In a study, Angelou Toledo Calope, a scholar at the De La Salle Araneta University in Salikneta Farm, Upper Ciudad
Real, City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, determined that ratooned mature okra plants fertilized with vermicompost and supplemented with a foliar fertilizer through different methods and rates of application can make mature okra (Abelmoscus esculentus L.) plants productive again.
Ratooning is a method that involves pruning the plants several inches above the soil line to encourage new growth, reinvigorated flowering, and pod production.
Results of the study revealed that the application of Amino Plus Foliar Fertilizer, either through foliar spraying or soil drenching, supplemented vermicompost and induced flowering within 21 days after ratooning or cutting of mature but unproductive okra plants. Likewise, ratooned okra plants significantly produced the highest marketable yield per plot.
In his study, Calope used a single factor experiment with five treatments and three replications arranged in Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) in an area of about 50 square meters of land that was previously planted with okra.
The area was divided into five rows of 10-meter (m) lengths with .50-m distances in between rows. Each row was further subdivided into three rows of three meters length with 0.50m distances between rows to serve as blocks. Also, each row consisted of 10 experimental plants with a 30-centimeter (cm) planting distance between hills.
Calope used six-month-old okra plants in his study. The mature okra plants were pruned to about 20-cm from the soil base using pruning shears.
After the experimental plants were pruned, they were randomly arranged into 15 plots. Each plot had 10 ratooned okra plants, and each plot was assigned a different treatment schedule.
Right after pruning, each experimental plot was applied with 10 kilograms of vermicompost, an amount which was computed from a recommended rate. The organic fertilizer was incorporated into the plant by hoeing during hilling up.
Some two weeks after pruning, Calope used Amino Plus Foliar Fertilizer to supplement the vermicompost by foliar spraying and soil drenching methods following the rate of 1 tablespoon and 2 tablespoons per liter of water, respectively. Succeeding applications of Amino Plus Foliar Fertilizer following the recommended methods and rates of application were done at intervals of every seven days for the three-month production period of ratooned okra.
After the ratooned plants became productive and started to bear fruit, harvesting was done daily, usually during the morning or late afternoon to prevent the fruits from suffering from water stress.
This continued for three months during the production period. The harvested fruits were sorted to separate the marketable from the non-marketable yield per plot.
Calope says that based on statistical analysis, the treatment he used on his ratooned okra plants showed significant results: ratooned plants treated with Amino Plus Foliar Fertilizer as supplement to vermicompost produced flowers after 21 days.
This is three days earlier than the other ratooned okra plants, which were treated with plain vermicompost, which flowered after 24 days.
According to Dr. Ped S. Nitural, a professor of the De La Salle Araneta University, the results clearly indicate that the simultaneous flowering of ratooned okra plants might be due to the additional nutrients provided by Amino Plus Foliar Fertilizer to the nutrients available from the vermicompost.
He says it is probable that the additional NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) from the application of Amino Plus influenced the normal vegetative shoot apex, transforming into reproductive growth to become a terminal inflorescense. Early flower formation was noted from the ratooned okra plants that were fertilized with vermicompost and supplemented with Amino Plus.
For his part, Calope says that the important role of microorganisms present in both vermicompost and Amino Plus Foliar Fertilizer favored the production of more assimilated macronutrients, particularly nitrogen and phophorus.
Adding that the micronutrients, which contributed to the proper nutrition of the experimental plants, resulted in the production of longer and bigger fruits that were harvested from the ratooned okra plants.
Higher marketable fruit yield, at 2.78 kilograms from the average yield of 2.99 kilograms per plot, was recorded during the conduct of Calope’s study.
Based on the study he conducted, Calope says that this is his modest contribution to the agriculture sector. According to Calope, ratooning of unproductive and mature okra plants can induce it to become productive for at least two more months. This, of course, can only be attained through the application of vermicompost supplemented by Amino Plus Foliar Fertilizer.
Calope says that this treatment combination is recommended to vegetable growers who will practice the ratooning of unproductive and mature okra plants.