Cucumber farming in Nigeria is one of the most profitable farming ventures anyone can do. As a matter of fact, cucumber farming is called Farmers’ Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in Nigeria because of its ability to make a farmer earn good income within a short time. As a profitable as cucumber farming can be, it can also be a loss making business if you do not implement good agronomic practices.
Cucumber farming involves the cultivation of cucumbers with the aim of harvesting and marketing the cucumber fruits for consumption or for sales to the public. Cucumber farming starts from soil preparation to the marketing of the harvested cucumber fruits.
Step by Step Guide on How to Start Cucumber Farming
The following are the steps to take to grow cucumbers in Nigeria:
- Site Selection
- Climatic Conditions Requirement
- Get a Business Plan
- Soil Requirement
- Land Preparation for Cucumber Farming
- Varieties of Cucumbers to Plant
- Direct Sowing or Nursery
- Staking of Cucumber Plants
- Application of Fertilizers
- Weed Control
- Pest Control in Cucumber Farming
- Disease Control
- Post-Harvest and Marketing
1. Site Selection
Cucumber will do well in a tropical environment. The farmland site should have a sandy loamy soil with abundant sunshine. The soil pH should be 5.5 – 6.7. There should be a good access road to the farmland so that produce can be easily evacuated to the market.
Farm site location should have a temperature of 18 – 35 Celsius. Cucumbers are known to survive temperature as high as 40 Celsius.
Cucumber can grow in all areas in Nigeria.
2. Climatic conditions for cucumber farming
Cucumbers can do well in tropical environments like Nigeria. Cucumbers do well under sun especially when there is enough water for its growth. Cucumbers can be cultivated in all areas in Nigeria.
The climatic conditions in southern Nigeria and northern Nigeria favour the cultivation of cucumbers. Even in the near temperate conditions of Plateau State, Obudu and Mambilla Plateau, cucumbers can be cultivated.
Cucumber plants can survive in temperatures between 15- 40 Celsius, though the optimum growth temperature is about 25 Celsius. Cucumber plants will not do well in very cold or very hot climates. Too hot temperature can lead to flower abortion in cucumber plants, flower abortion can significantly reduce yield in cucumber plants.
3. Get a Business Plan
To engage in cucumber farming, a business plan has to be written. The cucumber farming business plan should have the expected cost, expected revenue and expected profit. All the factors that can impact the cucumber farming venture must be explained in the business plan.
4. Soil Requirement
Cucumber needs a sandy loamy soil with a pH of 5.5 – 6.7. The soil should also have a lot of organic matter in order to guarantee a high yield for the cucumber crop.
5. Land Preparation for Cucumber Farming
Cucumbers can grow well in all the types of soil present in Nigeria. Be it loamy, clay or sandy soil, cucumber plants will thrive well under all these types of soil. If your soil is too acidic or it has a lot of alkaline, your cucumber yields will not be optimal.
If you want to cultivate cucumbers in the rain forest belt of Nigeria, especially if your farmland is virgin, you will need to use bulldozers to take off the trees and other types of vegetation on the farmland. Extreme care should be exercised so that the top soil will not be removed. If the top soil is removed, the cucumber plants will not do well at all.
In the savannah areas in Nigeria, land preparation is fairly easy as there are little or no trees. Tractors and even cows can be used to plough and harrow farmlands in the savannah belt of Nigeria. Land preparation in the savannah belt is far cheaper than the rain forest belt of the country.
After the removal of trees, stumps and vegetation on farmlands, plough can be done. For some types of soil, plough can be done twice. After ploughing, you will need to harrow the farmland. It is advisable to apply a lot of farm yard manure or chicken manure on your soil when doing land preparation for cucumber farming. Nematicides can also be added to the soil if the soil is infected with nematodes. Ridging can also be done after harrowing of the land.
Please note that the process of ploughing, harrowing and ridging is done by tractors. Though, some small scale farmers use animals like cows.
6. Cucumber Varieties in Nigeria
There are a lot of cucumber varieties in Nigeria. There are hybrid cucumber varieties and open pollinated cucumber varieties. The hybrid varieties are more expensive than the open pollinated varieties because they have better pest and disease resistance ability; they also have higher yields than the open pollinated varieties.
Some open pollinated cucumber varieties include Marketmore and Poinsett. Some examples of hybrid cucumber seeds include Murano F1, Tokyo F1, Darina F1, Greengo F1, Monalisa F1, Nandini F1 and other cucumber seeds etc.
7. Irrigation for Cucumber Farming
I have never seen anyone who made super normal yield and profit in cucumber farming in Nigeria without using drip irrigation. If you really want to have a good yield in your cucumber farm, you need to use irrigation especially drip irrigation.
Drip irrigation will enable you to apply fertilisers daily to your cucumber plants; this process can improve your yield by as much as 200%. I have seen a cucumber farmer who had a 200 percent increase in yield because he fertigated nutrients daily.
Drip irrigation in cucumber farming also allows all year round cultivation of cucumbers. A cucumber farmer can always cultivate his crops and make good money all year round.
Drip irrigation also allows farmers to reduce the cost of fertilization and cost of labour. With drip irrigation, the cost of labour of applying fertilisers by hand can be significantly reduced. Drip irrigation enabled fertigation also allows for the reduction in the use of fertilisers.
8. Direct Sowing of Cucumber Seeds or Nursery
In cucumber farming in Nigeria, direct sowing of seeds is advised. Though, some farmers use nursery in order to conserve seeds, I do not advise it. Transplanting of cucumber seedlings can be tricky; cucumber seedlings are susceptible to transplant shocks.
With direct sowing method, you do not need to transplant the seedlings. You simply plant the seeds in small holes and cover the holes with soil.
9. Staking in Cucumber Farming
Staking is one of the most important tasks in cucumber farming. Yes, some cucumber farmers do not stake but they hardly achieve high yields. When you leave your cucumber plants to crawl on the soil, they are likely to get infected. The cucumber fruits can also get infected and get rotten.
Staking can be done with the use of bamboo or planks, binding wires and ropes. Staking nets can also be used for staking of cucumber plants. Staking can improve the health of cucumber plants and their fruits.
10. Application of Fertilisers
The first process in adding fertilisers or nutrients to your cucumber plants is to do a soil analysis or test. A soil test will reveal the types and levels of nutrients in your soil. This will guide you as to the type of fertilisers or nutrients to use for your cucumber plants.
You should be very careful when doing soil tests in laboratories in Nigeria. A lot of laboratories in Nigeria do give false results; this can lead to a disaster in your plans of making good money in cucumber farming.
Farm yard manure or chicken manure should be applied to your soil in good quantity. Manures can improve the structure of your soil whilst also providing nutrients to the crops cultivated on the soil. They also help in the retention of water and nutrients. 1-6 tonnes of chicken manure can be added to one hectare farmland before planting your cucumber seeds. Please apply manure as per the instructions of your agronomist or soil scientist.
Base dressing of fertilisers should be done after the application of manure. Fertilisers like NPK, Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), Single Super Phosphate (SSP) fertilizer, calcium nitrate and calmag etc can be used for the base dressing of soil. Cucumber plants need more of phosphorus at its initial stage, hence the suggestion for the use of high phosphatic fertilisers at the initial stage of planting.
After the application of a high phosphatic fertilizer at the initial stage of planting, a fertilizer with a high content of nitrogen should be used during the vegetative stage. Nitrogen increases the leaf mass of plants, when leaves are big, they capture more sunlight for photosynthesis, this can increase the yield of crops. Calcium fertilisers are also good for disease prevention. They help in improving the quality of the fruits of plants. Calcium nitrate and calmag are especially very useful in cucumber farming.
During flowering and fruiting, fertilisers with a high content of potassium and calcium should be used for cucumber plants. Fertilisers like potassium nitrate and potassium sulphate can improve the quality of flowers and fruits. Potassium nitrate can also make cucumber plants tolerate stress like inadequate water, excessive heat and excessive cold.
If you are using drip irrigation for your cucumber cultivation, all these fertilisers can be fertigated through drip irrigation venture injectors or dosing pumps. Fertigation is the process of passing fertilizer solutions or nutrients to plants through drip irrigation emitters. Fertigation is much more efficient than hand application of fertilisers.
Never forsake calcium fertilisers. What I have noticed in cucumber farming in Nigeria is that a lot of farmers do not use any calcium fertilizer. Calcium is the king of nutrients; it is also the trucker of all nutrients. Without calcium, other nutrients cannot be used by plants. Calcium can also make your crops very rugged so that they can be more prepared to tolerate pests, diseases and other stressors. Calcium may also enable your cucumber fruits to stay longer without getting spoilt or bad.
As good as fertilisers may be, the over application of some nutrients can spell doom to your crops. For example, excessive usage of nitrogen can make your crops or plants more susceptible to pests and diseases; it can also make the fruits more likely to get spoilt within a short time. Nitrogen can reduce the brix of your cucumber fruits. Low brix can affect the quality, texture and taste of the cucumber fruits.
11. Weed Control in Cucumber Farming
Plastic mulch can be used on your cucumber farm to prevent the growth of weeds. Plastic mulch can also help in conserving water and the fertilisers applied to your cucumber farm.
Weeding can be done by hand with the use of hoes, cutlasses and rakes. Weeders in form of brush cutters and other machine like weeders can also be used.
Some people use herbicides in the controlling of weeds in cucumber farming. I do not advise the use of herbicides as they contribute to the reduction in yields in cucumber farming, despite the fact that they help in controlling weeds.
Do not allow any weeds on your cucumber farm; weeds can reduce your cucumber crop yield by as much as 98%. Good plough and harrowing can bury weeds and their seeds.
12. Pest Control in Cucumber Farming
Cucumber plants attract a lot of pests and diseases. As a matter of fact, most cucumber farmers start seeing insects and other pests on their cucumber plants with a few days of planting.
Pests that attract cucumber plants include thrips, aphids, insects, beetles, grasshoppers, fruit borers, whiteflies and nematodes etc. Not well cured manures can bring a lot of pests to your farm. For example, wet manure can introduce cut worms to your farm. Cut worms damage cucumber plants by cutting the seedlings at the stem level.
A cucumber farmer should ensure that the manure he wants to apply on his farmland is well cured and free of pests. Biopesticides and microbial innoculants can be added to the manure to speed up decomposition and to attack any pests in it. Neem cake can also be mixed to the manure.
To control pests like insects, fruit borers, aphids, mites and thrips on cucumber plants, good insecticides can be used. You should not use one type of insecticide all the time, this can lead to resistance issue. Neem oil added with soap can also be used for pest control; this is good for organic farmers.
Insecticides are used to control insects, acaricides or miticides are used to control mites and nematicides are used to control nematodes. Nigeria is a unique country; you have to be very careful when buying pesticides. A lot of the pesticides sold in Nigeria are sub-standard.
13. Control of Diseases in Cucumber Farming in Nigeria
Downy mildew remains the commonest and deadliest disease in cucumber farming in Nigeria. A lot of people believe downy mildew is a fungal infection, this is not too true. Downy mildew is caused by oomycetes, oomycetes are not true fungi but they share a lot of attributes with common fungi. Downy mildew makes the leaves of cucumber plants turn brownish and yellowish; it also causes defoliation and death of leaves. Downy mildew affects the photosynthetic ability of plants, once your cucumber plants cannot produce food for itself through photosynthesis; the yield of the cucumber plants reduces significantly.
Downy mildew can reduce the yield of cucumber plants by up to 98%. It is a very deadly disease. In the case of downy mildew, prevention is better than cure. Your cucumber plants should be well fed with nutrients, good fungicides should be used once a week. During the rainy season, you may use different types of fungicides several times in a week.
Neem oil and biopesticides can also be used to ward off diseases in cucumber farming in Nigeria. The secret of disease control is prevention. Prevention is always better than cure.
Cucumber harvest is done after 35 – 50 days of planting. Cucumber plants reach maturity within a short time. Harvest should be done every 2 – 3 days. Refusal to harvest on time may make the cucumber fruits turn yellow and render them unmarketable.
Delayed harvest can also lead to a reduction in crop yield.
15. Post-Harvest and Marketing
The post-harvest activities in cucumber farming include sorting, grading, transportation and storage of the freshly harvested cukes or cucumbers.
Cucumbers can be sold in the open market or in the more organized markets like supermarkets and spars.
Stages of Growth in Cucumber Plants
Cucumber crop planted in the open field in Nigeria generally last for between 70 – 110 days depending on management.
In greenhouses, cucumber plants can last for up to 6 months if properly managed. In the open field in Nigeria, most hybrid cucumber varieties start fruiting as from the 37-45th day. Harvesting is expected to be done every 2-3 days. Leaving big fruits on your cucumber plants without harvesting them will reduce your overall yield as the big fruits will not allow new fruits to emerge.
Cucumber plants start flowering from the 28th day, though some varieties start flowering at a later date. Please note that open pollinated cucumber varieties do not fruit as early as the hybrid varieties.
Harvesting in cucumber plants start from 38-45 days especially if the variety is hybrid. Hybrid cucumbers variety lasts longer than the open pollinated varieties especially if stored in a cool and dry place.
Cucumbers are ready for harvest when they are big and still green in colour. Cucumber fruits left for too long on the plant will change in colour. Discolored cucumber fruits are not marketable. A cucumber farmer should ensure that his cucumber fruits are harvested on time.
It is better you sell your cucumber fruits immediately after harvest. Cucumber fruits will lose quality if you keep them for a very long time after harvest.
Open Field Cucumber Farming
Cucumber farming is mostly done in the open field in Nigeria. Open filed cultivation of cucumbers does not need any protected covering or house. From our experience, about 98% of the cucumber farmers in Nigeria cultivate cucumbers in the open field.
Open field cultivation of cucumbers is not as expensive as the use of greenhouses. All a farmer needs is to get a farmland, prepare the soil, make ridges, fertilise the soil and plant his cucumber seeds. Staking is very important in open field cultivation of cucumbers.
In the open field cultivation of cucumbers, the use of pesticides is very important because the plants do not have covering that can shield them from pests. Staking is done with the use of bamboo or planks, binding wire and ropes. Staking can also be done with the use of cucumber staking nets.
Cucumber Farming under Greenhouse
Cucumbers can be grown in greenhouses. As a matter of fact, cucumbers grown in greenhouses do have a longer harvesting interval than those grown in open field.
A greenhouse is an enclosed structure used for the cultivation of crops. The enclosed nature of greenhouses protects the crops from some kind of pests.
Greenhouses allow for intensive cultivation of crops. More fertilisers and inputs are used per cucumber plant in greenhouses than open field. The high density planting allowed in greenhouses also make each cucumber plant in a greenhouse to have a higher yield than cucumber plant in the open field.
Most of the cucumber farmers in Nigeria do not use greenhouses because of the huge capital needed and the expertise needed to manage it.
Organic Cucumber Farming in Nigeria
A lot of people now eat organic foods because of the acclaimed health benefits. Yes, cucumbers can be cultivated under organic conditions. Organic farming does not encourage the use of chemicals in any form at all. In organic farming, the use of manure, compost, biopesticides, microbial innoculants and organic soaps are encouraged.
Neem oil for example can be used for the control of nematodes, insects, mites and thrips. It is also very effective in the control of whiteflies. There are some beneficial microbes that can be used for the control of insects and pests in cucumber farming.
Yield of cucumber
A one acre cucumber farm in Nigeria can yield up to 30 tonnes. It is not uncommon for cucumber farmers in Nigeria to harvest up to 600 – 700 bags per acre. A bag of cucumbers weight about 40kg. Farmers who do not implement good agricultural practices get poor yields in Nigeria.
The yield of your cucumber farm will depend on the soil fertility, types of fertilisers used, control of pests and diseases, availability of water, level of weeds, weather and other factors.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Cucumber Farming (FAQ)
a) Question: How do I get good cucumber seeds to plant?
Answer: You can contact Veggie Concept on 08025141924
b) Question: Do I need drip irrigation for cucumber farming?
Answer: Yes, drip irrigation can be used to grow cucumbers. As a matter of fact, it can increase the yield of cucumber significantly.
c) Question: Is cucumber farming lucrative in Nigeria?
Answer: Yes, cucumber farming is very profitable. As a matter of fact, it is called farmers’ ATM. Please see our cucumber farming business plan.
d) Question: Do cucumbers have seasons when it comes to sales?
Answer: Cucumbers can be grown all year round in Nigeria.
e) Question: How long does it take cucumber to grow?
Answer: Cucumber takes about 40 – 55 days after planting before it fruits.
f) Question: Can dry season cucumber farming be practised in Nigeria?
Answer: Yes, dry season cucumber farming can be practised with irrigation in Nigeria.
Should you need more information on cucumber farming, kindly contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.