CUCUMBERS (cucumis sativus)
Is a very important ingredient in vegetable salad cultivated mostly in northern part of Nigeria. Experience has shown that it also performs very well in the south, especially in the Savannah areas of Oyo state [ Shaki, Iseyin, Igboho, Baasi and Okaka areas]. A friend whose farms is located in Oke Odan in Ogun state hit cucumber jackpot on day with one hectare, he harvested 60 bags and sold each bag for N3000, and he harvested the cucumber five(5) times but the 60 bags was the peak.
Cucumber requires flat land with loamy soil for optimum production the land should be plowed, harrowed and free of debris of previous crops. The seed should be purchased from reputable source this is very important for market acceptability of the product.
The spacing in i.e. 1 meter between the rows and 1 meter along the rows.1m x 1m
TIME OF PLANTING
Under irrigation, cucumber can be planted at any time of the year but the source of water must not fail in mid-way. Natural rain fed, cucumber should be planted between March and April in the south, May in the middle belt and June in the far north. It does not tolerate too much damp and also will not preform if there is prolong drought. For the late season, planting is done in July in the north and August 15th- September 15th in the south. Cucumber is a premium crop and is also produced in green house. Planting in green house, is all year round.
SEED Various marketers bring seeds to the market but the widely accepted in Nigerian market in the royal seeds it is more popular than all the other brands of seeds.
CARE OF THE CROP
Planting, done at a spacing of 1m x 1m at a depth of no more more than 2 inches spray insecticide immediately after the emergence of the crop i.e. at two leaf stage. Cucumber is very susceptible to various diseases and pests.
Weed and spray insecticide 20 days after planting and apply first dose of fertiliser N.P.K. 15.15.15 in the south. 30 days after planting weed again to maintain a clean farm. Apply fertiliser if any deficiency is noticed. This time a foliar fertiliser is recommended as the cucumber has started flowering by this time.
Maturity is between 40-45 days. Cucumber is harvested manually preferably at 3 days interval to prevent ripening. Harvest the green matured fruits before they get ripe. Ripe fruits are not fit for the market. Regular harvesting also encourages flowering.
Cucumber should be washed on the farm and arranged in bags for the market immediately. When washing, take one fruit at a time to avoid bruising or rubbing the fruit on each other. If you pour the fruit in a basin of water, the fruit should not be more than 1 layer floating on the water. This is to avoid bruising as bruised fruit can easily contaminated and infect other fruits or promote mould growth. The unit of measuring cucumber all over Nigerian market is the poultry feed bag. Arrange carefully in the bag without bruising. The common cucumber market in Lagos is mile 12 market, Ketu market and Iyana Iba. The market days to target in mile 12 is Monday and Thursday.
The price of cucumber in the market is determined by supply. When it is in short supply it goes up to N6,000per bag and lowest price is N600 at the time of glut. The problem with Nigerian vegetable farmers is that storage facility and processing units are not available.
Like I told you earlier a friend was able to harvest 60 bags consecutively on 3 harvests the peak of harvesting and sold each bag for N3000. That is 180 x 3=N540,000 at the peak. I should not also fail to tell you that the last time I stopped planting cucumber, I did not see even one fruit to taste out of one hectare I lost the whole farm to the heavy rain fall in June. This happened because the time of planting was wrong.
Cucumber is susceptible to many diseases and pests like anthracnose, mildew, mosaic and pest like lady bird, beetles and grasshoppers. Spray insecticides at regular intervals to control the pests, and plant early to reduce the incidence of disease.