Steps On How To Start Cucumber Farming
To venture into cucumber farming, a lot of proper planning needs to be done to produce the desired results. There are important things you have to look into which include where to plant, when to plant and how to plant.
Once the planning stage is complete, a strategy should be put in place to reach your target market at their various locations. You must know your target market because this will prevent your cucumbers from staying too long on the farm after harvesting. Without further ado, let us look at the processes involved in cucumber farming.
Even if cucumber can be grown in any part of the country, there are still some things to look out for concerning the soil type for farming. Ideally, the soil should be loamy or clay and the land should have adequate access to water.
The pH of the soil should be fairly neutral or slightly alkaline ( close to 7.0 ). Additionally, the area should have sufficient exposure to sunlight since light is very essential for not just cucumber growth, but plant growth.
Have it at the back of your mind that your site selection should not be too far from your potential market or target customers. Larger farmland gives you a greater yield. If your land is small, you can make do with it pending when you get a larger one.
Land preparation involves clearing the land and weeding it. Ensure that herbicides are not used to weed the land. This is because these herbicides contain chemicals that can affect soil quality and crop yield.
It is advisable to apply organic manure to the soil in preparation for planting. Inorganic fertilizers like the NPK fertilizer can be applied in the ratio 15:15:15.
Seed selection is a very important step in your cucumber farming venture. Endeavor to source for seeds that are certain to give you great crop yield.
Seeds from Europe and America are not suitable for the African climate. However, seeds can be imported from Thailand since their climate is similar to that of Nigeria.
If you need assistance on where to source your seeds, you can visit the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture to get their recommendations on the best type of cucumber seeds.
Cucumber can be planted at any time of the year. The plants generally need adequate water to thrive, so if you’re planting during the dry season, there should be an irrigation system in place to ensure a sufficient water supply.
You can plant on the bed and you should ensure the right spacing between the plants. Also, you can plant your seed in the nursery then transplant it later to the farmland.
However, the recommended method is planting directly on the farmland due to the fragile nature of the cucumber root hence transplanting could damage these roots. The seeds should be planted in damp soil. The soil temperature is also important before germination.
Ideally, the temperature shouldn’t be between16 – 35C The seed should be pushed slightly into the bed at about 1 to 2 cm from the soil surface. The spacing between plants should be about 1 foot apart while the spacing between rows should be about 4 to 6 feet. 3 seeds should be planted per hole; however, once germination occurs, you can thin the plants to 2.
After planting, do ensure that you support the growing plant with stakes or pillars. The reason is that cucumber plants are climbers by nature and they require the necessary support for optimal growth. Mulching is also an important activity.
When you mulch, you reduce the quantity of fertilizer, you’ll need post-planting because less nitrogen is lost via leaching. Also, mulching makes the soil warm and reduces weed growth. Irrigation helps to promote the growth of cucumbers.
Light irrigation increases the effectiveness of herbicides used in weed control. Irrigation is particularly important during fruit development. However, the wetness of the foliage can allow for fungal disease infestation. Ideally, the plant should be watered daily once the seedlings begin to sprout.
Weeding should be done 20 to 30 days after planting. Liquid inorganic fertilizer or organic fertilizer can be applied every 2 weeks. Cucumber needs adequate nitrogen in the soil to grow optimally so you can apply an inorganic fertilizer that is high in nitrogen.
However, mulching can help preserve the nitrogen content of the soil as stated earlier. As it is with crops generally, pests and diseases can also affect cucumber farming. These pests include ladybirds, beetles, spider mites, and grasshoppers.
Insecticides can be applied to control cucumber beetles. In the case of spider mites, apply the appropriate miticide. Diseases that affect the cucumber plant include damping off, anthracnose, mildew, and mosaic disease.
As a way to prevent diseases particularly fungal diseases, you should plant seeds that have been treated with fungicide. In the case of a disease like a leaf spot and mildew, apply a fungicide once you notice any sign of the disease.
You can spray insecticides at regular intervals to control the pest. Livestock like cows and goats can also affect cucumbers because these animals eat the leaves and fruits.
Cucumbers are harvested when they are immature and green in color. They shouldn’t be harvested when the cucumber is ripe. It takes about 40 to 45 days for the cucumber to mature. However, the time taken to mature depends on the variety of cucumber seeds planted.
Harvesting is usually done manually and the cucumber should be handled with care to prevent bruises. Also, high impact damage due to the cucumber falling can cause internal bloating. This is why you should avoid dropping the cucumber when harvesting or transporting them.
Once the cucumber is harvested, wash them quickly in a bowl of water and arrange them carefully in a bag for sale. Cucumber should be stored in a cool place with a relative humidity of 95 %. However, it is not expected you store the cucumber for long.
Once the cucumbers have been harvested, there should be a defined process in place to move the fruit from the farm to the market. This should have been sorted out during your research before starting the business venture. A readily available market coupled with a bountiful harvest is a perfect recipe for success in cucumber farming.read more