I became a man because of a farmer's hand and I know that I will become a great man because of a farmer's wisdom.
Early this year I planted around 3000 okra seeds in my garden and luckily 2800 of the seeds have survived. I was so delighted watching my okra growing especially when time came that my garden turned into a bed of flowers.
Okra is one of those great vegetable plants that will give you both food and a therapeutic scenery within a garden. As okra flower develops further, it will then become a healthy pod -a proven great vegetable to be included in the menu.
Four months after I started harvesting my okra, I decided to prepare my garden for clearing purposes. At this stage my okra definitely has served its purpose, it gave me not only delicious pods but also an extra income for that matter.
After clearing my garden, I couldn't help but miss my lovely okra, hence, I decided to plant again for the second successive time. Like its predecessor, it was a smooth green variety and a very hardy plant.
Like what happened to the early batch, the new group of okra displayed its fantastic white flowers and covered the entire garden as it blooms. "Soon, I will be eating again a whole bunch of fresh and healthy okra pods", I told myself.
Until the day came when I noticed that the leaves of my okra appeared to be abnormal, leaves were rolled and starting to wilt and I know that it was a leaf spot disease (Cercospora abelmoschi). It is a warm weather disease affecting a considerable percentage of my okra population. It is brought by an aggressive fungus that facilitates wilting and abscises in okra plants.
Because I don't want to use any synthetic fungicide for my garden, I decided to uproot all infected okra and have them burned to prevent the disease from spreading.
Leaf spot disease of okra is common in the Philippines, most especially on the island of Mindanao. Listed below are among the known disease pathogens of okra (lady-finger).
DAMPING OFF (Pythium sp., Rhizoctonia sp.). It is usually the result of high seeding rate per area and planting against the season, meaning planting okra when the soil is too cold.
SOUTHERN BLIGHT (Sclerotium rolfsii). The fungus infects usually the root and stem of the okra and as it progresses, will result to wilting. Warm and humid weather is the favorite of this disease carrying fungus and if treatment is not made in the soonest possible time, it has the potential to explode in the field centers. Indication of infection includes coarse white fungal mat and can often be observed at the soil line.
WHITE MOLD (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum). This is a disease of okra when exposed to severe wet condition. Indication of the pathogen include: the presence of small, black resting structures (sclerotia) and a cottony, white mass (mycelium). Sclerotia, are the source of inoculum and are able to survive between crop cycles.
POWDERY MILDEW (Oidium asteris-punicei). Usually occurring during warm and dry season. The fungus coats the upper and lower leaf surfaces with a white mycelium. Severe infection will cause the leaves to roll upward and scorch
BLOSSOM BLIGHT/WET ROT (Choanephora cucurbitarum). Target of infection includes both young and old blossoms, young fruit, and wounded leaf tissues. As a result, newly opened blooms will split and collapse and affected parts will often soften and fall to the ground.
It is therefore highly recommended, especially for those like me advocating organic gardening, that when planting okra we should consider the:
1. Planting Season
2. Weather and Soil Condition and
3. The need of crop rotation.