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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Lady's fingers, gumbo, bhendi, bamia

Latin Name: Abelmoschus esculentus (Syn. Hibiscus esculentus)

Plant Family: Malvaceae

Close Relatives: Cotton

Uses and Markets: Culinary (e.g. immature fruits used in soups, stews, and stir-fries). Traditional vegetable of West Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and Brazil. 

Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes


Propagation method

Seeds and transplants.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Early spring

Field Seeding Date:

Late spring

Field Transplanting Dates

Late spring

In-row spacing

25-45 cm

Between row spacing

90 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.  Recommendations from New England suggest a broadcast and incorporation of 56kg/ha of nitrogen prior to seeding followed by two 45kg/ha side-dress applications; 3-4 weeks and 6-8 weeks after seeding.   Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained soil

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit

Plastic mulch is beneficial.

Optimal Temperature Range

Prefers a hot climate.

Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive; cold sensitive (fruits).

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

Harvest begins 40 to 50 days after transplanting and continues daily until frost.

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Multiple harvests from the same planting. 

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Harvest required every two days to ensure proper fruit maturity and size, which is very labour intensive. Harvest when fruits are 7 to 12 cm in length depending on variety and market, before fruits become fibrous and more difficult to slice through with a knife. Harvest by cutting the stalk just below the fruit. Remove over-ripe fruits from the plant to ensure continued fruit production.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing:


Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 90-100%

Temperature: 8-10°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 5-10 days

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Aphids, Japanese beetles, two-spotted spider mite, spotted cucumber beetle, striped cucumber beetle, thrips, leafminer, flea beetle, leafhopper, whitefly, and tarnished plant bug

Diseases: Powdery mildew, Botrytis, cercospora leaf spot


Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Stink bugs

Diseases: Damping-off, Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, fruit rot, nematodes


*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: none. This crop is in Crop Group 8-09: Fruiting Vegetables Group and subgroup 8-09B: Pepper/Eggplant Subgroup and subgroup 8-09C: Nonbell Pepper/Eggplant Subgroup.  For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Aphids on okra (Photo credit: Ahmed Bilal, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre)Webbing and speckling from two-spotted spider mites on okra (Photo credit: Ahmed Bilal, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre)Leafminer damage on an okra leaf (Photo credit: Ahmed Bilal, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre)
Additional Notes

Incomplete pollination of okra flowers can cause the plant to abort the fruit, which is often called “pod rot”. In a greenhouse, add pollinators to prevent this from occurring.

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Arulrajah, T. 1972. The effects of photoperiod and temperature on growth and development of okra (Hibiscus esculentus L.). M.Sc. Thesis, University of Guelph.
  2. Bilal, A. and M. Brownbridge. 2011-2012. World crops project. Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, unpublished.
  3. Primomo, V. 2012. Okra variety trials. Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, unpublished.
  4. Tenga, A.Z. and D.P. Ormrod. 1987. Promising okra cultivars for north temperate field production. Department of Horticultural Science, University of Guelph
  1. Cantwell, M. and T. Suslow. 2001. Okra: Recommendations for maintaining postharvest quality.  Perishables Handling #107, University of California, Davis. 
  2. Howell, J (ed.).  2008. New England Vegetable Management Guide.  
  3. Santos, B.M., P.J. Dittmar, S.M. Olson, S.E. Webb, and S. Zhang. 2010. Okra production
    in Florida
    . University of Florida Extension.