Okra for Export
Chief Caribbean Producers
Okra should be bright green, firm and free of blemishes, insect and mechanical damage. Very young pods and fully developed pods are of poor flavor or tend to be stringy and fibrous. Regardless of the length, pods that are dull, flaccid and yellowish are inferior, mainly due to a high flare content. Therefore, pods should be selected which are 4 to 9 cm in length (1.5" to 3.5"), green, tender and readily snap at the tip.
Bindi, Clemson Spineless, Annie Oakley.
Okra are highly perishable but with optimum post-harvest handling systems Okra are highly perishable but with optimum post-harvest handling systems, quality is maintained for four to seven days.
Due to the pod size requirements and the rapid rate of growth and development, okra have to be harvested every one or two days to ensure pods are within the size specification range. Okra should not be harvested in the rain or when excessively wet. Pods should be handled with care; rubber gloves should be used during harvesting and handling, amateurs for harvesting, harvesting bags for collection and ventilated field crates for transport prior to packing. On harvesting, approximately 1 cm of stem should remain attached to the pod. Oversize and damaged pods are to be removed from the plant, but out graded in the field. Field crates should be light in velour, ventilated and shallow; when full, crates should be placed in the shade and kept dry. Sacks or bags are not to be used as these incur damage and cause heat build-up. During transport from the field to the packhouse, the held crates should be covered from the elements, but have sufficient ventilation to prevent heat build-up. Due to the perishable nature of okra, harvesting is required on the day, or the day preceding shipment.
Export Grading and Packing
Removal of pods which show discolouration, bruising (blackening of the ridges), chemical residue or insect damage, is required during the grading procedures. All pods meeting the sgrading procedures. All pods meeting the size specifications can be loose packed into cartons (size grading into individual sizes is not required). Okras are graded by hand on moving conveyors or standard grading tables. Conveyor operation is more rapid than standard tables; experienced graders line the conveyor to remove reject pods, while the acceptable ones are allowed to continue and fill directly into the cartons. Net weights are dependent on the importers requirements and vary from 3.5 to 4.5 kg (8 to 10 lbs).
One or two-piece self-locking flbreboard carton; bursting strength 200 to 2501b/in2.
Carton internal dimensions:
Storage and Transportation
Okra exhibit high rates of respiration which can result in the rapid production of heat and subsequent deterioration. Unless okra are rapidly cooled soon after packing, the heat build-up will accentuate spoilage and cause pod blackening. Suitable cooling temperatures are 10ø to 12øC. Okra should not be stored more than 36 hours prior to shipment. sphere possible, aircraft pallets should be used for transport. If aircraft containers are to be used for transport, where ventilation is absent, the okra should be removed from cool storage for two to three hours prior to loading of the container, three hours prior to loading of the container, to allow condensation to evaporate from the pods. If not, prolonged exposure to moisture, increase in pod temperature and high humidity will result in yellowing and blackening of the ridges. Mould will also develop on the cut stem and the pods will collapse.
Okra Size Grades
UK, Holland, Canada
Bindi, Clemson Spineless, Annie Oakley
4 to 9cm (1.5"to3.5")
Fresh, firm, tender tips, free from debris.
Caribbean Market Requirements
All Caribbean Markets: Require small, fresh green okra with tips which snap readily.
Handling in Importing Country
Okra are sensitive to ambient temperatures; both low (in winter) and high (in summer) temperatures during storage and marketing will result in rapid deterioration of the pods. For maximum marketing period, storage temperatures of 10ø to 12øC should be used and the product marketed rapidly. Storage with other freratures of 10ø to 12øC should be used and the product marketed rapidly. Storage with other fruits and vegetables which produce ethylene should be avoided.
Spoilage in Okra