How to Harvest and Store Okra

Okra pods on plant 1

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Harvest okra when pods are 1 to 4 inches long. Pods are ready for harvest about 60 days after sowing. 

Okra, sometimes called gumbo, is a summer and fall crop. Okra flowers bloom for just one day and pods are ready for picking two or three days later.

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Okra harvest
Okra ready for harvest

When to harvest okra

  • Harvest okra when the pods are 1 to 4 inches long. Pods should be soft and the seed should be only half-grown.
  • The more you pick okra the more you’ll get. When picked often, okra will keep producing until the first frost.
  • Flowers and pods first appear at the base of the plant and then keep producing upward. Okra can easily grow from 4 to 6 feet tall or taller in warm, long-summer regions. In late summer, cut the tops of tall plants back by one-third and new buds and pods will appear along the main stem to produce a late-season crop.
Okra pods
Okra should be harvested “cut-and-come-again”—that means pick pods every other day.

How to harvest okra

  • Harvest okra pods using garden pruners or scissors leaving a short stub attached to the fruit. Contact with the stiff hairs on okra leaves can cause some people to itch; wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when you pick okra.
  • Okra should be harvested “cut-and-come-again”—that means pick pods every other day so that you get pods when they are tender and taste best. Don’t let mature pods stay on the plant; they will become stringy and bitter, and—like summer squash—the plant will stop producing.
Okra pods sliced
Use pods immediately or they will begin to lose quality and flavor.

How to store okra

  • Okra tastes best the day you pick it. Use pods immediately or they will begin to lose quality and flavor.
  • Okra does not store well, but if you must keep okra for more than a day or two, store pods in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator.
  • Pods refrigerated for more than a day or two often suffer chilling injuries and turn black.

Also of interest:

How to Plant and Grow Okra

Okra Seed Starting Tips

How to Harvest and Store Okra

Seven Ways to Cook and Serve Okra

Okra Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Garden Planning Books at Amazon:

More harvest tips:

Learn when and how to harvest your favorite vegetables for the best flavor and texture. Get storage tips for each crop. Click on the vegetable you are growing below.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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