By NDERITU KAMUNYA
Many Kenyans in urban areas appreciate meals with cucumber. This is a vegetable crop that belongs to the cucumbitaceae family and is a popular vegetable crop cultivated all around the world. Cucumber plant has a climbing or trailing habit. The tender cucumber can be eaten raw or with salt in salad. It can also be used in daily cooking. Cucumber seeds can be used in oil extraction.
There are three commercial varieties that are available. These are:
- Japanese long green.
- Straight eight.
CLIMATE CONDITIONS REQUIRED FOR CUCUMBER FARMING.
The cucumber crop requires a moderate warm temperature and grows best at a temperature between 20c and 24c. It is not suitable for adverse weather conditions.
SUITABLE SOIL FOR CUCUMBER FARMING.
Cucumber can be grown in wide varieties of soils from sandy loams to clay soil with good drainage. Make sure the soil contains organic matter by adding organic compost or any farm yard manure for higher yields. Soil PH should be between 5.5 and 6.7 is favourable for optimum growth. You can ask your local extension officer to help you determine whether you have the right soils.
SOIL PREPARATION IN CUCUMBER FARMING.
The main field should be prepared thoroughly sowing of seeds. Plough the land around four times and form long channels at 1.5 meter apart.
BEST SEASON, SEED RATE AND SEED TREATMENT IN CUCUMBER FARMING.
Sow the cucumber seeds during June or July to April. About 3kg of cucumber seeds are required for a hectare. Treat the cucumber seeds with Pseudomonas fluorescens 10grams/kg or Trichoderma viride 4grams/kg or carbendazim 2grams/kg of seeds before sowing.
SOWING METHOD IN CUCUMBER FARMING.
The cucumber seed is sown by method of dibbling at a distance of 1.5m to 2.5cm (row to row) by 60cm to 90cm. Two to three cucumber seeds are sown in each pit. Layout in ring and basing method is preferred.
MANURE AND FERTILIZER IN CUCUMBER FARMING
You require 40-50 wheelbarrow well decomposed farm yard manure. 25kg P/ha 50kg N, should be given ½ N and full phosphorous should be given at the time of sowing cucumber seeds and remaining half N should be given 30days after sowing seeds.
Drip irrigation is the most effective method for cucumber farming. Install drip system with main and sub main pipes and place the inline lateral tubes at an interval of 60cm and 50cm spacing with 4LPH and 3.5 LPH capacities respectively. Crop irrigation should be given to maintain moisture at all times apart from the rainy seasons.
ADVANTAGES OF DRIP IRRIGATION
- Maximum use of available water.
- No water being available to weed so weed control is efficient.
- Maximum crop yield.
- High efficiency in use of fertilizer.
- Low labour and relatively low operation cost.
- Soil erosion is eliminated.
- No run of fertilizer into ground water.
- Less evaporation loss of water as compared to surface irrigation.
- Improves seed germination
ADVANTAGE OF SPRINKLER IRRIGATION.
- Eliminates water conveyance channels, thereby reducing conveyance loss.
- Suitable in all type of soil except heavy clay.
- Water saving up to 30% to 50%
- Suitable for irrigation where the plant population per unit area is very high.
- Reduces soil compaction.
- Saves land as no bunds use are required.
- Reduces labour cost.
WEED CONTROL OPERATION IN CUCUMBER FARMING.
Shallow cultivation can be given during early stages of cucumber plant growth to control weeds. Herbicides may be used for controlling the weeds.
PEST AND DISEASES IN CUCUMBER FARMING.
The main disease in cucumber farming is Downy mildew and it can be controlled by applying Mancozeb or Chlorothalonil 2g/lit twice at 12 days interval. Main pest is fruit fly and it can be controlled by:
- Picking the affected cucumbers and destroying
- Neem oil application
HARVESTING AND YIELD OF CUCUMBERS.
Harvesting can be done between 40 to 45 days after sowing. On an average 8 to 10 harvest can be done. Timely picking of cucumber is more important for better quality for fruit and can yield 8-10 tonnes per hectare.
Cucumber is in good demand in local markets, and can be transported via trucks.