Cucumber Roller Coaster
In this post we'll concentrate on cucumbers - in part because we have so much interesting data on them. We've actually used our cucumber crop as subject material on this blog in the past. For example, in 2010, I went through one process we use to determine the worth of the crops we grow. And, we also talked about cucumbers from the perspective of how we plan for success AND failure of any given crop. After re-reading these posts, I still find that they hold up pretty well. Some of our processes have changed, but not enough to invalidate what was said there.
|Green Finger cucumbers|
First, the basic numbers for each year since 2006.
Raw numbers are dangerous for many reasons. First, higher and lower numbers can have many reasons.
For example, 2006 was fairly early in our farm's development and the number of cucumber plants we started was much lower than what we grew in 2007. At that time, we decided the production level was a little high for what we needed at the time, so we reduced the number of row feet slightly for cucumbers in 2008.
|and...this is what happened in 2008|
At this time we were still direct seeding cucumbers. And, for some reason in 2008, germination was terrible and growth was very poor once things germinated. Many other growers in our region reported similar troubles after the fact. And, these problems continued in 2009. But, we made more efforts to reseed - so our production numbers were higher, but not all that good either.
So, what do you do after you have particular problems with a crop? You make major adjustments. We made several in 2010. And, the cucumbers just happened to be landing in our best field for production. We increased the row feet planted and planned some overhead irrigation if things got dry. Needless to say, the cucumbers responded in record amounts. As it was, we were back to the problem of too much of a good thing. The turkeys that year learned to love cucumbers.
Our final year to direct seed cucumbers was 2011. That was a particularly bad year for cucumber beetles - our timing for planting hit their peak population dead on. Add to that the issue of being in a weedy field and there you have it. Oh, and we reduced the number of row feet because we were gun shy of the exuberance shown by these plants the previous year.
|and that brings us to 2012-2014|
|Succession I in 2014|
Over the past three years, we feel we are safe in saying the following expectations are not unreasonable for these varieties:
Boothby's Blonde: 8.1 to 9.3 fruit per row foot - Succ I
7.6-7.9 fruit per row foot - Succ II
A&C Pickling: 3.0 per row foot - Succ I
3.5 per row foot - Succ II (likes a warmer soil to start)
Green Finger: 6.9 per row foot
Marketmore 76: 5.0 - 9.2 per row foot
Parade: 4.1 to 5.7 per row foot
True Lemon: boom or bust. less than 1 per row foot to more than 10 per row foot.
These are all open pollinated varieties. 2013 was the last season we planted a hybrid cucumber and these were the poorest producers in both 2012 and 2013.