U.S. Fresh and Pickling Cucumber Markets

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December 31, 2013 - Author: Steven R Miller

As part of an effort to estimate the potential impact of downy mildew to U.S. growers of cucumbers, this report reviews historical trends in production and markets for cucumbers including slicing and pickling cucumbers.

First, cucumber can be grown in all regions of the US and many regions outside the US. Climate variation in the US allows for US cucumber production to take place nearly year‐round. However, cucumber production is limited by several factors. Cucumbers can be grown in a variety of soils as long as the soils are well drained, high in moisture content, and provides sufficient access to plant nutrients.

In the US, the most common cucumber cultivars share common parentage. This uniformity represents a significant challenge to pest management for new and adapting virulence. To avoid the buildup of soil pathogens, careful crop rotations should be considered. It is generally preferable to avoid planting cucumbers on soils planted to cucurbits (muskmelon, cucumber, watermelon, squash, pumpkin or gourd) within the prior two to three years. Corn, small grains and sod make excellent rotation crops in the absence of triazine herbicide.

Cucumbers are warm‐season crop and are sensitive to cold and excessive heat. Hence, planting takes place during periods where soil has sufficiently warmed, there exist no danger of frost over and there is minimal threat of excessive heat. Many growers choose to install irrigation systems for fresh market cucumbers, though processing cucumbers are generally rain‐fed. Climate influences variety choices for planting. Varieties planted should be consistent with climate, soil conditions as well as marketing consideration. For many regions, pickling cucumbers fit within a double cropping system, because of their quick rate of maturation. Yields are generally lower for processing cucumbers than for freshmarket cucumbers, which generally command a relatively higher price. Processing cucumbers are usually grown on bare ground and planted under contract with processors. Fresh market cucumber growers generally employ plastic mulch to expedite soil warming and reduce weed pressures.

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Tags: cea reports, center for economic analysis

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