Cucumbers are a popular vegetable garden that can be grown in a home garden or in a commercial setting. Cucumbers are a cool-weather crop that can be planted early in the spring or late in the summer.
The cucumber is a vine that grows best when it is allowed to grow on a trellis. Cucumbers are a high-yield crop and can produce up to 20 pounds of cucumbers per vine. There are several ways to increase the yield of cucumbers. In this article, we will discuss some tips on how to increase cucumber yield production.
Choose the Right Variety of Cucumbers
Most gardeners choose cucumber variety based on what they want to use cucumbers for slicing or pickling. But if high yields and weights are important to you, then look for a high-yielding cucumber variety.
Gynoecious varieties are bred to produce only female flowers. All-female cucumber varieties first appeared in the late 1960s. Now, most commercial growers use these varieties to get more cucumbers per plant and have fields with about 90% female flowers.
Farmers that grow like this will use some rows of monoecious varieties to pollinate the all-female flowered gynoecious plants. You as a home gardener need to do the same.
Most seed packets that are gynoecious will include 10-15% monoecious seeds that will produce plants with both male and female flowers. The monoecious seeds will be colored with a marker or dye, so you can tell them apart. Make sure not to thin out the monoecious seedlings when you start them so that you leave some male flowers to pollinate the female flowers.
Choosing a variety with mostly female flowers will lead to more cucumbers because every female flower can become a cucumber. Combine getting a gynoecious species of cucumber with the below process of hand pollinating for a great cucumber yield.
Harvest Cucumbers On-Time and Regularly
One of the best and simplest things you can do to get more cucumbers per plant, regardless of variety, is to harvest at the correct time. You want to harvest cucumbers while they are still immature.
By picking while they are still immature, you will encourage the plant to keep producing cucumbers. If cucumbers are left on the vine until they reach full maturity, the plant will receive signals saying that its job is done, and the plant will slow down production.
The easiest way to know that it’s time to harvest is by the size of the cucumber. If you know the variety of cucumber you’re growing, you’ll know about what size you want to pick them at. You want to pick cucumbers while the diameter is less than 2″.
Any bigger than the 2″ diameter, or if you see any yellowing, it’s a sign that the cucumbers are reaching full maturity, and you should pick them immediately.
To harvest on time, it’s very helpful to know what variety you’re growing, so you know what length to harvest at. By knowing the cucumber variety well, you will also have an idea of when you should expect to start harvesting.
Most varieties take 50-70 days after the plant sprouts. Once you see a cucumber fruit starts, stay on top of them because they’re fast growers. Check on them every other day and continually harvest before they reach maturity.
A good signal to look for to know harvest time is coming is female flowers opening. Most cucumbers will have both male and female flowers on one plant. The male flowers will show up a week or two before the female flowers.
Once female flowers show up they can be pollinated and you can have a cucumber that’s ready to harvest in 7-15 days.
Grow Cucumbers On A Trellis
By growing cucumbers on a trellis, you’ll fit more cucumbers into a smaller space. This will increase the sunlight available to the cucumber plants’ foliage, leading to larger yields.
You’ll be able to more easily see what’s going on with the plants. It will make it easier to tell when harvest time is coming. The greater visibility will lead to more odds that you don’t miss one of the cucumbers turning yellow, reaching full maturity. That occasion will shut down the cucumber growth on that vine.
Another benefit of growing on trellises is more air circulation. Hanging above will avoid prolonged exposure to soil pests and diseases and rot from prolonged exposure to the wet ground.
Hand Pollinate Cucumbers
Another thing you can do to increase yields is by pollinating the female flowers by hand. Modern varieties of cucumbers have been bred to have more female flowers than males. By having this female to male flowers composition, so that they yield more fruit.
If this is the case with your cucumber plants, hand-pollinating is a good idea to make sure no female flower goes unused. You should also hand-pollinate if you grow cucumbers in a rainy area. Usually, rain hampers bee activity, so there are not many flowers and bees around your plants.
You can use a paintbrush or other things that resembles an electric toothbrush to move pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers. The video below shows how to tell male from female cucumber flowers and how to pollinate the female flowers by hand.
Prune for Growth
Another way to increase the production of cucumber plants is to pinch off the first few female flowers that appear. If the first female flowers that appear get pollinated and grow a successful cucumber, the plant will think it has done its job and produces less.
By pinching off the first few female flowers, the cucumber plant will produce more female flowers than it would have otherwise, which leads to many cucumbers plant produce.
Start Seedlings Inside For a Head Start
You can start seedlings inside 3-5 weeks before conditions are right to transplant them outside. Be sure to use a medium that you can transplant the whole unit into the ground to avoid disturbing the sensitive roots of the cucumber plants.
Use starter pots that are compostable or be very careful to avoid root shock when transplanting. No stress along the plant’s life cycle equals seamless growth.
Use Row Covers
Row covers can be used to protect young plants from the elements and increase the soil temperature by five degrees. You may be able to get your cucumber plants in earlier with less worry about the weather.
They also keep cucumber beetles and other pests at bay preventing foliage loss, stress, and potential disease.
Here is a non-toxic trap if you have pest problems with cucumber beetles or other pests of the Curcubit family like squash bugs. It uses pheromones to attract and sticky paper to trap them. I also recommend neem oil for any pests in the garden.
Proper Cucumbers Plant Spacing
The proper spacing will ensure the best use of soil and space, with the optimal return of cucumbers per space used. The spacing is different based on where you plant and grow the cucumbers.
Cucumbers should be planted about a week before the latest frost date. Once the cucumber has established its first two genuine leaves, thin to a single plant per pot by placing 3-4 seeds in each tiny pot filled with potting mix one inch deep.
Cucumber Spacing In Raised Beds
Planting on raised beds allows you to better control pests, sunlight, and nutrients. Every six inches down the longest section of the bed, spread the seeds of vine-forming kinds 1 inch deep in the soil. Thin the plants after they reach a height of half a foot, leaving a plant every 16-18 inches and a trellis for the plants to climb.
Cucumber Spacing In Ground-Level Beds
Cucumber plants in the ground should be spread out to allow for growth. Cucumbers grown in the ground are a quick and economical way for farmers, homesteaders, and the adventurous backyard gardener to transform dirt into food!
Plant seeds every six inches along a row for vining kinds. Allow the seeds to germinate and develop to a height of 4 inches before thinning to one plant every 16-18 inches. If you’re planting more than one row, space them out 5-6 feet apart to allow for airflow as well as access to your bounty when it’s time to harvest!
Cucumber Spacing In Containers
Gardeners have two alternatives when planting in pots in a patio garden. Vining cucumbers may be grown if they have access to a trellis or a wall for the cucumbers to attach themselves on as they climb. Grow in a big pot with a diameter of at least 18 inches and a height of at least 15 inches. Grow two cucumbers, at least 8 inches apart, in this size pot.
While they will grow together and overlap, the advantage of having two vines is that pollination rates will improve, resulting in more cucumber fruit! Before transferring or beginning seedlings, make sure you have a trellis or support system in place.
In conclusion, by following the tips mentioned in this article, you can increase your cucumber yield production and make your garden thrive. Remember to keep a close eye on your plants and do basic things to maintain your cucumber growth. These include how often watering cucumber, fertilization or compost for cucumbers, and pruning.
Following these simple tips should help to increase cucumber yield production and help to make this crop more profitable. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask a gardening expert.