Cucumber Growing – A Beginners Guide

Cucumber Growing.
Cucumber Growing.

Cucumber Growing Guide:

The below content explains about Cucumber Growing.

Introduction of Cucumber growing

There are 20 to 25 cucumber species found mostly in Asia and Africa. Cucumbers are consumed as a vegetable but are considered as fruits scientifically. They are vine crops and need poles or trellises for support and to suspend vegetable fruit.The leaves of the plant are large with elongated almost cylindrical fruits that are 10 cm in diameter and 50 to 60 cm in length.

Cucumber grows well in tropical regions; it is believed to be native and originated from India and has been cultivated from 3,000 years back in Western Asia.They come in different colors, from pale green to dark green, orange, yellow. Firm, heavy, and by their skin color are the best indicators to check for ripeness. Overripe tastes bitter, sunken spots, flesh feels mushy and yields to the touch are the general indicators of ripeness in cucumber. There are close to 100 varieties and are generally categorized into three types: slicing, pickling, and seedless or burpless.

  • Slicing Cucumbers are usually straight and long. They are grown for fresh eating. The seeds develop slow, with non-bitter skins and are thin.
  • Burpless cucumbers are almost like slicing cucumbers with no seeds. These cucumbers are grown for fresh eating while they produce a chemical that reduces bitterness while release gas in the stomach when consumed.
  • Pickling Cucumbers are small and stout. The flesh of the cucumber is drier which absorbs the pickled brine when soaked.
  • Specialty Cucumbers are yellow and include varieties like lemon cucumber. They require no pollination to set fruit.

When growing cucumber, a farmer must come to know about these two terms ‘parthenocarpic and gynecoecous’. Some varieties of cucumber are parthenocarpic which means they produce seedless fruits without pollination. They are best grown in greenhouses where they must be free from bees as the quality gets degraded if pollinated. Gynecoecous cucumber varieties produce mostly female flowers, fruits are seeded and they need pollination. Cucumbers can be grown in containers, pots, polyhouse, greenhouse, backyards even on terrace. Commercial cucumber growing is always in demand due regular market requirement. Once can obtain excellent profits in cucumber growing under ideal horticulture growing conditions.

Scientific / Botanical name of Cucumber

This vegetable is commonly called as cucumber. They come from the gourd family Cucuribitaceae and its botanical name is Cucumissativus.

Cucumber in Indian Languages

  • Hindi –खीरा (kheera),
  • Gujarati – કાકડી(Kākaḍī).
  • Malayalam – വെള്ളരിക്ക(vellarikka).
  • Tamil –வெள்ளரி (vellari).
  • Kannada –ಸೌತೆಕಾಯಿ (Sautekāyi).
  • Telugu –దోసకాయ (Dōsakāya).
  • Bangla – শসা(Śasā).
  • Marathi – काकडी(Kākaḍī).
  • Punjabi –  ਖੀਰਾ(Khīrā).

Varieties / Cultivars for Cucumber growing

Ashley is a great heirloom variety. The vegetable fruit is thin, long, light green skin and are excellent to eat fresh, slicing, salads and for juicing. They are ready to harvest by 65 days after transplant, 20 to 24 cm long fruits are best in quality.

  • Straight 8 variety vegetable fruits are thin, long, light green skin and are a delicious heirloom slicer. For best texture and taste the fruits must be harvested when they are 20 to 24 cm in length and usually they are ready for harvesting by 50 to 55 days.
  • Marketmore 76 variety is a disease resistant crop and good for commercial farming. The plant is resistant to cucumber mosaic virus, powdery and downey mildew, scab and grows well in wide variety of weather conditions. This cultivar is a heirloom open pollinated producing fruits of 20 to 24 cm long, dark green skin and will be ready for harvesting by 55 to 60 days after transplanting.
  • Chinese Snake is a burpless, never bitter variety producing 35 to 45 cm long fruits. They are straight sometimes curved shape. The crop will be ready to harvest by 75 days after transplanting.

Climate and Soil requirement for Cucumber growing

Cucumber Growing in Greenhouse.
Cucumber Growing in Greenhouse.

Cucumber grows well in warm season. The plant grows best between 18° to 26° C temperature. The plants are sensitive to light frost. It’s a common kitchen vegetable found in all tropical regions. They grow in soils, almost in all wide variety of soils from sandy loam to clay soils. For healthy growing and best yields they must cultivate in soils which are rich in organic matter or incorporated with farm yard manure and with good drainage. Soils with pH range from 6.5 to 7.5 are ideal for cucumber growing.

Land preparation in growing

Land must be ploughed or tilled thoroughly to break up hard pan or soil clods. If the drainage in soil is poor then incorporate at a depth of 20 to 30 cm decomposed old farm yard manure or any organic matter while tilling. Broadcast lime if the soil requires maintaining soil pH.Cucumbers may be grown on support or in ground culture, raise trellises around plants for support to vines while they grow. Prepare the land by raising beds with 120 cm width and 30 cm gap interval between beds. At the centre of each bed laterals or supports must be placed.

Propagation in Cucumber growing

Propagation can be done both by direct seeding or transplanting. Seed germinates when soil temperatures are around 15° to 32° C and thinning must be conducted after a month when seedlings grow. The germination takes place between 4 to 10 days. It may take longer germination time in colder climates.

Seed Rate and Season in Cucumber growing

For direct seeding two kilogram seed is required for an acre land. Sowing can be done during January to April or June. Seeds must be treated with by any one of the three

  1. Trichodermaviride four grams per kilogram.
  2. Pseudomonas flourescens ten grams per kilogram.
  3. Carbendazim two grams per kilogram.

The seeds that are treated will improve in faster germination and be resistant to certain diseases.

Cucumber Seeds.
Cucumber Seeds.

Sowing and Spacing in Cucumber growing

While in direct seeding, the seeds are sown not beyond one to two centimetre in depth. In trellised fields sow the seeds at the centre of the raised beds along the trellises. For vigorous growing cultivars there must be increased spacing between plants.

Trellising and Pruning in Cucumber growing

Cucumbers are vine plants and need support as they grow. Supports are designed in shape and size to accommodate the plants depending on garden and land space. Trellises are built along the raised bed in a row with a height about five to seven feet and posts spaced at about 10 to 15 feet apart. A thick wire is placed at the bottom and a medium-thick wire is placed on the top. Three to four trips of plastic wires or twine is run across the posts to train vines into the trellis till they reach top wire. The main vine is pruned when it reaches the top wire allowing the more branches to grow downwards and spread across the tresills. Pruning allows the plant to grow vigorously and yields maximum fruit production.

Cucumbers Growing on Trellis.
Cucumbers Growing on Trellis.

Pollination in Cucumber growing

Plants from the gourd (Cucurbitaceae) family grow separate male and female flowers on each plant. Though both flowers have yellow petals and in same size, male flowers have stamens with anthers while female flowers have pistil and look like an immature cucumber. Pollination in monoecious(seeded) cucumbers takes place through insects and honeybees. While in parthenocarpic (seedless) cucumber, fruits are formed without pollination. For each flower to develop as fruit, eight to 10 bee visits are required. Based on this an acre cucumber field must need two to three beehives with 20 to 30 thousand bees per hive are required for pollination.

Irrigation in Cucumber growing

When growing cucumbers soils must be irrigated constantly. One to two inches of water must be supplied at every other day to the crops growing in sandy soils with dry weather. The frequency of irrigation must be upon the type of soils and growing cultivars. Drip irrigation is recommended and an effective method to keep the soil moisture consistent at the root zones.

Manures and Fertilizers in Cucumber growing

Moderate amount of fertilizer is required to grow cucumbers. All vine crops respond well to manure. At the time of soil preparation, 25 to 45 tonnes per hectare of well decomposed farm yard manure must be added to the soil. Depending on the soil test chemical fertilizers must be given. 150kilograms per hectare of Nitrogen, 75 kilogram per hectare of Phosphorous and75 kilogram per hectare of Potassium is required. Half of N,75% of P and 25% of K must be given as a basal dose before sowing of seeds and remaining dose must be given one month after sowing.

Intercultural Operations in Cucumber growing

Two to threehands hoeing and weeding is recommended. Spading, earthing up, etc., at regular intervals are some important intercultural operations. By using registered herbicides as prescribed will keep weed under control.

Pests and Diseases in Cucumber growing

Best pest control program must be taken against insects & pests and diseases as they will rob the vegetable crop profits.

Insects Pests in Cucumber growing :

  • Spider Mite occurs occasionally during hot, dry weather conditions. These tiny mites can cause serious damage to the crop when infected. They live under the leaves and sap all the juices in the leaves turning them bronzed or brown and leaves fall immaturely. They are very tiny insects and live in colonies underside of the leaves with fine webbing. To control spider mites apply appropriate miticide as prescribed.
  • Aphids are tiny insects found beneath the leaves. The leaves turn discolored and wrinkled as these soft-bodied insects feed and suck sap from the leaves. Aphids are winged insects and grow rapidly by reproducing in one week. Infected plants are controlled by a strong spray of water and for serious infestations, insecticidal soap or neem oil must be used.
  • White flies vary in physical aspects such as body shape, wing shape depending on the species. These are small insects covered with snow-white waxy powder and feed on foliage by sucking juices underneath the tender leaves. Some species transmit certain viruses which greatly damage the crop. To control white flies and thrips, spray 1 ml/liter confidor.
  • Cutworms eat young seedlings at ground level and sometimes bore into the heads of mature plants. These caterpillars are soft bodied, dull colored found under the soil level near the base of the plants. Spray with B.thuringiensis or spinosad to control.

Diseases in Cucumber growing :

  • Plants when affected with Mosaic virus, mottling of leaves with raised dark green areas and some distortion of younger leaves is observed. Plants that are severely affected become stunted;leaves curl downward at the margins, dwarfed, and are crinkled. To control the virus select disease resistant cultivars and control aphids and cucumber beetles as they transmit the virus.
  • Powdery Mildew is a fungal disease and one of the most irritating cucumberdiseases and will be high in damp weather conditions. Powdery patches and greyish spots are found on the leaves and new shoots. Mildew invades the insides of the plants and attacks lethally. To control plant resistant cultivars and apply appropriate fungicide as prescribed at the first sign of the disease.
  • Damping off (fungi) affects the germinated seeds or decaying of seeds. Germinated seeds or young seedlings are attacked by fungi on the tender stem at the soil level causing constriction and which leads to seedlings falling down. This will also cause a root rot. To control this fungal attack, seeds must be treated with fungicide before sowing. Soak seedlings that are affected or before transplanting with an appropriate fungicide.

Harvesting in Cucumber growing

Cucumber crop will be ready for harvest by 55 to 65 days depending upon cultivar. The vegetable fruit is manually picked near the stem and snapped but not pulling off the vines. Depending on the cultivar, fruits are picked when they reach the optimum length, color and shape. Harvest fruits regularly two to three times in a week. Fruits of slicers must be harvested while they are immature for their texture and flavor, matured fruits will develop seeds and reduces production of new fruits.

Harvested Cucumbers.
Harvested Cucumbers.

Yield in Cucumber growing

Choosing of cultivar that are suitable to the soil, weather conditions and adopting appropriate farming techniques throughout the production cycle will produce maximum yield. A grower can expect slicing cucumber about 15 to 20 tonnes per hectare and pickling cucumber about 15 to 18 tonnes per hectare.

Marketing in Cucumber growing

Cucumber are marketed in local markets directly or exported by marketing agency. Cucumber can be marketed after reaching suitable market size, shape and color. For good pricing, avoid bruising and harvesting matured fruits. In high temperature Cucumber are susceptible to wilting. While transporting to market care must be taken the trucks are not overloaded, the bottom layer of fruits gets crushed. Cover the produce with sheets to prevent from frosting if the weather is cold while in summer let off the sheets or sprinkle to keep the produce moist preventing from dehydration.Pickling cucumbers can be stored for longer periods by soaking in brine solutions. Cucumbers are stored at 10°°C to 13°C with a relative humidity of at least 95%. The vegetable fruit can be stored from two to four weeks depending on storage conditions.

Tips in Cucumber growing

  1. Plant sapplings where they get full sun light.
  2. Soil must be rich in aged manure or compost.
  3. Nitrogen must be supplied if yellow leaves appear on the plant.
  4. Plants need trellis for support and helpful for easy fruit harvest.
  5. Pruning of main vine will allow more side branches to grow.
  6. Harvesting immature fruits will produce more fruits.

For Growing Cauliflower: Read here.

For Growing Mushrooms: Read here.


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