Slicing Cucumber Planting Management
» Slicing cucumbers are planted by direct seeding and by transplanting seedlings.
» Cucumbers should be planted after soil temperatures reach 60 °F and the danger of frost has past.
» Between-row and with-in-row plant spacings for cucumber plantings vary by region and production system.
SITE SELECTION AND SOIL CONDITIONS
Slicing cucumbers should be planted in soils with good
water infiltration rates and water holding capacities. In
particular, good soil drainage is needed to reduce the risk of
Phytophthora blight. Avoid sites with compacted soils.
Cucumbers will grow best in light textured soils that warm
quickly in the spring. The soil pH should be between 5.8 and
6.6. Cucumbers grow well on high organic matter soils,
which have good nutrient holding capacities, but these types
of soils can stick to the fruit and be difficult to remove after
Avoid sites where air movement is poor, such as sites
surrounded by hedgerows or woods, as this can result in
prolonged periods of leaf wetness that leads to the
development of foliar and fruit diseases. Orient planting
rows to be parallel to the direction of the prevailing winds to
promote air movement in the canopy.2 Also, do not plant
cucumbers on sites that were treated with a triazine-based
herbicide in the previous year.4
Preseason soil analysis for nematodes and soil fertility levels
can help avoid locations with high root knot nematode
populations and help determine the amounts of fertilizers
that should be applied for optimal cucumber growth.3
The time of planting of a cucumber crop often needs to be
scheduled such that the harvest coincides with market
demand. The availability of labor and equipment at the time
of harvest, as well as likely environmental conditions, such as
the number of growing degree days, will also need to be
taken into account.3 If direct seeding following a cover crop,
wait two to three weeks after incorporation to allow time for
the cover crop debris to decompose and for any allelopathic
properties of the cover crop to diminish.2
Whether planting on bare ground or on mulch-covered
raised beds, the preparation of a good seedbed will allow
good emergence and promote quick stand establishment.3
When direct seeding, planting should take place only after
soil temperatures are consistently above 60 °F at a three to
four-inch depth (Figure 1), as cucumber seeds will not
germinate at temperatures below 60 °F.1,3 At 60 °F seed will
germinate in nine to sixteen days, while seed will germinate
in five to six days at 70 °F. Also, plant after the danger of
frost has passed. Chilling injury on leaves and cotyledons
can be seen following temperatures below 40 °F. Conversely,
cucumber plants will grow very slowly at temperatures
above 90 °F.5
In plasticulture systems where soil fumigation is used, the
plastic mulch, drip irrigation system, and soil fumigants are
put down about 30 days before field planting to allow time
for the fumigants to dissipate.6 Both direct seeding and
transplanting can be done directly through the plastic mulch
using specialized equipment, with one or two seed or
seedling(s) per hole.4
Most cucumber varieties have seed counts of 16,000 per
pound or 1,000 seed per ounce, and about two pounds of
seed are needed per acre for common spacings and plant
populations in hand-harvested operations.3
Recommendations for depth of seed placement vary
somewhat among regional production guides, with depths
of 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inch being most common.3 One Wisconsin
publication recommends planting depths of 3⁄4 to 1 1⁄2 inch.5
Shallower seeding depths are usually recommended when
planting in heavier soils, or when soil conditions are cool and
moist at planting. Planting too deep can result in delayed
emergence and uneven stands. Moisture levels should be
adequate at planting to promote consistent germination,
and dry soils should be irrigated prior to planting. Irrigation
after planting can lead to soil crust formation that can inhibit
With the cost of hybrid seed and labor, many growers are
using precision planters to reduce the number of seed
planted, to get more uniform plant stands, and to eliminate
the need for thinning.3 Belt, plate, and vacuum seeders can
be used for precision planting. Belt seeders require the use
of pelleted (spherical) seed, which is somewhat bulky and
can be more expensive. Belt seeders are also somewhat
slower than plate and vacuum seeders. Plate seeders are
faster than belt seeders and do not require the use of
pelleted seed, but they are not as precise as vacuum
seeders. Vacuum seeders are very precise, and they are
easy to adjust for different seeding rates.3
Cucumber seedlings are sensitive to root disturbance, and
rough handling during transplanting can lead to severe
stunting of plants and delay harvest. Therefore, care must
be taken to handle cucumber seedlings gently during
transplanting operations.3 To ensure that seedlings are
strong enough to be transplanted, grow seedlings in cell
trays with cell sizes of at least 1.5-inch diameter. The Knott’s
Handbook for Vegetable Growers indicates that cucumber
seedlings should be two to three weeks old at the time of
transplanting.7 However, other publications recommend
transplanting at four to six weeks.8
Spacing recommendations for cucumbers vary somewhat
among states and growing regions. For bare ground
production, University of Florida-IFAS guidelines recommend
planting on 48 to 60 inch rows, with a plant-to-plant, in-row
spacing of 6 to 12 inches.9 The Cornell Extension guidelines
recommend row spacings of 60 to 72 inches with in-row
spacings of 10 to 15 inches,10 and the Midwest Production
Guide recommends row spacings from 48 to 72 inches with
in-row spacings of 15 to 18 inches.11 However, planting with
6-inch in-row spacing is not uncommon in the Midwest. In
California, cucumbers are planted in 36 to 72-inch rows with
in-row spacings of 8 to 12 inches. However, in the Coastal
areas of Southern California, cucumbers are often direct
seeded three to five inches to the side of a drip line with a
20 inch in-row spacing on 60-inch beds.12
In plasticulture systems, cucumbers are often planted with
one or two rows per bed. In two row systems, a 10 to 18-
inch plant spacing is recommended for 48 to 72-inch beds,
with one (or sometimes two) plants per hole (Figure 2).9
It is common practice in some areas to plant strips of winter
rye between rows of cucumbers to provide protection from
cold winds and sand blasting and to reduce heat loss early
in the season. A strip of rye is planted every third to every
sixth row.2,3 The rye is planted in the fall, so some additional
planning is required. One problem with this practice is that
rye plants can harbor aphids, which may transmit viruses to
the cucumber crop.
1 Orzolek, M., Kime, L., Bogash, S., and Harper, J. 2010. Cucumber production. Penn State University Agricultural Alternatives. # UA463
2 Seaman, A. (editor). 2016. Organic production and IPM guide for cucumbers and squash. Cornell University Cooperative Extension. NYS IPM Publication No. 135.
3 Schultheis, J., Averre, C., Boyette, M., Estes, E., Holmes, G., Monks, D., and Sorensen, K. 2000. Commercial production of pickling and slicing cucumbers in North Carolina. NC State Extension Publications. AG-552.
4 Pfeufer, E., Bessin, R., Wright, S., and Strang, J. 2018. Vegetable production guide for commercial growers, 2018-19, University of Kentucky, Cooperative Extension Service.
5 Colquhoun, J., Gevens, A., Groves, R., Heider, D., Jensen, B., Nice, G., and Ruark, M.
6 Wyenandt, A., Kuhar, T., Hamilton, G., VenGessel, M., and Sanchez, E. 2016. Mid-Atlantic commercial vegetable production recommendations.
7 Maynard, D. N. and Hochmuth, G. J. 1997. Knott’s handbook for vegetable growers – 4th Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York, NY.
8 Drost, D. 2015. Vegetable transplant production. Utah State University Extension.
9 Vallad, G., Smith, H., Dittmar, P., and Freeman, J. 2017. Vegetable Production Handbook of Florida 2017-2018. UF-IFSA.
10 Reiners, S., Wallace, J., Curtis, P., Helms, M., Landers, A., McGrath, M., Nault, B., and Seaman, A. 2018. Cornell Integrated Crop and Pest Management Guidelines for Commercial Vegetable Production. Cornell Cooperative Extension.
11 Egel, D., Foster, R., Maynard, E., Weller, S., Babadoost, M., Nair, A., Rivard, C., Kennelly, M., Hausbedk, M., Szendra, Z., Hutchinson, B., Orshinsky, A., Eaton, T., Welty, C., and Miller, S. 2017. Midwest vegetable production guide for commercial growers 2018.
12 Schrader, W., Aguiar, J., and Mayberry, Y. 2002. Cucumber production in California. University of California. ANR Publication 8050.
For additional agronomic information, please contact your local seed representative. Developed in partnership with Technology Development & Agronomy by Monsanto.
Performance may vary from location to location and from yaer to year, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible and should consider the impacts of these conditions on the grower’s fields. The recommendations in this article are based upon information obtained from the cited sources and should be used as quick reference for information about cucumber production. The content of this article should not be substituted for the professional opinion of a producer, grower, agronomist, pathologist and similar professional dealing with this specific crop. SEMINIS DOES NOT WARRANT THE ACCURACY OF ANY INFORMATION OR TECHNICAL ADVICE PROVIDED HEREIN AND DISCLAIMS ALL LIABILITY FOR ANY CLAIM INVOLVING SUCH INFORMATION OR ADVICE. 180118122321 052518DME
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