Cucumber is an excellent and very important crop and it is a highly yielded crop under the tunnel environment. Cucumber is a well-preferred vegetable by the progressive farmer. Cucumber can be grown in an open field in summer as well as in vegetable forcing in winter under the tunnel. It can be grown in high and walk-in the tunnel. There are different varieties that are being grown in Pakistan. In this article, I will discuss each aspect of cucumber farming. There are the following outlines under which a complete farming process will be discussed,
- Variety selection
- Nursery preparation
- Land preparation
- Plant protection
- Fertilizer and irrigation
Variety selection and nursery preparation
The selection of variety is important for farmers to yield. It is suggested that farmers should select the variety with better characteristics like pest and disease resistance, high yielded. The variety with a short internodal distance is more preferred so that more fruit could be obtained per plant. Variety should have the ability to tackle the flower abortion issue. Well, it is very important what kind of variety a farmer needs to select. As a researcher I would like to suggest that always explore well your market and get the recommendation from the experienced grower, then it will be better to understand that which variety will be best in my relative location. There are many varieties that are being used and their yield and characteristics are amazing like ‘Noble’, ‘Paris’ etc. Select the best variety or progeny in breeding terms so that it could be a better journey in the cucumber farming business.
For nursery preparation, soilless media culture like peat moss is used in plastic germination trays where its nursery will be prepared within 10-12 days for tunnel farming, while in summer farming case nursery prepared within 8-10 days. It is suggested that give plenty of water the first time after seed sowing in germination trays, and it requires only once.
As always, I mentioned in every crop under this section, I always mention the farmyard manure. Apply ‘Daab’ method, it is a process of applying farmyard manure one month earlier before plantation where the organic matter will be added as well as many of weeds will grow and then it is suggested that during pulverizing the soil weeds should also be the part of organic matter as green manuring. Just like bell pepper, where beds formation under one walk-in tunnel area which is 6 feet in height and 12 feet in width. Under this area, four beds are prepared and the middle two beds size should be 2 ft and the outer two beds should be half in size. It is suggested that the plant to plant distance should be kept 8 inches.
It is a common problem in tunnel farming, due to excessive humidity, there are plenty of chances of fungal diseases. It is advised and suggested that air circulation should be normal and the tunnel should be open for 2-3 hours so that excessive humidity could be released and temperature should be maintained. Another problem is the pruning of cucumber, it produces too many off suckers which need to be pruned off, otherwise, there will be lesser production of fruit will occur and fruit size will not be unique per plant, so it is suggested that clip of the suckers so that food distribution could be equal. There are different experts who suggest that cucumber plant height should not be too taller otherwise plant will not bear the weight of more fruit. For this purpose, it is suggested that plant suppressors like NAA (Naphthalic acetic acid) should be applied. Fruit abortion is also an important issue in which fruit did not succeed in a completely ripened ovary. This problem occurs due to mismanagement and overdose of nitrogen and over-irrigation. It is suggested that prepare the plan for fertilizer and water. Initially for earlier growth when vegetative growth occurs plant needs nitrogen and phosphorus and a little quantity of potash.
While tackling the other issues, the black sheet is used for weeds control which is helpful in water preservation as well.
Fertilizer and irrigation
It is an important step that a farmer needs to plan for fertilizer and irrigation. In tunnel farming, drip irrigation is used, and fertilizer is applied with water, and this process called fertigation. It is suggested that initially when vegetative growth started dominantly then 10% nitrogen, 60% phosphorus, and 20-25% potash should be applied for early 25 days when later it’s near to fruiting then 15-20 % nitrogen, 20-30 % phosphorus and 60 % potash should be applied until the last fruiting.
If the crop is managed well and applies good agriculture practices then at each picking then 100 bags of five kg are normal it is said by a progressive farmer. Each pack or bag is sold out in the market with 100-200 rupees. The rates fluctuate and income depends upon the market price, but it was mentioned by a progressive farmer that even at first picking farmer gets satisfied with income which completes almost all expenditure and profit can be generated easily.
- Cucumber is a vegetable with two growing seasons and its yield potential is higher than other tunnel crops under winter forcing techniques.
- Cucumber can be grown in a walk-in tunnel as well as a high tunnel.
- A good variety should be select after exploring the market and different expertise in your area.
- A soilless media is recommended for nursery preparation and nursery is prepared within 10-12 days.
- During land preparation always use the well-rotten farmyard manure with chemical fertilizer with a recommendation.
- To avoid the abortion issue in cucumber it is suggested that prepare a well manage plan or schedule of NPK proportion and irrigation interval.
- Train your labor for stalking the succulent plant and remove off suckers with weekly intervals.
- The use of black sheets over the beds is effective for controlling weeds and water preservation.
- A good and healthy cucumber crop yielded enough and give almost more than 5 pickings and profit can be generated easily.
I hope this article helps you a lot, keep commenting and stay tuned!