Cucumber Farming in Nigeria – How to Plant Cucumber

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Cucumber farming is the growing of cucumbers from the initial stage of and preparation to the last stage of harvesting and marketing the cucumber produce. Cucumber farming in Nigeria is popular, as a matter of fact; most young people going into farming in Nigeria start growing cucumbers.

Cucumber is botanically known as Cucumis Sativus. It is a creeping plant that grows and yields well when staked. Cucumber does well in tropical areas. It prefers a soil with pH of 6 – 7.

A lot of the cucumber farmers in Nigeria are now situated in the southern part of the country due to the interest of young people. Hitherto, most of the cucumber farmers in Nigeria are in the northern part of Nigeria.

cucumber farming

Steps to take to start cucumber farming in Nigeria

The following are the steps to take to start cucumber farming in Nigeria:

Site Selection and Soil Preparation

Successful cucumber farming starts with choosing the right site and preparing the soil adequately. Cucumbers thrive in well-drained, loamy soils with good organic matter content. Here are some steps to follow:

Site Selection: Choose a site with adequate sunlight exposure (at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily). Avoid low-lying areas prone to waterlogging, as excessive moisture can lead to disease issues.

Soil Testing: Conduct a soil test to determine nutrient deficiencies and pH levels. Cucumbers prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.0-7.0).

Soil Preparation: Prepare the soil by clearing any debris, weeds, or rocks. Incorporate well-rotted organic matter (such as compost or farmyard manure) to improve soil fertility and structure.

Selection of Cucumber Variety or Cultivar

The choice of cucumber variety or seed is a crucial decision for any aspiring cucumber farmer. There are several cucumber varieties or seeds in Nigeria. Some popular cucumber varieties grown in Nigeria include:

Darina F1: This variety is a hybrid variety. It is one of the highest yielding cucumber cultivars in Nigeria. This variety is commonly grown in the southern part of Nigeria.

Greengo F1: This is a hybrid ccucumber variety from East West Seeds. It is high yielding and hardy. It can be grown in all the regions of Nigeria.

Murano F1: This variety is a popular hybrid cucumber variety from Technisem. It is also high yielding.

Poinsett 76: Known for its uniform fruit size and shape, Poinsett 76 is a widely grown cucumber variety in Nigeria. It is ideal for pickling and fresh market sales.

Marketmore: Marketmore cucumbers are popular for their high yield potential and resistance to various pests and diseases. They are excellent for fresh consumption and have a great shelf life.

Planting and Spacing

Cucumber seeds can be sown directly in the field or transplanted as seedlings, depending on the farmer’s preference and local conditions. When planting cucumbers:

Seed Sowing: If planting directly, sow cucumber seeds 1-2 inches deep and space them 12-24 inches apart in rows. Ensure that the soil is consistently moist for good germination.

Transplanting: When using seedlings, transplant them when they have at least two true leaves. Space seedlings 12-18 inches apart in rows with 2-3 feet between rows.

Trellising: To maximize space and airflow, consider using trellises or stakes for vertical growth. This also helps prevent fruit rot and disease.

Water Management

Cucumbers have high water requirements and should be consistently irrigated throughout their growth cycle. Drip irrigation systems are recommended for efficient water use. It is essential to water at the base of the plant and avoid wetting the foliage to reduce the risk of disease.

Fertilization

Fertilization is a critical aspect of cucumber farming in Nigeria. A balanced fertilizer application, based on soil test recommendations, is essential for optimal growth and yield. Commonly used fertilizers include NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) blends and micronutrient-rich fertilizers. A typical fertilizer schedule includes:

Pre-Planting: Apply a basal fertilizer with a high phosphorus content (e.g., 15-15-15) before planting, incorporating it into the soil during land preparation.

Side Dressing: Apply nitrogen-based fertilizer (e.g., urea) as a side dressing when the plants begin to vine and produce runners. This promotes healthy foliage and fruit development.

Fertigation: Soluble fertilizers can be passed to the root zones of cucumber plants through the drip irrigation system. This is the most effective of way of passing fertilizers to plants.

Pest and Disease Management

Cucumber farming in Nigeria faces various pest and disease challenges, including aphids, spider mites, cucumber beetles, downy mildew, and powdery mildew. To mitigate these risks:

Crop Rotation: Rotate cucumber crops with other vegetables to reduce the buildup of soil-borne diseases.

Pest Monitoring: Regularly inspect plants for signs of pest infestations. Early detection allows for prompt intervention.

Natural Predators: Encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs and parasitoid wasps to control aphids and other pests.

Chemical Control: If necessary, use pesticides according to recommended dosages and schedules. Always follow safety precautions and adhere to withdrawal periods.

Downy Mildew is the commonest and most challenging disease affecting cucumber plants in Nigeria.

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling

Cucumbers are typically ready for harvest 45-60 days after planting, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. Harvesting should be done when the fruits are young and tender to ensure the best quality. Here are some tips for harvesting and post-harvest handling:

Harvesting: Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut cucumbers from the vine, leaving a small portion of the stem attached. Avoid pulling or twisting the fruits to prevent damage.

Sorting and Grading: Sort cucumbers based on size and quality. Grade them for market, separating premium-quality cucumbers from those with minor defects.

Packaging: Pack cucumbers in ventilated crates or bags to prevent moisture buildup and decay during transportation. Proper packaging helps maintain freshness.

Storage: Store cucumbers in a cool, humid environment (10-12°C and 90-95% relative humidity) to extend their shelf life.

Freshly harvested cucumbers are usually packed in bags weighing 35 – 45kg. The biggest fresh cucumbers market in Nigeria is the Mile 12 market, Lagos.

Marketing and Sales

The cucumber market in Nigeria offers various opportunities for farmers, from local markets to supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants. Establishing strong marketing channels and partnerships is key to successful cucumber farming. Consider the following strategies:

Local Markets: Sell cucumbers at local markets and directly to consumers. Establish a presence at high-traffic marketplaces to attract more buyers.

Wholesalers: Partner with vegetable wholesalers or distributors who can help you reach a broader customer base.

Supermarkets and Retailers: Approach supermarkets and retail chains that focus on fresh produce. Meeting their quality and quantity requirements can lead to consistent sales.

Export Opportunities: Explore export possibilities, especially for high-quality cucumber varieties. Comply with international quality and phytosanitary standards.

Challenges and Future Prospects

While cucumber farming in Nigeria holds significant promise, it also faces challenges that require attention and innovative solutions. Some of these challenges include:

Pest and Disease Pressure: Continued research into integrated pest management (IPM) practices and disease-resistant cultivars is essential to reduce losses.

Infrastructure and Post-Harvest Losses: Addressing infrastructure gaps and improving post-harvest handling facilities can minimize losses and enhance market access.

Climate Change: Adaptation strategies, such as crop diversification and water management, are necessary to mitigate the impact of climate change on cucumber production.

Market Access: Enhancing access to both local and international markets through improved logistics and market information systems will benefit cucumber farmers.

Cost of Cucumber Farming in Nigeria

The cost to start a one acre cucumber farm is shown as follows:

  • Rent of one acre farmland: ₦20,000 – ₦50,000
  • Clearing, Ploughing and Harrowing: ₦45,000
  • Drip Irrigation – ₦280,000
  • Seeds: ₦60,000
  • Planting: ₦11,000
  • Fertilizers and Manure: ₦50,000 – ₦200,000 (Depending on soil fertility)
  • Pesticides: ₦22,000
  • Others: ₦90,000
  • Profit – ₦400,000 – ₦1,500,000 (Depending on your yield)

Hear from Femi, a Cucumber Farmer in Nigeria

Femi started cucumber farming in Nigeria some 10 years ago. He spoke with moneyamebo. Femi told us that he used drip irrigation and observed good agronomic practices on his 1 acre cucumber farm last year and he harvested 550 bags of cucumbers (each bag weighed 40kg) which he sold in Mile 12 market, Lagos for ₦5,000 – ₦7,000 per bag.

Femi encouraged young people to go into cucumber farming as it is a lucrative farming business. Femi is planning to expand his cucumber farm and also add other vegetable crops like pepper and tomato

Conclusion

Cucumber farming in Nigeria is arguable one of the most profitable ventures anyone can go into. It has also added to Nigeria’s plan to increase food production and employment opportunities for its teeming population.

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