly, the overly matured pods should also be not harvested. If the very young and tender pods are harvested, the crops that could provide yield for 100 days will stop yielding within 80 days. Pods that are hanging 3 to 4 inches above the crown are suitable for harvesting.
The pods cannot be stored under refrigerated condition. They will shrink if they are cold stored. If there is no other way to store except cold storage, then it is better to maintain the temperature about 10 degrees C with 90-95% relative humidity. If the temperature goes below 7 degrees C, then the pods will become black.
Pests …. be cautious!
There are many pests that are common to the crop such as sucking pests, aphids, hoppers, white flies and red insects. The dorsal side leaf of the crop gets shrunk due to the attack of aphids and its margins will become folded and hanging. If there are hoppers, then the leaves will become yellow and then turn brown. The leaves will look as if burnt by fire. To control both these pests, 5% neem seed extract can be sprayed on the crop. Twenty days after planting, it can be sprayed on every 25 days, regularly, till the end of cultivation. Yellow cards can be fixed across the field randomly.
Other major pest that affects the crop is white fly. It will spread a kind of viral pathogen. Its other name is ‘Yellow Leaf Rib Pathogenic Disease’. The leaves of the affected plant will become yellow completely. This is the disease that most of the bhendi farmers face. This will yield to excessive loss of yield. This is because the plant will not grow as the leaves turning yellow, unable to carry out photosynthesis due to lack of chlorophyll. This leads to lack of food for the plant. There is no treatment discovered so far to treat this disease. But the white flies that act as vector and transmit the virus can be controlled by spraying neem extract. With twenty days’ interval, 5% neem seed extract can be sprayed regularly on the plant so as to control aphids, hoppers and white flies. It can also be planned in such a way to sow the hybrid seeds resistant to the yellow disease so that there is no loss due to the disease. The plant will have more chlorophyll especially during flowering and pod emerging season. And that is the time when the white flies attack the plants. These flies are found generally on the weed plants. Therefore, it is recommended to ensure there are no weeds at this particular time of flowering and pod emergence.
There will be pod worms in the crop too. The pods that are affected by the worms will curl and become half circle like. There will also be holes in the pods. The parent insect will lay eggs on the ribs of the leaves and tender pods emerging from the flowers.
The worms emerging out of the eggs, bore in to the stem of the crop and eat away the fleshy portion inside the pod, including the seeds. The same worm is termed either as stem worm or pod worm. The parent insect can be controlled used pheromone traps. There can be 12 pheromone traps fixed in a hectare of land. The Trichogramma gylanic egg parasite can also be tied in the field. Maize can be planted on the bunds of the bhendi crop field so that the insects can be brought under control.
Diseases … Be careful!
We have already learnt about the major disease that affects the bhendi crop, Yellow Leaf Rib Pathogenic Disease. Another disease that affects the crop is ‘Leaf Ash Disease’. The leaves affected by the disease will become white. It affects the plant during winter. Aqueous Trichogramma viridie or Pseudomonas can be sprayed on the crop to control the disease.
Other than these, integrated pest and disease management practices can be followed to ensure more yield. Seed treatment is the primary step towards successful integrated pest and disease management. Therefore, seed treatment, providing neem oil cake before planting, weeding out the field, growing bund crops to protect the major crop in the field, using pheromone traps and leaf yellow cards can be followed to ensure the best yielding of the crop.
For contact, Dr Sendhurkumaran, Cell Phone: 94438 69408
Lady’s finger enhances memory
The pod is enriched with fibre and protein that are essential for our body. The proteins found in other vegetables cannot be directly assimilated by our body. But the protein present in lady’s finger can easily be directly assimilated by our body. It is told that memory will enhance if lady’s finger is consumed regularly. In terms of science also it is true as the protein, enriched fibre and phosphorous present in the vegetable have the ability to enhance one’s memory power.
Therefore, it is stated to have memory enhancing capacity based on the nutrients present in it. As the vegetable has the ability to remove bad cholesterol in the body, it is possible to avert heart related diseases by consuming the vegetables regularly. Similarly, this vegetable can induce beta cells in our body, therefore, it is possible to reduce the chances of one getting diabetes if it is consumed regularly.
It should not be consumed if the vegetable is too much matured as the content of nutrients such as protein, enriched fibre and phosphorous will be lesser in those over grown pods. So, we will not be able to get all the useful nutrients we intend to have through this vegetable. Hence, young and tender lady’s fingers are good source of those nutrients that we should consume. In the overgrown vegetable these nutrients get accumulated in the seeds.
The seeds of this vegetable can be collected, air dried under shade, ground to powder and it can be prepared like coffee and be consumed. This can relieve one from urinary irritation and dehydration. It prevents prostate related problems and also cures constipation.
Lady’s finger based facial
The native of lady’s finger is Ethiopia and it is the much preferred food in that country. Cleopatra, one of the most beautiful women in the world too was fond of this vegetable.
As it has sticky characteristic, it is used for facial. The Ethiopians use the facial in order to remove black dots and boils on the face.
(This article written by R Kumaresan in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan magazine dt 10/8/18 and 25/8/18 issue has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)