Cucumber farming has gained ground in Nigeria. Most educated people starting out in farming prefer to try cucumber farming because of its money making potential.
Cucumbers are water filled pod like fruits that grow on vines. The leaves of cucumber plants are broad. Cucumber plants start producing fruits after 40-60 days of sowing of their seeds.
In the past, cucumbers are mostly cultivated in the northern part of Nigeria. States like Kaduna, Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Nasarawa, Kano, Kebbi, Taraba and Jigawa. Today, cucmber farming has been demystified, this crop is now cultivated in all states in Nigeria. Go to Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Rivers, you will see those engaging in cucumber farming.
Though a lot of Nigerians engage in cucumber farming, the yield is still abysmally low. In some locations in Nigeria, cucumber farmers record yields of less than 8 tonnes per acre. In the Netherland, cucumber farmers record yields of over 300 tonnes per acre when they plant this crop in a greenhouse.
Steps to take to be successful in cucumber farming
There are a lot of things you need to put in place before you can be successful in cucumber farming. The following steps should be taken:
You need to have the passion for farming. Passion will make you go on when things are not on your side. It is possible you get it wrong the first time you try your hands on cucumber farming but the passion you have for the business can make you try again. Success is the ability to turn your failures to successes. Just learn from your failures and try again.
Learning from an experienced cucumber farmer can significantly increase your chances of success. There are a lot of successful cucumber farmers around, just search for one and ask for an unpaid internship.
Watching Youtube videos on cucumber farming can also help a great deal. Go on the web and download videos and papers on cucumber farming.
You should get your farmland in a place that has good roads for easy evacuation of your produce. Fresh cucumbers can get spoilt within days so it is not advisable to get your farmland in a place that will take days to access due to bad roads.
The farmland should have a good topography. It should not be too undulating. Flat farmland is better. Sloppy farmland encourages erosion; this may negatively impact your crops.
Farmland can either be leased or outrightly acquired, just look at your cash flow and decide.
Soil and Water Analysis
A soil test reveals the pH of your soil; it also shows the level of nutrients in your soil. The test can show the level of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, boron and other micronutrients in the soil; this will guide the farmer on the type of fertilizers to apply to his cucumber farm.
Some types of soil test can show the diseases in the soil and the soil microbial count.
Water analysis will show the pH and the cation level of the water.
You will need to employ some farm hands if you want your cucumber farming business to be successful. For the unskilled jobs on your farm, immigrant farm hands from the Republic of Benin or Togo are better. They are more productive than most unskilled Nigerians who prefer to engage in Okada business than farming.
For a big cucumber farm, you may need to employ a technical person. Do not be deceived into employing degree holders in Agronomy or Crop Science who have no experience in farming. I have seen a lot of degree holders in non-agricultural fields who are vastly experienced in farming than those who claim to be agronomists.
Experience counts than any big paper qualification. You can poach experienced hands from nearby cucumber farms. Your staff can make or mar your cucumber farming business.
Water and Power
You need to sort out the source of water and power to the farm. Your farm should have a borehole or well or river or dam, just any good source of all year round water. The water will be used for irrigation. Anyone willing to engage in cucumber farming must farm all year round. Rain fed farming is not too profitable.
Power is key, if your farm is not around the public grid, you should use a generator to get power for your farm. Power will be used for irrigation and lightings if need be.
Choice of seed
You may either plant hybrid cucumber seeds or open pollinated cucumber seeds. Hybrid seeds are more expensive but they produce higher yields and they are disease resistant. Hybrid seeds have shorter maturity period. Open pollinated cucumber seeds are cheaper but the yields are not as high as hybrid seeds, they are also not as disease resistant as hybrid seeds.
The commonest hybrid cucumber seeds planted in Nigeria are Murano F1, Tokyo F1 and Darina F1. Some of the open pollinated cucumber seeds sold in Nigeria are marketer, poinsett and marketmore.
Drip irrigation is a trickle form of irrigation in which water is passed to the root or base of plants in a slow but highly efficient manner. With drip irrigation, you can save about 80% of water whilst also increasing your yield by 40-100%.
Drip irrigation does not encourage water run offs like other forms of irrigation. The slow dropping of water to the roots of plants make all the water passed to the plant to sink into the soil.
To make good money from cucumber farming, you need drip irrigation. Using sprayers or misters to irrigate your cucumber plants may lead to foliar fungal infections. Once the leaves of your cucumber plants turn yellow, photosynthetic capability is impacted and this leads to low yield as the plants will not have energy to produce fruits again.
With drip irrigation, you do fertigation, that is, fertiliser can be mixed in water and passed to your crops through the drip irrigation lines. You will significantly reduce the man hours needed for side dressing of fertilizers. Drip irrigation works for vegetables like tomato, pepper and eggplants etc.
Drip irrigation is the most efficient type of irrigation for cucumber farming.
To get good yields in cucumber farming, you should apply the right type of manure or fertiliser at the appropriate time. Do not drive blind by applying only NPK and urea. Refer to the result of your soil test and apply fertilizers as recommended.
Some of the types of fertilizers you can use if you engage in cucumber farming include calcium nitrate, mono ammonium phosphate, mono potassium phosphate, chelates, potassium sulphate, NPK, urea and magnesium sulphate etc.
Manure should be used to prepare your beds if your soil is spent or has a low cation exchange capacity.
Humates like fluvic acid and humic acid are very good for cucumbers. A high dose of fluvic acid can decontaminates your soil, improve CEC, beef up the count of beneficial microbes and kill all the harmful nematodes.
Humic acid can reduce the quantity of fertiliser needed for cucumber farming by up to 30%.
Cucumber plants attract a lot of pests and diseases. There are good fungicides, insecticides, bactericides and nematicides you can use to prevent or attack pests and diseases.
If you are an organic farmer, you can use bio-pesticides. Bio-pesticides are better used for prevention not curative. Neem oil, black soap, fermented urine and hot pepper can also be used by organic farmers engaged in cucumber farming.
For chemical pesticides to be highly efficient, you can amend the pH. A simple altering of the pH of Glyphosate can increase its efficiency by up to 30%.
Though, most cucumber farmers in Nigeria do not stake their vines. If you want to be very efficient in cucumber farming, it is advisable you stake the vines. Staking improves aeration in your cucumber field, reduces diseases and increases yield significantly.
Cucumber farmers in the north that do no stake harvest cucumbers from the vines 2-3 times while those who stake may harvest up to 10 times.
Marketing of Produce
It is always better you sell your cucumber produce to organized markets like shoprite, hotels and vegetable shops etc. This set of customers buy per kg. A kilogram of cucumbers in Lagos goes for N240 –N400.
For those willing to sell the unorganized market, Mile 12 market Lagos, Aba market, Abeokuta market, Farin Gada, Jos or any open market around you. The main disadvantage of selling in unorganized markets is that the prices are unpredictable.
There are peak and off peak times every year. If you are engaged in cucumber production, you should mind these times and plan accordingly. Prices of fresh cucumbers can vary by up to 500% in a year.
Diseases of Cucumber Plants
There are a lot of pests and diseases that affect cucumber plants. The deadliest and commonest in Nigeria is the Downy Mildew. Downey mildew is an oomycete infection that affects the leaves of the cucumber plants. It discolourises the leaves and significantly reduce the yield of the cucumber plants. Downy mildew can wreck a big cucumber farms within days if not checked.
It is better to prevent downy mildew using fungicides having copper and mancozeb. You can also prevent this disease using some microbial based fungicides if you are an organic farmer. Neem oil, black soap and fermented urine can also be effective for prevention.
Do not work around the farm in the morning or when the leaves are still very wet.
Reckless usage of nitrogen fertiliser may aggravate downy mildew infection.
Other diseases and pests of cucumber plants are:
- Mosaic virus
- Powdery mildew
- Bacterial wilt etc.
Questions and Answers
Question: Where can i get cucumber seeds in Nigeria?
Answer: You can get from Veggie Grow Limited
Question: Where can i get drip irrigation kit in Nigeria?
Answer: You can get drip irrigation kit here
Question: Can i make profit from cucumber farming in Nigeria?
Answer: Yes, you can make good profit from cucumber farming in Nigeria; there are people who make millions of naira every season.
Question: When is the peak time of cucumbers in Nigeria?
Answer: The prices of cucumbers peak around April to July every year. A 40kg bag of cucumbers can go for N5,000 – N7,000 this period while in other times, the price of same bagcan go for N2,000.
Question: What is the typical yield of tomatoes?
Answer: Your cucumber yield depends on factors like soil fertility, agronomic practice, weather, disease infestation and irrigation etc. Under normal conditions, you can expect to get 10-30 tonnes per acre of hybrid cucumbers. You may also get zero yield if you do not follow the necessary agronomic practices.
Question: Are fertilisers in Nigeria sub-standard?
Answer: Though the media hardly report this, a huge percentage of fertilisers sold in Nigeria are fake, some are also re-bagged. Please buy your fertiliser from accredited dealers.
Cucumber farming can make you a millionaire. Why not try it today.
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