Okra, postharvest practices tips

Fruits should be taken care of even before harvest time. Maintain soil fertility by applying ample organic fertilizers. Spray appropriate pesticides to drive away damaging pest. Use natural insecticides as much as possible. Some importers are very strict regarding residues.

Okra are sensitive. Handle it with care every time all the time. Rough handling such as speed picking and drop cause bruises and rapid spoilage.

Fruits are expected about two months after sowing. When flower emerged, fruits are gathered after four to six days or if the size is  2.5 to 3.5 inches long.

Harvesting is not done during rainy days. Wet condition attracts spoilage microorganisms. During rainy days, air dry them immediately after harvest. Arrange in slotted trays and place on front of electric fan.

Pack in perforated plastic then in thick perforated carton. Perforations prevents moisture built up due to respiration. Thick carton protects it from external damage.

All harvest should be cooled immediately to slow down rapid respiration rate. Store at dry clean room with temperature of 10ºC and relative humidity of 90 to 95%. Any deviation may shorten the expected shelf life of seven to ten days. Transport vehicle should have the same temperature.

Harvest the fruit everyday or every two days. This practice maintains required size and maturity. Okra is best eaten when still immature, soft and succulent. Let the hardened fruit to reach full maturity. They gonna be source of seeds for the next planting season.

Do not discard bruised and insect-damaged fruits. They can be sold for much lower price, processed as commercial product or chopped and sold together with ready to cook vegetable mix.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

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