Cranfield okra may be world record size

Published 1:50 am Monday, November 2, 2009

CRANFIELD — This year, David Saulters grew the biggest okra he’s ever seen.

It was big enough that his brother called Adams County Extension Service Director David Carter to find out if it was a record.

Friday afternoon, Carter went out to Saulters’ place to measure the okra plant, and the first measurement — at the base — seemed to lean in that direction at 11.5 inches around.

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The world record okra stalk is 10 inches.

Looking at the stalk base, Carter turned to Saulters and said, “You’ve nearly got firewood here.”

Unfortunately for Saulters, the stalk fell far short of the 19.5-foot height of the record okra stalk, reaching approximately 12.5 feet in the air.

Carter said he doesn’t know if the plant could compete for some kind of regional record because Mississippi doesn’t keep plant records.

He also said it is much more common for record vegetables to be grown in the Midwest than in the south.

“That long, dry heat we get in the middle of the summer really slows down the growth,” he said.

Carter told Saulters he would send the information to the Mississippi Bureau of Plant Industry so the information would be on record if the state starts to keep records.

Saulters said he has already started drying the okra seedpods — some of them almost 15 inches long — for next years’ crop.

Carter said planting the seeds from the large plants, and then planting the seeds from their largest offspring, could eventually result in taller, closer-to-record okra.

As for this year’s larger than average crop, Saulters said he didn’t do anything special to it, starting with a basic 13-13-13 mix and lime in the soil and planting the seeds on Good Friday.

“When they got 12 to 18 inches tall, I hit them with ammonia nitrate,” he said.

“I’m just growing my crop.”