Alternative Opportunities For Small Farms: Pickling Cucumber Production Review ( Publisher's URL )

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Alternative Opportunities For Small Farms: Pickling Cucumber Production Review
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Fact sheet
University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Melanie Mercer.
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"Date first printed: June 1987. Revised: July 1997."
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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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1.This document is Fact Sheet RF-AC022, one of a series of the Extension Administration, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences, Universit y of Florida. Date first printed: June 1987. Revised: Jul y 1997. Please visit the FAIRS Website at The Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without re g ard to race, color, sex, a g e, handicap, or national ori g in. For information on obtainin g other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean 2.G. J. Hochmuth, professor, Horticultural Sciences Department; T. Ta y lor, professor, Food and Resource Economics Department; K.C. Ruppert, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences, Universit y of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.Fact Sheet RF-AC022Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms: Picklin g Cucumber Production Review1 G.J. Hochmuth, T. Ta y lor, and K.C. Ruppert2Approximately 5000 acres of pickling-type cucumbersAlthough no specific cost of production data for are produced annually in Florida with the crop aboutpickling cucumbers produced in Florida are available, cost equally divided between fall and spring seasons. Thedata for Louisiana producers can be used as a rough majority of the crop is produced on the sandy soils nearindication of production costs. At an assumed yield of 90 Palmetto, Stuart, and on the rockland of Dade County. cwt. per acre for the 1984 season, production costs were Most of the Florida crop is shipped out of state to pickling$980 per acre. Break-even price to cover all costs at 90 processors, some as far away as Illinois. Depending oncwt. per acre would be about $11/cwt.; to cover variable the market price, some of the crop may be sold on the freshcost the price would have to be greater than, or equal to market.about $9.00/cwt. The production of pickling cucumbers is limited mostly by foliar and fruit diseases and insects with careful and timely spray programs required. Other limiting factors include the large amount of hand labor required for harvesting (although this might be obviated by machine harvest), postharvest handling problems, and marketing. Increases in the production of pickling cucumbers will depend on locating additional northern processors or on developing processing facilities or fresh market outlets in Florida.Marketin g SituationThe average yield of pickling cucumbers in Florida is approximately 90 cwt. per acre. The average price received is approximately $16 per cwt. Early crops in the spring or winter can be very profitable ($20 or more per 1 1/9-bu. crate) for fresh market. More often the fresh market crop brings $8 to $10 per crate with cucumbers for processing usually bringing much less.Labor and CapitalBecause of the relatively rapid growth, pickling cucumbers should be harvested 3 to 4 times a week if done by hand. If a once-over machine is used, harvesting is done when fruit 1 to 2 inches in diameter are first observed. Hand harvesting should be done when the vines are dry to prevent the spread of foliar diseases. The fruit should be harvested into clean, plastic containers, washed in chlorinated water, and graded by a carefully designed grading machine which does not bruise fruit. The price received for pickling cucumbers is related to the fruit size with the smaller sizes commanding a higher price.Suitabilit y Pickling cucumbers can be grown on any soil type although heavy clay soils should be avoided because of difficulty in cleansing the fruit. Sandy soils can be used if careful attention is given to irrigation and


Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms: Picklin g Cucumber Production Review Pa g e 2June 1998fertility-especially nitrogen. Irrigation equipment must bebeetles, leaf miners, and aphids. The most serious available on sandy soils with approximately to l inchdiseases in Florida include belly rot, angular leaf spot, per week needed early to ensure uniform germination anddowny and powdery mildews, anthracnose, gummy stem stand establishment. During fruiting, 1 to 1 inches perblight, and viruses. Most of these can be controlled by week is required. Cucumbers are a warm-season crop andcareful variety selection and a sound preventative pesticide are seriously injured by cool temperatures (below 40 F). program. Pickling cucumbers could be produced on nearly a year-round basis in Florida with spring and fall cropsThe soil pH should be adjusted to 6.0 to 6.5. Unless possible in most areas and winter crops from Dadeoptimum magnesium is present in the soil, dolomitic County.limestone is the preferred liming material since it provides green color. Pickling cucumbers may require up to 120,Plantin g SituationWhen pickling cucumbers are grown for processing, the variety often is specified by the processor. Older pickling cucumber varieties were "monoecious," both male and female (fruiting) flowers are produced on the same plant. Modern varieties are gynoecious and bear predominately female flowers thus increasing the yield potential. These varieties are hybrids and also are more disease resistant and more uniform in maturation making some of them suitable for machine harvest. The pollen source of a gynoecious variety is usually a similar monoecious variety, seed of which is mixed with the gynoecious variety by the seed company. Presently recommended pickling cucumber varieties for Florida include Calypso, Carolina, and Napoleon. Pickling cucumbers should be grown in moderately high populations to achieve the highest yields providing fertility and irrigation practices are optimum. The seeds should be drilled approximately to inch deep using fungicide-treated certified seed. The crop can be grown in single-row fashion with 24 to 36 inches between rows and 3 to 4 inches between plants in a row. Where standing water from heavy rains might be a problem the crop should be grown on beds 4 to 6 inches high and 24 to 30 inches across with 4'-6' between bed centers. Two rows of cucumbers can be planted on each bed with 10 to 12 inches between the rows. Yield and quality of many vegetables are enhanced by the use of black plastic mulch. The mulch increases soil temperature, retains moisture and nutrients, and helps reduce weed competition.Cultural Pro g ramRecommended nematicides or rotation should be used since cucumbers are very sensitive to nematodes. Although many insects attack cucumbers, the most troublesome one is the pickle worm, the larvae of which burrows into the fruit. Complete control by insecticides is required by most pickle contracts. Other insects requiring control include cutworms, mole crickets, cucumber magnesium, a nutrient required by cucumbers for good, 120, and 120 lbs per acre of nitrogen (N), phosphate (PO) and potash (K0) respectively with the exact25 2amount determined by soil testing. An additional 30 lbs per acre of N and K0 might be required as a sidedress2following heavy rains. The basic application of N and K0, on unmulched sandy soils, should be split with2one-half incorporated in the bed area at planting and the remainder banded to the side of the plant at the 4-leaf stage. All phosphate and required micronutrients should be incorporated prior to planting. Weed competition, especially grassy weeds, can severely reduce production and although several chemicals offer fair control, manual weed control might be needed. Cucumbers are particularly sensitive to herbicides so past herbicide practices will have to be taken into account. In addition to other cultural requirements, about one honey bee hive per acre is needed to ensure ample pollination for good fruit set and size.