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HORT410 - Vegetable Crops

Cucumber - Notes

  • Common name: cucumber.
  • Latin name: Cucumis sativus L.
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae [Cucurbitaceae Images].
  • Diploid (2n = 14).
  • Related species used as vegetables: muskmelon, squash, pumpkin and watermelon.
  • Origin: India.
  • Introduced to the New World by Columbus.
  • Cucumber history (TAMU).
  • Dicotyledon.
  • Annual.
  • Harvested organ: immature fruit.
  • Used for fresh consumption (slicing cucumber), or for preservation, marinated with vinegar, salt, or spices (picking cucumber).
  • Warm season, frost-susceptible.
  • Temperature optimum: 20 to 30 C.
  • Vine crop.
  • Separate staminate and pistillate flowers [19KB image].
  • Pollinated by bees: 2 to 3 bee colonies per acre are recommended.
  • Days to harvest maturity: 50 to 70 days after planting.
  • Varieties differ for earliness, disease resistance, suitability for once-over machine harvest.
  • Parthenocarpic varieties produce seedless fruit are used for greenhouse culture.
  • Optimum soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5.
  • Direct seeded or transplanted.
  • Often grown using trickle irrigation under plastic mulch.
  • Fresh market cucumbers harvested by hand at 2 to 4 day intervals.
  • Typically harvest size ranges from 5 to 8 inches in length and from 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter for fresh market.
  • Processing cucumber: highest prices paid for the small sizes and the lowest for the larger sizes.
  • Best stored at 12 - 13 C and a relative humidity of 95%.
  • Greenhouse cucumbers are often film-wrapped to prevent moisture loss.
  • Major diseases of cucumber in the Midwest:
  • Major insect pests of cucumber in the Midwest:
  • Because bacterial wilt [22KB image] is carried by the striped [20KB image] and spotted [13 KB image] cucumber beetle, an effective strategy of controlling this disease is to manage these insect pests.
  • Care should be taken in applying pesticides which are toxic to bees during flowering and fruit set -- decreases pollination and fruit quality.

    (see: ID-56: Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers 2003 - Cucumber, Muskmelon, and Watermelon (PURDUE) [pdf] for information on cucumber varieties, spacing, fertilizing, irrigation, harvesting, and specific cucumber disease, weed and insect control recommendations for the Midwest)

  • Three different flower types --- staminate (male), pistillate (female) and hermaphrodite (both male and female).
  • Main sex types in cucumber:
      Monoecious plants; separate staminate and pistillate flowers on the same plant
      Androecious plants; staminate flowers only
      Gynoecious plants; pistillate flowers only
      Hermaphroditic plants; hermaphrodite flowers only
      Andromonoecious; separate staminate and hermaphrodite flowers on the same plant
      Dioecious; male flowers only on one plant and female flowers only on another
  • Three major genes determine sex in cucumber (M, Acr and a):
      gynoecious = MM, AcrAcr
      hermaphrodite = mm, AcrAcr
      monoecious = MM, acracr
      andromonoecious = mm, acracr
      androecious = acracr, aa
  • a is responsible for androecy and has an effect in acracr plants only.
  • The symbol F (female) is used synonymously with Acr.
  • F locus has recently been shown to be very closely linked to a gene encoding ACC synthase, a key enzyme of ethylene biosynthesis (Trebitsh T, Staub JE, O'Neill SD. 1997. Identification of a 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid synthase gene linked to the female (F) locus that enhances female sex expression in cucumber. Plant Physiol. 113: 987-995).
  • Acr (F) may be modified by an intensifier gene In-Fe (In-F).
  • Tr determines formation of trimonoecious plants (with staminate, pistillate and hermaphoditic flowers on the same plant).
  • Fruit from hermaphroditic flowers are rounded, and have no economic value.
  • Yield potential increases with the femaleness.
  • If a purely female variety is grown, need to provide an appropriate pollinator.
  • Parthenocarpy is the ability to develop fruits without pollination.
  • Parthenocarpy is controlled by an incompletely dominant gene Pc.
  • NAA and ethephon promote pistillate flowers.
  • Gibberellins, silver nitrate and aminoethoxyvinylglycine promote staminate flowers.

    Sources of information:

  • Foster, R., Brust, G., Barrett, B. Watermelons, muskmelons, and cucumbers. In "Vegetable Insect Management With Emphasis on the Midwest", (ed. R. Foster, B. Flood), Meister Publishing Co., Willoughby, Ohio, pp. 157 - 168 (1995).
  • Nonnecke, I.L. "Vegetable Production", Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY (1989).
  • Phillips, R., Rix, M. "The Random House Book of Vegetables", Random House, NY (1993).
  • Maynard, D.N. Cucumber. In "The Software Toolworks Multimedia Encyclopedia", Version 1.5, Grolier, Inc. (1992).
  • Tatlioglu, T. Cucumber, Cucumis sativus L. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 197-238 (1993).
  • Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers, ID-56, eds. R. Foster, D. Egel, E. Maynard, R. Weinzierl, H. Taber, L.W. Jett, B. Hutchinson, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, 2003.
  • Musmade, A,M., Desai, U.T. Cucumber and melon. In "Handbook of Vegetable Science and Technology: Production, Composition, Storage, and Processing", (ed. D.K. Salunkhe, S.S. Kadam), Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, pp. 245 - 272 (1998).

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  • David Rhodes
    Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture
    Horticulture Building
    625 Agriculture Mall Drive
    Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010
    Last Update: 01/07/08