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Cucumber (Cucumis sativa) Production


Cucumis sativus, the garden cucumber, is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon and cantaloupe. The cucumber likely originated in India, where it appears to have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years, then spread to China. The Romans likely introduced it throughout Europe. Hundred of cultivars of varying size and color are now grown in warm areas worldwide, commercially and in home gardens.

Cucumber is a frost-sensitive annual—its heat requirement is greater than that for most common vegetables, and in northern climates, it is often grown in greenhouses or hoop houses. It has a hairy climbing, trailing, or creeping stem, and is often grown on frames or trellises. Leaves are hairy and have 3–5 lobes; branched tendrils at leaf axes support climbing. Plants are usually monoecious (male and female flowers on separate plants), but varieties show a range of sexual systems. Female flowers are yellow with 5 petals, and develop into a cylindrical fruit, which may be as large as 60 centimeters (24 in) long and 10 centimeters (3.9 in) in diameter. The color ranges from green to yellow to whitish; in many varieties, fruits are bicolored with longitudinal stripes from stem to apex.

Some varieties produce seedless fruit without pollination, but others are most productive with pollination by various bee species. Hives of honeybees, Apis mellifera are often transported to cucumber fields just before flowering time, but bumblebees (Bombus spp.) and other bee species can also serve as pollinators.

The numerous varieties of cucumbers have been categorized in diverse ways. One general classification is to group them as “slicing,” which are large and smooth- but somewhat tough-skinned and generally eaten when green to avoid a bitter flavor; “pickling,” which are usually smaller, with prickly skins; and “burpless,” which include seedless varieties as well as long, narrow, Asian types.

When mature, the cucumber fruit is 90% water, and is not particularly high in nutrients, but its flavor and texture have made it popular for use as a fresh addition to salads, as well as pickled and prepared in relishes. In Africa, cucumber seeds are used to make an oil for use in salads and cooking. Cucumbers are also used in skin tonics and other beauty aids.

In 2009, total production of cucumbers and gherkins (which can refer to a cucumber variety but also to fruit of the related Cucumis anguria) was 60.6 million tons, harvested from 2 million hectares. China was by far the largest producer, with a harvest of 44.3 million tons; Turkey, Iran, and the Russian Federation followed, producing 1–2 millon tons, and the U.S. ranked 5th, with 888 thousand tons. Within the U.S., Florida, California, Georgia, and Michigan are generally leading producers.


Land preparation

Cucumber can be grown in any location as long as there is sunshine, and water supply. However, it performs best in rich humid soil. It is advisable that you choose a farm land that is located in an area that is humid and highly fertile, if you want to struggle less and save operational cost – a farm land close to a water bed is ideal.

You will spend more on irrigation if you choose to cultivate cucumber in an area with scarcity of rain and far from a river, then you will spend more on irrigation. Make good and proper enquiries on the location to start your own cucumber farm if it is to be cultivated on a commercial scale. Once you are able to secure your farm land, then the next thing to do is to prepare the land before planting your cucumber seedlings. Preparation includes:

  • Clearing all the grasses in the land,
  • Tilling the land
  • Application of fertilizer (especially if you are not interested in organic farming)
  • Dig holes of about 2.5cm deep to plant the cucumber seeds
  • Ensure that each hole is spaced 40cm apart to allow for good growth. You can also prepare your cucumber farm land (in rows and columns) to allow for easy passage of both human and tractors for the purpose of watering, weeding and harvesting. (




Apart from sufficient sunlight, water and soil conditions, the next most important factor that will determine how successful your cucumber farming business will be is the variety of seed you plant. There are different varieties of cucumber and the type you choose will decide the type of harvest you get. Questions needed to be asked in getting a good variety of cucumber seeds includes:

  • Is it a local or a foreign seed?
  • Is it an open or a closed seed?
  • Are the seeds general or hybrid?

These and more are the things you find out before ever purchasing seed for planting. Some seeds can produce 1 tonne of cucumber per hectare each harvest, others can produce 500 kg, 200 kg, even as low as 50 kg. And some can produce up to 2-3 tonnes. (


Recommended variety

  • Burpless Bush Hybrid is a popular bush form of cucumber.
  • Boston Pickling’ is our favorite heirloom variety bred especially for pickling.
  • We also recommend disease-resistant ‘Sassy’ or ‘Calypso’ for early yields.
  • Long, thin ‘Parisian Pickling’ is great for making gherkins or cornichons.
  • Lemon cucumber is a smaller cucumber many folks find reliable.



Cucumber seedlings are transplanted outside in the field no earlier than 2 weeks after last frost date. Cucumbers are extremely susceptible to frost damage; the soil must be at least 70ºF for germination. Do not plant outside too soon. Before transplanting,

  • Select a site with full sun.
  • Soil should be neutral or slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.0
  • Mix in compost and/or aged manure before planting to a depth of 2 inches and work into the soil 6 to 8 inches deep, as cucumbers requires a fertile soil. Make sure that soil is moist and well-drained, not soggy.
  • Improve clay soil by adding organic matter. Improve dense, heavy soil by adding peat, compost or rotted manure. (Get a soil test if you are unsure of your soil type; contact your local county cooperative extension.)
  • Light, sandy soils are preferred for northern gardens, as they warm quickly in the spring. See our guide to soil amendments.
  • Seedlings should be planted one-inch-deep and about 36 to 60 inches apart, depending on variety. For vines trained on a trellis, space plants 1 foot apart.
  • Start cucumber seeds indoors about 3 weeks before you transplant them in the ground, for an early crop. They like bottom heat of about 70ºF (21ºC). If you don’t have a heat mat, put the seeds flat on top of the refrigerator or perch a few on top of the water heater.
  • If you live in the cooler climates, you can help warm the soil by covering the hill or row with black plastic.
  • Once the ground is warm, mulch with dried leaves, chopped leaves, or another organic mulch to keep pests at bay, and also keep bush types off the ground to avoid disease.
  • A trellis is a good idea if you want the vine to climb, or if you have limited space.

Trellising helps to protect fruit from damage and from laying on moist ground.


Pest and Disease of Cucumber

  • It’s not usually a disease when a cucumber plant does not fruit. It could be as a result of pollination problem. Both female and male flowers must be blooming at the same time. This may not happen early in the plant’s life, so be patient. (Female flowers are the ones with a small cucumber-shaped swelling at the base that will become the fruit.)
  • Lack of fruit may also be due to poor pollination by bees, especially due to rain or cold temperatures, or insecticides. To rest assured, you could always hand pollinate. (Dip a Q-tip into the male pollen and transfer it to the centre of the female flower.)
  • Remember, gynoecia’s hybrids require pollinator plants.
  • Squash bugsmay attack seedlings.
  • Aphidsare always a nuisance for any vegetable plant but easily managed.
  • Powdery mildewcan be a problem if the leaves get wet (water at the soil level). Apply fungicides at the first sign of its presence.
  • Cucumber Beetlesmay attack the vines and can cause disease.







It is most likely to handle most of the labour yourself and only employ people for difficult tasks like making the beds, if you are starting cucumber business in Nigeria on a small scale, say with about a plot of land. However, if you intend to start big, you will definitely need to hire labour as a guide and the minimum you will pay a labourer per month is N20, 000. Since most promising businesses fail as a result of lazy or incompetent labour, it is recommended that you start small and build up your labour force gradually with hardworking and trusted employees.


As mentioned earlier, the major component of cucumber is water, hence, there’s must be constant supply of water. If you want to grow a successful cucumber farm in Nigeria, securing a good land and an adequate supply of water are necessary.

If you don’t have constant supply of water, your cucumber will look unkempt and will taste bitter. Therefore, when you harvest a bitter cucumber, you know what that implies- nobody will buy your cucumbers and you as well you get low profits.


Harvest and Marketing

Cucumber fruits for fresh consumption are harvested before they are fully mature; depending on the type this can be 1–2 weeks after flowering. The moment of first harvest is 40–60 days after sowing, depending on climate and cultivar. Harvesting is done every other day to every few days.

Cucumbers are always in high demand, therefore, you are likely not going to struggle to market your cucumber. The fact that cucumbers are generally consumed all over the world because of its health values makes the vegetable very easy to market. So all you need to do is to inform locals that you have cucumber to sell and they will come rushing to your farm. You can also become a major supplier to companies who are into the processing of cucumbers. Also, you can have the option of either sell in wholesale or retail your cucumbers in a fruit / vegetable market around you. Just ensure that your cucumbers are big, green and attractive and you will struggle less to attract customers.

Lastly, ensure that the right use of pest control is utilized so that your cucumber can come out beautiful. Another option that you can choose if you want to go into cucumber farming is to go the organic way. Cucumbers that are grown organically are more expensive than normal cucumber and you stand the chance of making more profit.



Cucumbers play an important support role as crunchy ingredients for many food dishes, from garden salads to sweet pickles.
Global sales from cucumbers exports by country amounted to US$2.3 billion in 2016.
Overall, the value of cucumbers exports were up by an average 9% for all exporting countries since 2012 when cucumbers shipments were valued at $2.1 billion. Year over year, the value of global cucumbers exports appreciated by 6.2% from 2015 to 2016.
Among continents, Europe accounted for the highest dollar worth of exported cucumbers during 2016 with shipments valued at $1.3 billion or 57.3% of globally exported cucumbers. In second place were North American exporters at 32.4% while 9% of worldwide cucumbers shipments originated from Asia. Smaller percentages came from Latin America excluding Mexico (0.8%), Africa (0.5%) and Oceania mostly Australia and New Zealand (0.02%).

The 6-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix for fresh or chilled cucumbers and gherkins is 070700. Gerkhins refer to a small variety of cucumber or a young green cucumber used for pickling.


Cucumbers Exporting Companies

According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following exporters are examples of cucumbers-trading exporters. The home-country location for each business is shown within parentheses:

  • AA Group, S. COOP. (Spain)
  • Aalia Gmbh (Germany)
  • Beverages Development Kft (Hungary)
  • Camill Alimentos S/A (United States)
  • Harma Fruit Christos H. Kelesides & Partners (Greece)
  • Immortal Produce Co. (Jordan)
  • Jose Rene Silva Anguiano (Mexico)
  • Milexim (Turkey)
  • Yekta Novin (Mobin) (Iran)
  • Yunnan Chuntian Agricultural Products Co. (China)


The World Leaders in Cucumber Production

Cucumber production varies as much as any vegetable product, but China goes unchallenged as the top producer.

Cucumbers and gherkins are thought to have originated long ago in India, specifically between the Bay of Bengal and the Himalayan Mountains. Cucumbers and gherkins are probably among the oldest crops on the Indian subcontinent, and they are usually classified together because they belong to the same species, even though they are from different cultivar groups. Other research claims that their origins are from tropical Africa and Egypt, where they are thought to have been used by people for many generations. Today, Egypt remains among the largest producers of cucumbers and gherkins in the world. Interestingly enough, India, on the other hand, is not among the largest global producers. However, there is negligible domestic consumption, and almost all of its produce is exported, which makes it one of the world’s largest exporters of the vegetable.

For quite some time now, China has been standing in the number one spot as the world’s largest producer of cucumbers and gherkins. Following the Chinese cucumber farming sector are those of countries such as Turkey and Iran well to its West. These three countries have been able to maintain the top three positions for most of the new millennium, with China estimated to produce around three-fourths of the global total every year. In fact, there were an amazing 54.3 million tons of these vegetables produced in China last year. The same cannot be said of countries like the US, where production of these commodities has gradually decreased, with a reduction in annual output of about 20% since 2000. The same trend is being seen in Japan, while countries like Spain are actually moving upwards in cucumber production rankings. Japan’s decrease was largely influenced by catastrophic disasters that have been experienced in the past decade, as has been the case in Thailand. However, they remain to be among the top producers of cucumber and gherkins globally.


Shifts in Global Cucumber Production

Spain produced approximately 754,400 tons of cucumber and gherkins, which is a significant increment over that seen the previous year. Spain’s primary vegetable export trading partner continues to be Germany, where it supplies at least 37% of the demand for cucumbers and gherkins in terms of monetary value. Countries such as the Netherlands and Mexico have been able to maintain their positions among the top global suppliers of cucumber last year. Russia, meanwhile, is expected to maintain its position for some years to come, because domestic consumption of cucumbers in Russia is high and shows no signs of slowing down. According to recent market reports, Belarus is among the fastest growing exporters of cucumber and gherkins in the world, with an estimated increase of 11.3% in export value per year.


Cucumbers Grown in North America

The US production of the vegetable was approximately 747.6 thousand tons last year, which was a marked decline in comparison to years past. For example, in 2010, U.S production of cucumbers and gherkin was 1.42 million tons. Countries like Mexico and Canada are the top destination for most US-produced cucumbers and gherkins, although they each produce a good deal of such produce themselves. Specifically, Mexico had a 637.4-thousand-ton annual production of these vegetables at last count, much higher than Canada’s 222.9 thousand tons of cucumber and gherkin produced per year. The trend seems to vary from year to year as, in previous years Canada had held a much stronger position.


A Vegetable of Commerce

Cucumbers and gherkins can be grown in many areas, and their production can be optimized if there is support from the relevant government bodies to develop better seeds and combat such attackers as fruit flies. The issues of import duties for jars or even bulk packing can also be causes for countries with high growing potentials, like India and the US, not doing better in the rankings. While not offering much of a nutritional punch, a global love for crunchy cucumbers has made these agricultural commodities an important contributor to the economies of many countries around the world.


The World Leaders in Cucumber Production

Rank CountryCucumbers and Gherkins Produced (tons)
3Iran (Islamic Republic of)1,570,078
4Russian Federation1,068,000
7United States of America747,610
18South Korea254,576
20Saudi Arabia226,180


To View Trends, Analysis and Statistics on cucumber market report click the link below


Seed source and price