Okra seed saving question

p_mac(7)October 15, 2011

Hey, Gang! I may be over-thinking this and it seems it shouldn't be so difficult, but I'm having a hard time saving my cowhorn okra seed.

Being as we have had a very dry, time-challenged summer - I didn't get all my okra cut at the right time so I laid the large, tough ones out on the covered front deck to dry. Last weekend I started opening the pods and almost all the seeds were shriveled up. Just a few that looked "right". Did I leave them too long? Will those still produce? I've got a cookie sheet full of more tough pods and I'd like to do this batch right. Any suggestions? I'll welcome any advice!


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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I've never saved the shriveled seeds, so I can't say for sure that they are not viable, but just that I always have assumed they are not viable. I just save the hard, firm ones. Often, I'll have both hard, firm seeds and wrinkled, shriveled ones in the same pods and I just toss the shriveled ones and keep the others.

I am sure Dorothy, George or Jay or someone else who saves more seed than I do will have the correct answer for you.

My favorite way to save seeds is to cut off dry pepper or okra pods and toss them on the ground. Then, if they sprout next year, I have plants, and if they don't, I have seed in my seed box to plant anyway. That's not a description of "how to" do it, but just an honest description of how I sometimes do it. : )


    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 2:06PM
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This is the first year I have tried to save okra seeds. The first ones I saved were from pods that matured early and turned completly brown on the bush. I still left them for a month on the front porch table before I opened them. They looked fine so I put them in the freezer. Then last month while we were in Calif more pods were left too long (daughter hates to pick okra) and I left them for another month and picked them. They are hard but the seeds are not brown and dry so they are drying now on the porch. So I too hope Jay or George will answer this. I still have four plants with some hard pods so should have some more. These are the Stewart's Zeebest that may have crossed with the Clemson's Spineless and I want to grow them out next year. The first 10 pods were from Stewart's plants that bloomed before the Clemson's did so should be pure.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 3:09PM
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Paula, I think it is not the easiest thing to save seeds from although it looks like it should be. I saved seeds last year and had some mold before they dried. When it was the last chance to get more, I cut the pods with some stalk attached and brought them inside and put them into a jar like you would a bouquet of flowers (no water of course) so they had air all around them and they dried fine. I didn't plant them this year since I was trying Stewart's Zeebest, but last year was cowhorn and I'm sure I have enough for both of us if yours don't work out. I think it should still be good for another year.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 4:08PM
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Sorry I didn't drop in sooner. It's been a barn burner of a day today.

When I've had shriveled seeds it's been because I didn't let the pods mature enough on the plant. This used to happen to me when I picked okra too diligently, not letting any mature until late in the season. So now I always leave a pod or two, on a couple plants, right at the beginning of the season. I also plant my okra in two patches, and let one patch go to seen, starting the end of August.

This year I won't have any new seed. Only got about five plants to grow, and they still haven't produced pods. Am praying for a better year in 2012!

Sometimes that shriveled seed will still germinate. But sometimes it won't. Do a germination test. If it sprouts, then I'd recommend that you store it in the freezer until planting.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:27PM
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George - Eureka! A germination test...DUH! Ok....that's what I need to do with a random few. I've got enuf that I can do that with a teaspoon full (or less) in a coffee filter. (Thank you, Seedmama, for teaching me this method!) That will tell me what I can expect from the remainder. And noted, I'll store them in the freezer.

Carol, you're a smart lady. I didn't think to cut them with some of the stalk to aid in the drying. Again, DUH! I'll try that with any stragler's I get. We're really big okra fans in my house so I need to preserve what I can.

Thank you all!!!!!

NE Soonerville aka Norman

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 11:42PM
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I haven't been around a lot and just saw this thread. Will add my 2 cents. Last year I had several varieties and saved a lot of seeds. I left many of the pods on the stalks till they dried and some opened up. That is where my volunteers this year came from. I still had some pods with shriveled seeds. I saved them along with the full pods just like my Mother always did. The germination was a little lower this summer but was on seeds I bought and also was sent to me. I blame part of that on the weather and part on the fact I didn't pour hot water over any of them and let them set till they cooled off. On one variety every seed I saved last year was shriveled. All of these were from pods that matured and started opening on vines. I saved these seeds in August. The mature pods I opened on these same plants were full and plump so assume those in the pods I saved from were also. Sometimes you never know what causes something. This year I've had lots of tomatoes I wanted to save seeds from that either didn't develop seeds or none of the seeds are fully developed. One variety has been Grandma Suzy's. Even on 12 oz fruit that ripened on the vine. I attribute it all to the weather conditions when a fruit was developing. I feel the same goes for okra. So basically what I do with okra is I let it ripen and mature on the stalk if possible and then save seeds when they are dried and start to open. This year on Stewart's Zeebest I will end up bringing the few pods in the house to finish drying I'm sure. My Mother would let mature pods stay on the stalks and mature even after a light frost and always had good results. When I plant I usually over plant to allow for poor germination. Hope you have good results with the seeds. Jay

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 12:25PM
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By everything I know about it and my experiences with saving okra seeds is that, they must be left on the vine and come away with a dry pod. That usually happens in November or December. Inside you will find some nice sized hard and dark green seeds. I've tried to save green pods before and never had any luck with that. Like someone said they either mold or the seeds shrivel.
Best of luck to everyone,

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 6:09PM
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