Cucumber is a fast growing, short-seasoned vegetable that belongs to gourd family (Curcubitaceae). The gourd family members include Watermelon, Melon, Squash, Fluted Pumpkin, etc. Cucumber matures in 40 – 50 days. Cucumber has different sex expressions that could affect pollination, eventual fruit formation and yield. Cucumber may be Monoecious, Dioecious, Gynoecious, Androecious, Hermaphroditic, Andromonoecious or Parthenocarpic. However, a gynoecious cucumber produces more fruits and mature earlier while parthenocarpic cucumber is suitable for greenhouse cultivation. Lots of breeding efforts have been put into cucumber by Asian, European and American countries. Cucumber farming is a very lucrative agribusiness that can return millions in short time.
Let’s examine the following practical analysis.
A bag (25kg sack) of cucumber costs between 2,500 and 5,000 NGN Naira and it may be lesser or more depending on the season. The bag will contain between 50 – 60 cucumbers pieces depending on the size. It is possible to get 1,500 – 2,000 bags of cucumber from 1 hectare depending on variety and management practice adopted, this implies that a sum of 3,000,000 – 6,000,000 NGN Naira can be realized from one hectare in one production cycle.
However, the following considerations are necessary to get a good yield and return from cucumber farming;
Know Your Market: Market research should come first before production commences. It is important to understand the market dynamics in your region. Know the place and price to sell your produce, know your potential customers and middlemen involved. It is important to know how market agents operate in the market where you want to sell your cucumbers. For example, to sell your cucumbers at Mile 12 Open market, you will have to pay 10% of your cucumber sale to market agent.
Growing Medium: Cucumber requires a well drained but loamy soil. Cucumber cannot tolerate a water logged condition hence; it thrives at a pH of 5.5 – 7.2 with a temperature of 20oC – 30oC. The soil can be ploughed, after ploughing the bed should be made to a height of 20cm – 30cm, 100cm wide and 50cm – 100cm between beds. Cucumber is planted at a spacing of 40cm – 50cm. It can be planted in an open field or greenhouse, in a container or nursed in a seedling trays before transplanting. When planted in the seed tray, you transplant when the first true leaves appear at 6 – 10 days.
Variety: Variety selection is crucial to cucumber production. It is necessary to determine varieties that are acceptable in the market and can thrive well in your region. Maturity, sex expression, culture, colour, length and tolerance to diseases vary with varieties. Various seed companies have successfully bred high yielding cucumber varieties. Some of these seed companies include; Chia Thai Co. Ltd, Technisem, Continental Seeds, Syngenta, Rijk Zwaan, Premier Seeds, East West Seeds, Yuksel Tohum Seeds, etc. Some of these cucumber varieties include Cu999, Amata 765, Murano, Nagano, Market more etc.
Water Supply: Cucumber needs adequate water supply in form of precipitation (rain) or irrigation. When there is rainfall deficit, you need to support with irrigation to meet water requirement. Different types of irrigation can be used for cucumber but drip irrigation performs best. Drip irrigation ensures continuous supply of water at the right time and quantity during wet or dry season. Cucumbers are most sensitive to moisture stress during flowering and fruiting hence water deficit at this period will negatively affect yield and fruit quality. Drip lines are laid after bed preparation.
Fertilizer Application: Cucumber responds well to cured manure/compost and chemical fertilizer application. The amount and mode of application will depend on soil test and requirement. Inadequate fertilizer supply may result in bitterness in cucumbers and low yield.
Cucumber does very well when planted in compost, just open the soil, pour compost and plant the seed, you will get best yield, supplement this with organic liquid fertilizers (Seaweed Extracts) before fruiting, affirmed Kalusam, a crop farmer expert. In a submission by Kolawole Rauf, an agronomist at Dizengoff Nigeria,
You will need a balanced fertilizer NPK 15.15.15 or NPK 20.20.20 as basal application at planting between 30 – 50g per planting hole. Potassium based fertilizer with minimum 46% Potassium (K) at flower initiation, and calcium based fertilizer at the same time. The rate and frequency of application depends on the fertilizer type available.
Weed Control: Weed can be counter-productive if not properly managed in cucumber farm. Hand weeding
herbicide can be used to control weeds. These two methods have their benefits and limitations; however weed can be effectively controlled without the use of herbicide by making use of plastic mulching films to cover beds and using agricultural waste like rice straw to cover the furrow. Where there is no waste, herbicide can be used to control the furrow weeds. Herbicide could be injurious if allowed to touch cucumber plant. The use of plastic mulching film has drastically reduced the cost of weeding.
Diseases and Pests control: You don’t wait for diseases and pests to occur before you start applying necessary treatments. Prevention is better than cure. Fungicides and Insecticides are needed to be sprayed on cucumber at programmed intervals. Neem cake can be applied during planting to address Nematodes infections, Wilting and other soil-borne diseases. Neem cake serves as both pesticides and fertilizer. The use of Biofungicide (Trichoderma, Pseudomonas), Botanical Pesticide (Neem oil, Pongam oil), Bioinsecticide (Beauveria) and Liquid fertilizer (Amino acid, Seaweeds the Extract) has given good result in Organic farming, IPM based farming and greenhouse farming.
Staking and Pruning: Staking and pruning are very important in cucumber production and benefits are numerous. Staking provides support for growing cucumbers and prevents the fruits from touching the ground where which it can be attacked by pests and diseases. Pruning also prevents the fruits from touching the ground and promotes bigger fruits. Pruning is usually done at early stage before fruiting.
Cucumber has been found useful in many ways; it is not only good for fresh consumption or salad preparation but can be used in skin/hair care production, facial treatment and as a detox. Cucumber has ability to reduce cholesterol, fight cancer, cure diabetes, control blood pressure and promotes digestion.
If you need any of the above inputs, farm setup or consultancy leave your comment below.
Your contributions, inquiry and commendations are welcomed.