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Species: Cucumis sativus L.
French: Concombre; English: Cucumber; Spanish: Cohombro; German: Gurke.
Origin and diffusion
Cucumber is an annual climbing plant. The fruit is cylindrical, more or less elongated, green or white, yellow when ripe, smooth or with small protrusions ending with a wrinkled dark-colored papilla, which falls easily, white flesh that encloses the seeds. The pulp is made up of a characteristic glassy tissue. The fruits are consumed when they are still immature, in a fresh state or preserved in vinegar.
Long Cucumber fruit of China - Cucumis sativus L. (photo Francesco Sodi)
“Long green cucumber of the Cascine”: very productive cultivar, with very long fruit of excellent quality. Early.
Long cucumber from China
"Cucumber Rollison's Telegraph": very vigorous cultivar with very long fruit, dark green color, smooth.
"Short white cucumber" or "Snowball": early white fruit.
"Cucumber Torpedo": Short fruit, early.
"Cucumber Marketer": vigorous and productive cultivar of American origin. Fruit of 19-20 cm, dark green in color, slightly papillose. Medium early maturation.
"Cucumber Cubit": another cultivar of American origin, with medium short fruit 22 cm. Early.
"Ashley Cucumber": it is one of the most productive cultivars that is also suitable for greenhouse cultivation. Early, vigorous, powdery mildew resistant. Fruits tapered at the end, 20 cm long.
Some Japanese F1s have recently been introduced
Ginoiche cultivar (without male flowers, parthenocarpic).
"Matro F1": vigorous, productive. Fruits 25 cm long, dark green in color. Resistant to disease. Early.
"Nadir Hybrid F1".
Pickled small fruit cucumbers
"Small green Paris gherkin": pickled cultivar, rustic and very productive.
"Pickled white gherkin": small fruit cultivar with firm pulp, very suitable for pickles.
"Ceto": F1 excellent for resistance to anthracnose and viruses.
Cucumber is a rather demanding species and wants very fertile, fresh, irrigated soils, prepared with a working depth of at least 35-40 cm and fertilized with 90-100 units of phosphorus pentoxide and 200-250 units of potassium oxide. In calcium deficient soils it is necessary to add 150-200 units of calcium oxide or the use of natural phosphates (ground phosphorites) and Thomas slag. In coverage then 130-150 nitrogen units will be needed for a production of 600-800 q / ha of cucumbers.
In normal cultivation, cucumber is sown outdoors in April-May
Sowing: it is usually done in small holes, 40-50 cm apart, along the combined solchetti, traced at a distance of 0.80-1 and 1.20-1.50 meters, putting three-four seeds for each buchetta, spaced apart by 2-3 cm, when the young seedlings are somewhat developed, thinning is practiced, leaving only one seedling per place.
Cultural care: when the seedlings have 5-6 leaves, they are topped on the fourth leaf. The jets that are formed could still be topped with one or two leaves above the first fruit.
The jets can be left to develop and spread on the ground or they can be attached to supports on which they rise like peas. With the supports the fruits are more straight and more colorful and the topping operation can be eliminated.
During the first phase of vegetation, especially for cucumbers left without support, careful weeding is made, so that the soil, subsequently covered by the plant, remains well cleaned.
Cucumber requires abundant irrigation, followed by localized fertilization on the roof with nitrogen and potassium phosphorus fertilizers.
For the cultivation of pickled gherkins, the same rules as for the previous crop are followed, but they are not topped and the harvest is made much earlier trying to remove fruits that have reached the same volume. It is also recommended to sow them in simple files.
Forced or extra-seasonal cultivation
The extra-seasonal cultivation of cucumber can be more or less "anticipated" as winter cultivation, at least in our country, is not convenient, above all because the product is very difficult to place.
Very early crop
This culture takes place completely in a fixed greenhouse and in a tunnel, heated with a hot water and hot air system. The latter gives the best results.
Sowing: it is done in the second half of December, using stackable wooden boxes, well sewered, stuffed with a mixture of sand (2/3) and potting soil (1/3) deriving from trimming of hot beds, all carefully sterilized, and put in a hot greenhouse at a temperature of 16-17 / 22-24 ° C.
Repacking: after about twenty days, when the seedlings have started to release the first true leaf, always operating in the same greenhouse, they re-bind in a 6 cm "fertilpot", also collected in piles. The seedlings are buried up to one centimeter from the cotyledonal leaves so that in the space between them and the collar an abundant capillary of adventitious roots is formed, a prerequisite for a strong recovery of the planted seedling.
The jars are filled with a mixture of potting soil, coming from the wreckage of hot beds, and sand, sterilized with superheated steam. A certain quantity of mineral superphosphate, potassium sulphate and lime is added. Sowing can also be done directly in jars or cubes, or in manure-soil mix screeds by placing the seeds deep enough.
Plantation: in late January, early February, planting is done in a greenhouse with the temperature always set at 16-17 / 22-24 ° C. the seedlings are placed in rows at a distance of 80 x 50 centimeters, on raised products of at least 10-15 cm. This prevents or avoids the attack of the collar rot (Colletotrichum lagenarium Ell. Et Halst.) While facilitating irrigation by lateral infiltration.
The soil is prepared with a digging or plowing about 30 cm deep, fertilizing with 500-600 quintals of manure, integrated with 100-120 units of phosphorus pentoxide in the form of superphosphate and 150-200 units of potassium oxide from sulphate. The nitrogen ration is covered. Disinfestation is done with vapam.
Cultivar: ginoid tests (cultivars without a male system) were made and did not give better results. These include: "Racket F1", "Condel F1", "Groenlo F1".
Among the greenhouse cultivars, the "Ashley" seems to give excellent results for the markets that prefer the medium long or short fruit.
To the ground: to avoid the development of weeds and the excessive compaction of the soil, caused by the passage of the workers in the inter-rows, it is necessary to make fairly frequent milling which also serve to bury the fertilizers given on the roof.
Irrigation: it is always frequent and abundant, especially in the period of most intense fruiting, quantities of water never lower than 300-400 m3 / ha are supplied in turn.
Cover fertilization: usually about 150 nitrogen units are distributed in the form of nitroammoniacal and P K N as already mentioned, supplemented by a foliar fertilization to be implemented together with the pesticide treatments.
Paling: for the indispensable support to the plants, pieces of agritex string are used, fixed to a galvanized iron wire, stretched about two meters above the row or tied with a special non-slip knot at the base of the plant, but more often on another iron wire stretched at the base, to the surface of the ground. The nylon net is no longer practical.
Pruning: some cultivars used have been shown to be adversely affected by the topping on the first two leaves and on the fruiting twigs for which it has been eliminated from cultivation practices.
Early cultivation outdoors
For early cultivation in the open field, cucumber is sown in early March, in a box on a warm bed, generally in fertil-pot or paper-pot. If the sowing is not done in pots, after a couple of weeks from sowing, the transplant is done in another box with a semi-warm bed, protected by windows and if necessary by mats, without giving air until the seedlings have recovered well.
As soon as the freezing period has passed, the transplant is done outdoors in small holes dug at a depth of 30-40 cm where fermented manure was placed covered by a layer of good soil mixed with virgin earth.
It can also be done in a deep furrow which is filled with manure and then covered with earth. Potted or nursery seedlings are placed on this.
On these plants, glass or plastic bells or special glazed chassis or plastic tunnels can be superimposed.
Long variety cucumber plants of China - Cucumis sativus L. (photo Francesco Sodi)
Collection and production
Harvesting generally starts in the middle or the end of March-early April and continues until the end of June, the period in which the constructive characteristics of the greenhouses inhibit further vegetation and production of plants due to excess internal temperature . On average, 15 fruits are sold which are sold on a plant basis.
Adversity and pests
The first treatments are done with a systemic cuporganic, so you also intervene with the foot of the seedlings to control the rot of the very dangerous collar. Other treatments can be done for the control of powdery mildew and lice.