Jul 15, 2016

The cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, one of the more important plant families. The genus Cucumis contains nearly 40 species including three important cultivated ones (i.e., C. anguria L. [West Indian gherkin], C. sativus [cucumber], and C. melo L. [cantaloupe]). Within these varieties, several cultivars have been created. The cucumber is originally from South Asia, but now grows on most continents. Many different types of cucumber are traded on the global market.

The cucumber is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trellises or other supporting frames, wrapping around supports with thin, spiraling tendrils. The plant may also root in a soilless medium and will sprawl along the ground if it does not have supports. The vine has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruits. The fruit of typical cultivars of cucumber is roughly cylindrical, but elongated with tapered ends, and may be as large as 60 centimeters (24 in) long and 10 centimeters (3.9 in) in diameter. Botanically speaking, the cucumber is classified as a pepo, a type of botanical berry with a hard outer rind and no internal divisions. Much like tomato and squash, it is often perceived, prepared and eaten as a vegetable. Cucumber fruits are usually more than 90% water.

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. 

Cucumbers growth season is relatively short, lasting 55-60 days for field-grown varieties, and over 70 days for greenhouse varieties.

Cucumbers prefer light textured soils that are well drained, high in organic matter and have a pH of 6 - 6.8. Adapted to a wide-range of soils, but will produce early in sandy soils. Cucumbers are fairly tolerant to acid soils (down to pH 5.5).

Growing cucumber and getting high yield is a task that requires profound knowledge and expertise. Here are just some of the information for reference :

- The optimum time to introduce hives into the field is when approximately 25% of the plants are beginning to flower.

- The cucumber grows best under conditions of high temperature, humidity, and light intensity and with an uninterrupted supply of water and nutrients.

- Air temperature is the main environmental component influencing vegetative growth, flower initiation, fruit growth, and fruit quality.

- Close spacing increases yields, provides more uniform maturity and reduces weed problems. It also results in shorter fruit with a lighter color.

- Numerous studies have showed a linear decrease in the yields of cucumbers as the salt concentration of the irrigation water increased.

- Crop yields are highly dependent on N availability to the plant.

- It has been shown clearly the positive effect of potassium fertilization on cucumber yields.

- Potassium has a well-known effect of both enhancing plant resistance to pathogens and of reducing the impact of the infection.