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I am attempting to grow okra around Portland, Oregon area, USDA hardiness zone 8b.

I am growing them in a makeshift greenhouse make of some clear plastic tarp over a raised garden bed. This was closed most of the time but I have left it open for the last few weeks due to high temperatures 80-90F+enter image description here I am using miracle grow raised bed soil and have mixed in some chicken manure compostchicken manure compost

I have two plants that are around 6-8 months old (estimate). They appear to healthy however have failed to produce any pods. What happens is: a flower will appear and open, the flower will close and drop off, a small green "nub" will be left behind, then this nub and the stem that is attached to will dry up and turn brown and then fall off the plant.

I found some information about growing orka in my area which says that the night temperatures should be above 55F. I have measured soil temperatures with a temperature logger and the minimum temperature at night it 67F, max temperature during the day has been around 90F recently.

I found a person with what appears to be the same problem in this comment and the responses seem to indicate that there is some problem will pollination? Here is a video showing manual pollination of an okra flower with a q-tip. I attempted this, however I get almost no pollen to stick to the q-tip, so my guess is that the flowers are not producing pollen for some reason.

Here are some more pictures of the plant showing the dying podsenter image description here flower (not fully open here, but I have seen them fully open)enter image description here and my failed attempts at hand pollinationenter image description here enter image description herenote that there really is no powdery pollen as seen in the linked video above.

Screencap from video:enter image description here

If anyone has any idea what could be causing the plant to not produce pods and/or pollen or has any experience with okra I would appreciate any advice as to what to try next. I was thinking at this point I may want to try some soil/pH testing, but I have no experience with this.

Update tried to remove most of the soil from around the plants and replaced it with soil that I had not added any chicken manure to as I think this would remove some of the nitrogen. Did soil testing, pH is around 6.5 and nutrient results: enter image description here

nitrogen    very low
phosphorous medium
potash      high

So, I guess too much nitrogen is definitely not a problem now...because it appears that there is none...oops?

Also, the next few flowers appeared to have a small amount of pollen that I was able to put onto the stigma.enter image description hereenter image description here Still pretty pitiful amount, but better than before which was nothing. Will see if I finally get any pods.

A few days later update: These two flowers with the small amount of pollen appear to be growing pods, finally. However I have observed other flowers blooming after this time that again have no pollen. So there is some problem causing pollen to not be produced.

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Okra is self-pollinating--each flower is both male and female--so you shouldn't need to move pollen between flowers.

However, I'm wondering if that greenhouse is discouraging bees and sheltering the plants from breeze. People sometimes "shake" tomatoes or flick the blossoms to encourage pollination within the flower; you could try that with your okra.

Temperatures in Portland have been in the nineties, which is a bit high for okra. That greenhouse will increase the temperature more. I'm tempted to advise you to remove the plastic altogether, to reduce temperature, give better access to pollinating insects, and eliminate shelter from breeze. On the other hand, you might then promptly get a chilly spell that will take your okra below its preferred temperature.

So maybe just shake the plants/flick the blossoms.

I wouldn't dig up any more soil--the amount of root damage you're likely to do will probably outweigh anything you accomplish.

I'm also seeing fences and buildings that might produce shade--Okra should get at least six hours of sun a day.

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    I'd think the low light levels would be more of a problem than the temperature. I've had okra produce just fine in very hot temperatures (well over 100° F.), and okay in cooler temperatures. This year I have some plants that are shaded part of the day, and they're having a lot more problems with growth and fruiting. Okra is known as a hot-weather crop (more commonly grown in the southern USA, but it'll grow in other areas). One variety I would recommend is Louisiana 16-inch Long Pod. – Shule Aug 17 '18 at 4:11
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    Thanks for the temperature info. There are buildings and a fence but those are all north of the raised bed; the picture of the greenhouse/raised bed was taken from south of it. There is enough distance between it and my house from the south that it gets full sun for most of the day, so I am not sure that light is a problem here. – garbb Aug 18 '18 at 19:52
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Grins! I can't believe you love Ocra. I can't believe I won't give it a chance! Those pods of seeds won't be produced for another month.

If you have used Miracle gro soil make sure it did not come with more nitrogen fertilizer. Ocra, like any plant producing seed that gets too much nitrogen will not set seed, set fruit. It will focus on great leaves and stems, not reproductive growth.

Greenhouses are an entire new chapter for newbie gardeners. You need FANS! Open up the bottom flaps and/or the end pieces to get air flow and reduce the temperatures. This is so critical I am YELLING! Grins!

Do you have a thermometer in that little greenhouse? At 85-90 degrees F, plants stop all photosynthetic factories. When the temperature gets past 90 you cut days of reproductive maturity from your calendar.

When you walk into this greenhouse, you should feel very comfortable or the plants are being harmed. When you walk into your greenhouse, your hair should be flying in the wind! That is how much ventilation you have to have. I see the condensation inside your greenhouse and I know that your plants will soon fail.

Adding high nitrogen compost along with potting soil that has had fertilizer added would definitely account for no flowers, no fruit, no seed. Or few.

  • Thanks! I should have added, and will now edit my post, that I have left the greenhouse open for the last few weeks since it has been so hot. I did not know that temps that high were bad. I actually also tried to remove most of the soil from around the plants and replaced it with soil that I had not added any chicken manure to as I think this would remove some of the nitrogen, however I did not completely get underneath the plants so there might be some still left. Next I will attempt to measure ph and soil nutrient content with some test kits. – garbb Aug 12 '18 at 23:09
  • Sounds very sane, garbb! Don't overwater. Get a couple of big fans in that little greenhouse. Powdery mildew season is right around the corner. This is how we all had to learn believe it or not. On top of education, classes, seminars, books! You are doing the best possible thing, you are learning what happened so you might not have to repeat mistakes. Water by sticking the hose into the soil. This will help lessen the nitrogen leaching into the soil. It will also help with fungus because you aren't blasting spores and water onto your plants. Your hair should be blowing around with fan – stormy Aug 13 '18 at 2:43
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Well I decided to remedy the low nitrogen, so I removed all of the soil around the okra plants and replaced it with chicken manure compost. (I tested the manure compost with the same soil test kit and verified that it has high nitrogen, as expected) and about a week and a half later I have seen around 5 flowers bloom with plenty of pollen in them. okra with pollen And I was able to easily hand-pollinate them. (and yes, I know that I shouldn't have to do this, but I wanted to make sure it worked for now)enter image description here

So I guess low nitrogen was probably the problem?

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