What varieties of cucumbers to choose?
For those who have been cultivating cucumbers for more than one year, choosing a cultivar for planting next season is not difficult. But for those who are not sophisticated in the issue of gardening, picking cucumbers for their garden is quite problematic, since their choice is incredibly large. But if you set a goal and carefully study the selection proposals in the light of the characteristics of this culture, then you can find exactly what will be your ideal option. Let's look at what you need to know about cucumbers before making a final decision in choosing a variety.
Where are we growing?
The first thing you need to build on when choosing the seeds of cucumbers is the zoning of the variety. Why is this so important? Because most varieties and hybrids are bred by breeders, taking into account the suitability of the culture to the climatic conditions of a given area. This means that zoned cucumber varieties not only show themselves better in the recommended zone, but also require less labor for obtaining high yields.
Information on regionalization can be found on the Internet, at breeding stations, in the scientific literature. If there is no data on the variety of cucumbers of interest, you need to focus on the ripening time. So, for the Middle Strip, mid-season and early varieties and hybrids of cucumbers are best suited. For the Urals and Siberia, it’s not just precocious, but cold-resistant, not demanding for lighting. Southerners can afford late-ripening varieties.
Outdoor or indoor ground?
In addition, when choosing a variety or hybrid of a cucumber, you must immediately know where you will grow it, since what is best suited for the greenhouse may not be very good at garden beds and vice versa.
We decide: a cucumber variety or a hybrid?
Examining the bags with seeds, some gardeners are very embarrassed to see the designation “F1” next to the name, but in vain. This marking indicates that the presented seeds are not a variety, but a hybrid. And, as you know, hybrids have more advanced qualities in relation to varieties.
Why? Because they are withdrawn over several years (and sometimes decades), and are focused on taking only the best from parental lines. Therefore, they have more amicable germination, the ability to form a greater number of female flowers already in the early stages (fruits grow from them), increased resistance to a number of diseases and adverse conditions, and a greater yield.
The only drawback of all hybrid plant forms is the inability to maintain the entire set of positive qualities in their seeds. Therefore, the seeds of hybrids are not collected, but bought again for the new season.
And what about the varieties?
Among domestic varieties of cucumbers, there are quite a lot of good ones that are established in a particular region. However, it is also worth periodically updating them by purchasing seeds, since within 3-5 years the variety degenerates and significantly loses in yield.
Why grow cucumbers?
When choosing cucumber seeds it is very important to immediately determine whether it will be cucumbers for cutting into a salad, for pickling or seaming. Do not be embarrassed, in fact, all the varieties on sale are oriented according to their intended purpose.
Salad type cucumbers are distinguished by a thin skin, have a delicate sweet taste, and are characterized by high productivity and unpretentiousness. They are pleasant in salads, more or less in a slightly salted version, but in salting they become soft. Distinguishing them is quite simple - you just need to look at the color of the tubercles on the skin, and if it is white - it is a salad grade!
But if the tubercles on the cucumbers are rare and black-spiked, the skin is dense - this is an option for pickling! This category mainly includes all Russian varieties and offers of Dutch selection with small fruits. The tubercles of the latter are located more often than in Russian varieties; a flowering type of flowering and clear indicators of varietal maturity, determined by the size of the fruit, are observed. Outgrowing the length stated in the description of the hybrid, such cucumbers lose their taste and harden.
There are varieties of cucumbers for universal use, but they are mostly low-yielding.
We look at the ripening time
The fact that cucumbers are early ripe, mid-ripe and late ripe is no secret. But what is the timeline behind these definitions?
Early ripening varieties and hybrids from seedlings to the beginning of fruiting estimated approximately 32-40 days. Mid-season - 40-50. Late ripening - from 50.
Often the time of the first harvest is indicated on a bag of seeds, in the description of the variety, however, compliance with these data is possible only with proper care of the crop and no stress.
And yet, the more early the variety of cucumbers, the shorter the fruiting period. The later ripe, the more resistant to adverse external influences and diseases.
We focus on the nature of the development of the aerial part
Considering the varieties of cucumbers, it is worth mentioning that they are all divided according to the principle of growth. There are bush cucumbers, short-haired, long-haired and medium-haired. Moreover, the longer their aboveground part develops, the later they enter the fruiting period and bear fruit longer.
In addition, there are varieties of cucumbers with good or active branching, limited or moderate and weak.
Cucumbers with active branching increase lateral shoots from almost every node of the central stem and have a long fruiting period. They are used for both closed and open ground. But in greenhouse conditions they require formation, but on the garden they can be grown without pinching, without garter, freely spread on the ground.
For greenhouses today, on sale you can find many hybrids of cucumbers with the ability to self-regulate branching. It consists in the fact that while fruits are formed on the main stem, the side lashes stop growing, while the main part of the crop is removed from the central stem, all other shoots begin to grow actively.
Varieties of cucumbers with limited branching are somewhat easier to grow. Many lateral shoots can form on them, but they have shortened internodes and are distinguished by a small length. Usually these are hybrids with long fruiting, formed on vertical trellises, recommended for greenhouses, but also used in open ground.
Weakly branching cucumbers form a group of precocious sprinter hybrids. They are high-yielding, together form an ovary, but after a month of fruiting they significantly lose their growth potential. The lateral shoots are small, about 15 cm long, often without leaflets, the internodes are short. Due to this feature, a denser landing pattern can be applied to them - up to 6 pcs. per sq. m. (for other varieties 2.5-3 plants per square meter).
Actively branching varieties of cucumbers are good for the south, weakly and moderately branching are recommended for unheated greenhouses and open ground in the northern regions, all three groups are applicable to the middle band.
Do not ignore the type of flowering
Another feature of the culture that you need to know about when choosing a variety or hybrid is the division into two large groups: parthenocarpic and bee pollinated. What is their difference?
Parthenocarpic varieties of cucumbers they do not need pollination by insects and are therefore particularly suitable for growing in greenhouses, but they are also used in open ground and for temporary film shelters. By the nature of the flowering, they are female or predominantly female. However, the ability of parthenocarpy is a sign that responds to external conditions: temperature changes, lack or stagnation of moisture can significantly reduce the productivity of such plants.
On the market you can find varieties of cucumbers and with a partial manifestation of parthenocarpy, it is necessary to plant pollinator on them, at the rate of 1 to 10, or varieties with a small percentage of male flowers.
Bee pollinated (cross-pollinated) varieties of cucumbers - form an ovary only when polluted by insects (not necessarily bees). They are grown in open ground and under temporary film shelters. They mainly include hybrids of predominantly female or female type of flowering and therefore require replanting varieties or a hybrid of pollinator, at the rate of 1x10. But there are also hybrids of cucumbers with a mixed type of flowering (both female and male flowers on plants) that do not need pollinator overseeding.
Important! When buying several types of varieties at once, do not plant bee pollinating and parthenocarpic plants nearby, since if the latter are pollinated by insects, their fruits will not have the correct shape and will become bitter.
We take note of the relation to light
In addition to all of the above, cucumber varieties differ in relation to the lack of light. Shade-tolerant mainly used for heated greenhouses during the cultivation of products from January to July. Photophilous are used in the summer, they are allocated to the group of spring-summer varieties. But for garden beds there are varieties that tolerate partial shade well.
How many seeds to buy cucumbers?
Based on the foregoing, it is easy to conclude that there are several varieties and hybrids for your site. For example, one super-early, for the first summer salads, one or two medium and one or two late. Or: a few lettuce, and a few for seaming, different ripening dates ... The benchmark should go to increase the harvesting period and the opportunity to get cucumbers in any weather conditions.
And also, it is recommended to acquire new varieties and hybrids every year in order to determine over time: which variety is best for your beds.
You can find tables of characteristics of cucumber varieties by cultivation method, ripening period, type of branching, type of pollination, type of use, yield and others in a separate material: “Tables of characteristics of cucumber varieties”.
Attention! We ask you in the comments to this article to write the varieties of cucumbers that you grow, and which you like for their characteristics. Please do not forget, in addition to the name, to briefly describe them, and indicate in which region and in what way you grow them. You can post your reviews with photos in this thread on the forum. Thank!
In the near future, we will publish a list of cucumber varieties and their characteristics as a separate material.