The cucumber responds like a semitropical plant. It grows best under conditions of high temperature, humidity, and light intensity and with an uninterrupted supply of water and nutrients. Under favorable and stable environmental and nutritional conditions and when pests are under control, the plants grow rapidly and produce heavily. The main stem, laterals, and tendrils grow fast.
They need training along vertical wires to maintain an optimal canopy that intercepts maximum light and allows sufficient air movement. Under optimal conditions, more fruit may initially develop from the axil of 4 each leaf than can later be supported to full size, so fruit may need thinning. Plants allowed to bear too much fruit become exhausted, abort fruit, and fluctuate widely in productivity over time. Excessive plant vigor is indicated by: rapid growth, thick and brittle stems, large leaves, long tendrils, deep green foliage, profusion of fruit, and large, deep yellow flowers.
Below are some of the varieties of cucumber seeds that can be used for the cultivation of cucumbers:
Monoecious Seeds: Monoecious variety of cucumber seeds often produces more male flowers than female flowers. The flowering habit of monoecious cucumber varieties make them have a preponderant of male flowers. It should also be noted that environmental factors can make a cucumber variety turn monoecious. Most of the old varieties of cucumber have monoecious flowering habit.
Gynoecious Seeds: The newer varieties of cucumber are mostly gynoecious. Gynoecious varieties of cucumbers produce more of female flowers than male flowers. The flowering is highly concentrated in favor of female flowers. Gynoecious seeds ensure concentrated production of fruits. They are often higher yielding than monoecious varieties. Gynoecious varieties have a shorter fruiting cycle than the monoecious variety. In regions where there are a lot of factors inhibiting cucumber production, gynoecious variety may be better. In Nigeria, where humidity often negatively impacts the production of cucumbers, gynoecious varieties can be better than monoecious varieties.
Parthenocarpic Seeds: This variety of cucumbers produces fruits without pollination. They are mostly grown in greenhouses as there is no need for pollination. Parthenocarpic varieties are seedless. The cucumber fruits produced from parthenocarpic varieties have no seeds. Parthenocarpic varieties in Nigeria are always more expensive than gynoecious and monoecious varieties in Nigeria.
Various Types of Cucumbers in Nigeria
English Cucumber – Growth rate: 35-40 days
Local Cucumber – Growth rate: 45-50 days
Lebanese Cucumber – Growth rate: 40-45 days
Hybrid cucumber seed
Hybrid seeds of cucumbers are mostly high yielding than the open pollinated varieties. The following are some of the hybrid cucumber seeds that can be used for the growing of cucumbers:
Darina F1: This is a hybrid cucumber variety that was bred by Seminis. It has a near parthernocarpic habit as it produces almost all female flowers. The production is short but very high yielding. It is one of the most popular hybrid cucumber seeds in Nigeria.
Murano F1: This is also a popular hybrid cucumber variety in Nigeria. Technicism France produced this seed. It has a gynoecious fruiting habit. The fruits produced by Murano F1are always very big and deep green. In Southern Nigeria, the deep green color of the fruits produced by this variety is highly favored.
Greengo F1: This is a hybrid type of cucumber seeds produced by East West Seeds. It is also gynoecious in nature as it produces more of female flowers. Production is concentrated over a short time. Greengo F1 is also very high yielding.
Tokyo F1: This hybrid cucumber seed is very similar to Murano F1. They both have the same growing habit, color of fruit and shape of fruit. It is very difficult to pinpoint the difference between Murano F1 and Tokyo F1.
Monalisa F1: This is a monoecious variety produced by East West Seeds. It does not have a high yield like Darina F1, Tokyo F1, Murano F1 and Greengo F1.
Seeds germinate and emerge in three days under optimum conditions. During this time seed coat remains tight. Once cotyledons emerge, roots develop quickly. Sunlight delivers photosynthates to true leaves and root system. During the 1st week cotyledons integrity is very important, and if damaged, plants will set back. Seedlings may recover but they will be weak and susceptible to stresses. For proper germination, soil temperature must be above 15°C (60°F). If the soil is too cold and wet poor seedling emergence will take place..
Soil preparation before field planting
Soil fumigation: this aids in the control of weeds and soil-borne diseases. Fumigation alone may not provide satisfactory weed control under clear plastic.
Black plastic mulching: before field planting conserves moisture, increases soil temperature, and increases early and total yield. Plastic should be placed immediately over the fumigated soil. The soil must be moist when laying the plastic. Black plastic can be used without a herbicide
Plastic and fumigant: plastic and fumigant should be applied on well-prepared planting beds, 2-4 weeks before field planting.
Fertilizer: fertilizer must be applied during bed preparation. At least 50% of the nitrogen (N) should be in the nitrate (NO3) form.
Herbicides: herbicides are recommended for use on cucumbers may not provide satisfactory weed control when used under clear plastic mulch on non-fumigated soil.
Foil and other reflective mulches can be used to repel aphids that transmit viruses in fall planted cucumbers.
Direct seeding through the mulch is recommended for maximum virus protection. Fumigation will be necessary when there is a history of soilborne diseases in the field. Growers should consider drip irrigation with plastic mulch.
The decision on the number of plants to be grown in a given area of greenhouse should be based upon expected light conditions during growth of the crop and also upon the method of pruning the plants. With good sunlight, each plant is allotted about 0.5 m2 (5 feet2 ) space.
Nearly twice that much space may be needed with low light to avoid leaf overlapping and shading by adjacent plants. Spacing between rows and plants within the row can vary with grower preference. Rows are often spaced 1.2 – 1.5 m (4 – 5 feet) apart, with plants 30 – 45 cm (12 – 18 inches) apart in the row.
Cucumbers growth season is relatively short, lasting 35-60 days for field-grown varieties. Cucumbers are almost always direct seeded. Like most cucurbits, they do not transplant well and transplant costs would be hard to recover. Planting depth is 2.5-4 cm (1-1.5 inches). Too deep delays emergence. Pickling cucumbers have to be very precise on planting dates so that harvest will coincide with processor needs.
For early crop, container-grown transplants are planted when daily mean soil temperatures have reached 15°C (60°F) but most cucumbers are direct seeded. Early plantings should be protected from winds with hot caps or row covers. Growing on plastic mulch can also enhance earliness. Spacing Planting spacing depend on the growth method, variety and harvesting method. Close spacing increases yields, provides more uniform maturity and reduces weed problems. It also results in shorter fruit with a lighter color. On the other hand, high plant population requires more seeds and slightly higher fertilizer rates.
Cucumber vines can be trained on trellises to save space and improve yield and fruit quality. But the high cost of trellising makes commercial production by this method uneconomical in most cases. Greenhouse cucumbers must be trellised, because the long fruit bend if they rest on the ground.
The major advantages of trellising a cucumber crop include:
- harvesting efficiency
- pest management efficiency
- straighter fruits
- uniform fruit color
- eduction of fruit loss due to soil diseases
- increased yield due to closer rows
- Reduced rate of crooked fruits makes trellising absolutely necessary for Oriental slicing cucumbers.
extra cost of trellising materials
labor to erect the system, dismantle it and training the vines
for a cucumber farming business to be successful you will need to employ workers for the farm. For the unskilled jobs on your farm, immigrant farm hands from the Republic of Benin or Togo are better. They are more productive than most unskilled Nigerians who prefer to engage in Okada business than farming. For a big cucumber farm, you may need to employ a technical person. Do not be deceived into employing degree holders in Agronomy or Crop Science who have no experience in farming. I have seen a lot of degree holders in non-agricultural fields who are vastly experienced in farming than those who are agronomists, Experience counts. You can poach experienced hands from nearby cucumber farms. Your staff can make or break your cucumber farming business.
Water and Power
water is very necessary on the farm because it is used for irrigation. Your farm needs a good source of water a borehole or well or river or dam, just any good source of water all year round is required. For you to able farm cucumber all year round.
Power is key, if your farm is not around the public grid, you should use a generator or solar to get power for your farm. Power will be used for irrigation and lighting if need be.
FERTILIZER: To get good yields in cucumber farming, you should apply the right type of manure or fertilizer at the appropriate time. Do not drive blind by applying only NPK and urea. Refer to the result of your soil test and apply fertilizers as recommended. Some of the types of fertilizers you can use if you engage in cucumber farming include calcium nitrate, mono ammonium phosphate, mono potassium phosphate, chelates, potassium sulphate, NPK, urea and magnesium sulphate etc.
MANURE: Manure should be used to prepare your beds if your soil is spent or has a low cation exchange capacity. Manure is needed for cucumbers because of its 2-3 months life cycle.
Drip irrigation is a trickle form of irrigation in which water is passed to the root or base of plants in a slow but highly efficient manner. With drip irrigation, you can save about 80% of water whilst also increasing your yield by 40-100%.Drip irrigation does not encourage water run offs like other forms of irrigation. The slow dropping of water to the roots of plants make all the water passed to the plant to sink into the soil. To make good money from cucumber farming, you need drip irrigation. Using sprayers or misters to irrigate your cucumber plants may lead to foliar fungal infections.
With drip irrigation, you can apply fertilizer, that is, fertilizer can be mixed in water and passed to your crops through the drip irrigation lines. You will significantly reduce the man hours needed for side dressing of fertilizers. Drip irrigation is the most efficient type of irrigation for cucumber farming. Adequate irrigation can help in preventing the occurrences of bitter cucumber.
Diseases that affect Cucumber Plants
There are a lot of pests and diseases that affect cucumber plants. The deadliest and commonest in Nigeria is the Downy Mildew. Downey mildew is an oomycete infection that affects the leaves of the cucumber plants. It discolorizes the leaves and significantly reduce the yield of the cucumber plants. Downy mildew can wreck a big cucumber farms within days if not checked.
It is better to prevent downy mildew using fungicides having copper and mancozeb. You can also prevent this disease using some microbial based fungicides if you are an organic farmer. Neem oil, black soap and fermented urine can also be effective for prevention.
Downy mildew :downy mildew symptoms appear as water soaked patches on the lower surface of the leaves. Later the patches turn yellowish and black intermediate spore like spots appear. Yellow patches start appearing on the upper surface and finally whole leaf turns yellow and fall off. The flower buds drop off by petiole rottening before pollination in downy mildew infected plants.
Alternaria Leaf Blight (Alternaria Cucumerina): This is a fungal disease that appears as blight on the leaves of cucumber plants. The blight appears as yellow on the leaves of cucumber plants. This eventually causes necrosis and the death of the leaves infected.This disease is common in high rainfall and humid areas. The use of fungicides can address this problem. Also, cucumbers should not be cultivated on a particular spot several times.Avoid overhead irrigation of cucumber plants as this can encourage this disease to spread further.
Anthracnose (Colletotrichum Orbiculare): This is a fungal disease that affects cucumber crop. It forms brown circular lesion with yellow spots on cucumber leaves.This disease spreads in warm humid weather.A good fungicide can be used to prevent and cure this disease if caught early.
Cucumber Fruit Rot (Rhizoctonia Solani): This is a fungal disease that attacks the fruits of cucumbers. It forms brown and yellow spots on cucumber fruits which can lead to spoilage of the fruits.This disease is common in places with warm and humid weather.Management of this disease is through the application of fungicides.
Powdery mildew (Erisiphe Cichoracearum): This is a fungal disease that presents as white powdery spots on cucumber leaves, stems and fruits
Common Pest of Cucumbers
- Spider mite
- leafminer and caterpillar
|TABLE OF COMMON PESTS AND DISEASES AND THEIR MANAGEMENT|
|PEST/DISEASE||PEST STAGE||AFFECTED PART||PRODUCTS TO USE|
|Tuta absoluta||Aduits||leaves||dimethoate,thlocyclam hydrogen oxalate|
|Spidermites||All stages||Leaves &stems||synthetic pyrethroIds,abamectin|
|Aphids||Adults||Stems leaves &flowers lambdacyhalothrin.dimethoate|
|Thrips||pupa,adults||Flowers& leaves||spinosad. lambdacyhalothrin|
|Caterpillars||Larvae||Leaves & fruits||synthetic pyrethroids|
|Late blight||leaves &stems||Azoxystrobin, mancozeb,propineb,chlorothanonll,metalax
|Early blight||chlorothalonil.azoxystrobin, mancozeb, metalaxyl|
|Bacterial wilt||Copper oxychloride, copper oxide|
|Powdery mildev||Tebuconazole.azoxystrobin, mancozeb,chlorothanonli,met
|Downey mildew||Propineb, chiorothalonll.metalaxyl.azoxystrobin,mancozeb|
|Bacterial speck||Copper oxychloride, copper oxide|
|Viral Infections||uproot and control vector|
|Maximum dose||PHI||Production system||Special recommendations|
|Bacillus thuringensis (Bt)||0.75 kg/ ha||1 day||C/O||Biological pesticide|
|Bifenthrin||1.6 l/ha||3 days||Alternate with non pyrethroids|
|Deltamethrin||0.5 //ha||3 days||Alternate with non pyrethroids|
|Aphids||Lamda cyhalothrin||11/ha||4 days||Alternate with non pyrethroids|
|Bifenthrin||1.6 I /ha||3 days||Alternate with non pyrethroids|
|Deltamethrin||0.3- 0.5 //ha||1 day||Alternate with non pyrethroids|
|Lamda cyhalothrin||1 l/ha||4 days||Alternate with non pyrethroids|
|Imidachloprid||0.5 //ha||3 days|
|Azadiractin||1 lha||1 day||C/O||Natural product|
|Cutworms||Pyrethrum (1%) and garlic extract (37.7 %)||1 lha||1 day||C/O||Natural product|
|Bifenthrin||1.6 I/ha||3 days||Drench soils at planting|
|Beta cyfluthrin||0.6 //ha||3 days||Drench soils at planting|
|Alpha cypermethrin||0.25 // ha||3 days||Drench soils at planting|
|Spider mites||Pyrethrum (1%) and garlic extracts (37.7 %)||1 Tha||1 day||C/O|
|Abamectin||0.25 I/ha||3 days||Maximum of 3 applications (alternate with pvrethroids)|
Nutrients needed for Cucumber Cultivation
Cucumber is a heavy feeder; it extracts a lot of nutrients from the soil. A ton of cucumber fruits removes about 1,000 grams of nitrogen, 750 grams of phosphorus and 2,000 grams of potassium from the soil. Under glass cultivation of cucumbers with an expected yield of 300 tones per hectare, 470kg of nitrogen, 220kg of phosphorus, 900kg of potassium, 120kg of magnesium and 310kg of calcium have to be applied to the crop.
For high yielding one hectare cucumber cultivation in the open field, 160kg of nitrogen, 120kg of phosphorus and 260kg of potassium have to be applied to the crop. Cucumber grow well when the soil pH is between 6 – 6.7.In order to get a super high yield in cucumber farming, base fertilizers like single super phosphate, potassium sulfate, magnesium sulfate and limestone (if your soil has a low pH) have to be used. It is not uncommon for commercial farmers aiming at a super high yield to apply 100 – 250kg of single super phosphate fertilizer, 200 – 400kg of potassium sulfate and 100 – 200kg of magnesium sulfate as base fertilizer in cucumber farming. For cucumber farmers using drip irrigation, 50kg of nitrogen can be fertigated as pre-plant fertilizer per hectare. Then, 0.8kg of nitrogen will be applied daily through fertigation during the growing season. Side dressing of fertilizers should also be done during the growth stage of the cucumber.
Marketing of Produce
It is always better you sell your cucumber produce to organized markets like shoprite, hotels and vegetable shops etc. This set of customers buy per kg. A kilogram of cucumbers in Lagos goes for N240 –N400.For those willing to sell the unorganized market, Mile 12 market Lagos, Aba market, Abeokuta market, Farin Gada,oje .eleyele market ibadan, Jos or any open market around you. The main disadvantage of selling in unorganized markets is that the prices are unpredictable.
There are peak and off peak times every year. If you are engaged in cucumber production, you should mind these times and plan accordingly. Prices of fresh cucumbers can vary by up to 500% in a year. Do not rely only on selling your cucumbers in the open market. You should deploy digital marketing strategies, words of mouth advertisement and selling to people around your environment. It is a big mistake to think that making money from cucumber cultivation stops after harvesting of the produce. Though, fresh cucumbers are fairly easy to sell, you should go the extra length in order to make a good profit.