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STEP BY STEP GUIDE ON HOW TO START A PROFITABLE CUCUMBER FARM

EVEN IF IT'S YOUR FIRST TIME, THIS BLOG POST WILL TEACH YOU EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO START A PROFITABLE CUCUMBER FARM

Photo credit: Agrostory cucumber farm

You can agree with me that there’s a vast pool of opportunities in the Agriculture Industry begging to be explored. One amongst these abundant opportunities is Cucumber farming. You may not even know how profitable this area of Agriculture is until you venture into it.
Just for the records, Cucumber, Cucumis sativus is an edible fruit having a green rind and a crisp watery white flesh good for food. I have never liked any other fruit or veggie the way I like cucumbers.

The Internet can feed you with lots of other advantages and merits of this veggie.
So many people have said a lot on the internet about the Nutritional benefits and medicinal qualities of this veggie, Cucumber.

However, here are a few things you may need to know about Cucumbers in terms of nutritional benefits to wit:

  • Cucumbers protect the brain from neurological disorders,
  • Reduces risk of Cancer,
  • Fights inflammation,
  • Contains antioxidant properties like Vitamin C and beta-carotene
  • Freshens your breath and eliminates bad breath
  • Cucumbers contain multiple B vitamins that helps in management of stress
  • Cucumbers support digestive health because of its content of water and fibre
  • Cucumbers are low in calories helping you to maintain a healthy weight
  • They contain potassium which support healthy heart
  • They also Protect skin against aging,
    Relieves pains because of its contents of Flavonoids and tannins.
  • Cucumber is a great source of vitamin K making the bones strong.

I’m glad you stopped by to get practical insights on how you can make thousands in cucumber farming just within few weeks.
A lot of people go into businesses without any knowledge about the niche, and this cripples the business when challenges surface and they’re unable to handle.

Some farmers always ask me, “Goodluck ,what delays our plants from germinating after 4 days of planting?”, “why is my Cucumber bitter?”, “what retards the growth rate, make the fruit small and bland after harvest?”. These are very critical questions begging for answers.
Now I’m going to share ways you can produce what the consumers are looking for, because that’s the only way you can make cool cash.
This business have good income flow and that’s the reason Fruit and vegetable producers keep their cards to their chests. In this post I’ll share practical insights on ways you can break even in this business.
As I have always done in previous lessons, I’m going to be as practical as possible. I’ll untie the knots to make you understand the real productive steps in growing cucumbers and having a bumpy harvest after seven (7)weeks.

These are the steps;

Step #1
Conduct a Feasibility Study and Prepare a Mini-Business Plan:
A lot of people dive into farming /Agribusiness because they heard it has money multiplier effect and as such they don’t bother to carry out feasibility studies to know everything about the business.
Your first response when you see step #1 will definitely be questions. ” Why should I get a Business plan? “, “Is it really necessary to conduct feasibility study ? “. Won’t I succeed if I don’t have a Business Plan?” .

The answers to those questions are already in your lips. Ordinarily, when you don’t plan a trip, you’ll obviously miss your route, spend more than budgeted and loose focus. So for your farm projects, it is needful to carry out Financial analysis (Expenses, running cost and income projections ), marketing strategy and survey, manpower requirements, farm input type, irrigation system Business location and accessibility.
There’s 40% chance you’ll succeed without a Business Plan but then, the reason you should get a Business plan is to keep you on track while running the project, so that you don’t deviate from the norms of the game like spending much out of your profit and to ensure certain standards are at least maintained. So you need just a mini-Business plan to run your farm in a structured and organised manner.

 

Step #2
Seed Selection:
There are so many varieties of Cucumber seeds from different companies and countries.
So you have to examine if they are Open pollinated or closed seeds, Local or foreign seeds or is it a Hybrid or maybe improved variety. Whichever name you give them, it is very crucial to understand the seeds you are planting because while some seeds produce 1 tonne per Acre, others produce lesser.
However, Some of those seeds are genetically modified and presented as F1(hybrid) varieties. So it’s important you buy from trusted and viable seed producing companies like Technisem, Eastwest seeds, Thai Agro or contact seed regulatory body to confirm the seeds you’re buying. (www.seedcouncil.gov.ng).
There are also affiliate Wholesalers like Songhai farms, IITA, Agrostory Nigeria, Seedworld etc where you can get viable seeds, cultivars and seedlings for farming purposes.
Let’s look at the different varieties from different companies . Varieties like CU999, Murano 2 F1, Darina F1, Greengo F1, Monalisa F, Jorad F1 are all very good varieties that give high yield between 36- 45 days.

Step #3
Land Preparation:
In preparation for a successful cucumber farming/business, there are certain things you need to do to get the land ready for use.
Ensure you don’t use forests unless it’s your last option. This will help reduce overhead cost of deforestation.
Well, Follow me as I take you by hand to show you the steps involved which include;

a.) Soil Testing: Soil testing is carried out on any portion of land you’d want to use for Agricultural purpose. It is important to reveal potential nutrient deficiencies, pH imbalance or excess soluble salts. This action helps to optimise crop production, diagnoses plant culture problems and save money by applying only the quantity or amount of fertilizer needed. Determining the fertility level or pH of the soil is very essential and will save you lots of money. The Soil tests come in Basic and comprehensive forms, so you choose which one to do. Do no assume that a particular soil is Nutrient filled.
There was a man who came to me in 2017 to consult me for his Plantain plantation. So I told him we need to prepare a plan for his farm as well as carry out a Basic soil test to determine the Hydrogen ion concentration of the soil (if the soil is basic or Acidic). He refused and said he didn’t have money for all that and that he could go on Youtube and Google to read up information. I tried to make him see reasons why those things are important but he never listened. Six months after he planted 10 acres of plantain suckers, the suckers were not growing. Just stunted. So he called me, complaining about the ugly experience and this time asking me to manage the farm for him. he ended up spending so much money even more than the original proposal which included the soil tests.
So for your Cucumber farm, try and determine at least the pH of the soil and then fortify the soil with essential nutrients for plant growth.

b.)Bush Clearing /Deforestation:
Clear the land and cut the tall trees. Brush the land to make it bare. I’ll not advice you to do entire bush burning so as not to disrupt the activities of Nitrogen fixing Bacteria /microorganisms as they play important roles .But where you have high vegetation, you can do partial bush burning by packing and heaping in bits and burning them up. The ash can serve as manure too so it’s not bad.
Okay, If you are using bulldozers, be mindful not to totally scoop away the topmost nutrients of the soil even though you have plans to replenish the scooped nutrients.


c.) Ploughing
After Brushing the Land, next is Making of ridges. You can decide to make either long or short Ridges. I actually use Long ridges with height of about 1 foot and width of 3ft and about 100ft long. It’ll make mulching much easier. So plough the ground well as cucumbers are best grown on loose soil types. Ensure to get rid of rhizomes too while ploughing. So at this stage your ridges are ready right? Cool.

Step #4
Compost Piling/Manure Application:
While ploughing is ongoing, you can begin to make your compost pile. Use Animal dung, wood ash, and compost. Wet and allow for about a week to decay properly. In my next blog, I’ll teach you how to make compost piles.
So when the compost organic manure is ready, apply on the beds/ridges and mix vigorously with the loose loamy soil. Most times, I apply only on the lines or spots where I’ll bury the seeds.
Note
A. – Be mindful and ensure that farms from where you procure the Animal dungs are free from Viral, Bacterial and Fungal infections as this may affect your crops. If you get the dung please sun-dry it for about 72hours to kill any suspected unwanted Microbes. Where you don’t have sunlight, pour Hot water mixed with Ginger, Neem water and garlic and Air-dry for 5-8 days.
B. Please don’t join conventional farmers who misuse NPK as soil booster while the cucumbers are fruiting. Use foliar fertilisers instead. Here’s the big WHY. Cucumbers are made up of about 85-90% water and they retain the chemicals used in growing them to some extent especially if applied during fruiting stage. So avoid growing veggies toxic to human body after consumption. Apply NPK few weeks to fruiting.


Step #5
Irrigation:
Depending on your location, you’ll need to have a standby plan for irrigation because you may not see Rainfall. It’s either you use Drip irrigation system, Sprinkler Irrigation (Automated methods) or Irrigate manually using watering Cans and hose pipes. This means you should have a source of Water(Borehole, Flowing stream, Well etc.). I’ll advise you to use drip irrigation for cucumber farming.


Okay so after applying manure, wet the entire farm in a soggy manner and allow for 24hours to circulate round the farm before planting. You can also irrigate as you plant. Irrigate your cucumber farm at least 3 times in a week but If there’s a daily /adequate rainfall, you’ll not have need to irrigate until you see the soil getting dry or dehydrated.
Just like you already know, the Northern and Western part of Nigeria are tropical zones with lesser amount of rainfall and so you don’t need to wait for rain to irrigate your multi million cucumber farm.
So get ready for that too.

In my farm, I actually have someone who’s job is to irrigate using the 2 systems on ground (Both Automated and manual systems). Sometimes, I do that myself and all my workers are inclined to that technology.
While irrigating, PLEASE DO NOT do so on a hot afternoon or extreme temperatures. Irrigation is most effective very early in the morning between 4am and at least 10am and evening between 4pm and 8pm. This depends on the intensity of the Sun. If the Weather is mild, you can do a flow through via your drip tapes, watering Cans etc.

Step #6
Planting:
So after wetting your ridges or maybe luckily there was rainfall, you go ahead to plant the cucumber seeds. Ensure to face up the pointed side of the seed as you deep your index/pointer finger with the seed not deeper than the second line on your index finger. However, you may also drop it flat. It’ll still germinate “anywhere belle face”).
Close the finger opening with loose sand and move to the next 1 foot. This spacing allows you to stake your cucumbers and make your farm look neat .
So at this stage, let’s assume you’re done planting.
After 4 – 6 days, the cucumber will germinate. But if you insert the seeds deeper than the specifications I gave you earlier, it will take time to germinate and at the end not all will survive. This is because the plumule has gotten weak before the sprouting time.
Note: If you have the capabilities to mulch, please do so before planting. This will retard the growth of weeds, conserve moisture and make the soil suitable.

Step #7
Staking:
So after 2weeks, the strands of the cucumber will start getting longer with so much vegetative growth, which means you have to stake them.
And so using Bamboo beams, stake the Cucumber plant and use ropes/twines to connect cucumber strands to binding wires tied across the bamboo. Staking is actually important. When you don’t stake, the Cucumber will not produce well. Staking is essential ,as it makes the Fruits/veggies retain their greenish colour unlike when you leave them on the ground, they turn white on that part.

Step #8
Pruning:
This is optional. The only reason I prune is to make room for multiple stems/strands to enable the cucumber produce more than expected. But I must tell you that this is technically done else you damage the Cucumber plants and they’ll wither away. Unless you’re an expert, otherwise try it on Small portion of the farm to test run it. Another reason to prune is to channel all Nutrients to the fruit instead of the leaves.

Step #9

Plant Food:

I had already explained this in step 4. However, there are some who use fertilizers in granular or foliar form. Whichever you can lay your hands on, ensure you apply at the appropriate time. After applying plant food, here’s how the plants will look like.

Step #10
Use of Pesticides /Insecticides:
People must have told you the efficacy of Pesticides and insecticides. Oh yes they get rid of pests before you can say Jack but they have adverse effects on the plant growth and fruit edibility. They are toxic as the plants retains the moisture content of the chemicals as they are sprayed on them.
Again, when you spray chemicals, they kill those useful insects and flies responsible for pollination and I guess you know what will happen when pollination doesn’t take place. Flowering will not take place. Suffice it to say that most cucumber seeds are self pollinated and hence do not need the pollination activity between the Anther and the Stigma. If you’re being disturbed by farm pests, there is an organic concoction I formulated that you can use in getting rid of them. This is first hand information, you may not get it elsewhere.


  • ORGANIC CONCOCTION
    Boil some quantity of Neem leaves and Moringa leaves. Mix handful quantity of  ground ginger, rodo pepper and garlic in the water.
    Pour solution in your knapsack sprayer and spray the farm every 3days.
    It handles beetles, thrips, Aphids, spider, mite, caterpillars, etc.
    This concoction only scares the insect pests and does not totally eradicate them.

So, few weeks after staking , the plant will start flowering(normally yellow in colour )and fruiting sets in. Two weeks after fruiting commenced, the size will continue to increase until it’s ready for harvest.
It’s getting to the peak and interesting too. The farmer always want to hear about the marketing side of the story because that’s the side that brings the money.


Step #11
Harvesting Style and Patterns
This is another important aspect of Cucumber farming many are ignorant of. I harvest 5-6 times in a portion of Land and this could be attributed to:
a. Variety grown
b. Management
c. Harvesting Pattern
The question is, how do I achieve 5-6 times bumpy harvest?
It’s a normal trend for one to harvest once and the Cucumber plants will wither. Okay I’ll share what works for me over the years:

a. If you plug directly from the nodes, you’re telling the plant that the yield you’ve gotten is enough for you. So, leave out ½ inch strand on the cucumber.
b. Another thing is, start harvesting from the bottom as the fruit matures.
c. Don’t harvest any Cucumber that’s not yet matured. Give it time
d. Lastly, while harvesting, give the Cucumber stems/strand way to climb more. Add manure to supply nutrients if you can and irrigate. The more you irrigate , the more the cucumber develops.
To harvest cucumber fruits, use scissors to cut the fruits leaving a short stump attached or carefully plug with your hands.
Your cucumber is Ready for the Market. What next?

MARKETING YOUR CUCUMBERS

Almost everyone wants his or her farm produce to be marketed and on time so as to avoid deterioration of perishable ones.
We have talked about various steps in cucumber farming.
Have you taken a deep breath to think about the market penetration strategy?

As always, I’m going to be as realistic as possible because I suffered a lot marketing my farm produce few years ago while running a cucumber farm and I don’t want you to make such mistakes. Those years were years of ignorance!
Your market include your very family members, friends and every other person. Start telling them what you have, from the very first day you plant.

Sign up with online/social media platforms for sales of Agro produce anywhere in Africa and especially your location.
And so to make your cool cash from growing Cucumber, target your consumers and know when and where they need the produce.
Do not neglect the marketing power of market women and Offtakers (middle men) .
Knowing when people have need of things will help you know the exact season to produce.
Here’s what works :
Lots of farmers grow cucumbers during the rainy season (between April and September) because cucumber actually needs water for growth, right?
But I make more money in the dry Season than rainy season because I practice irrigation system of commercial Agriculture during drought. You got it right?
So you find out that the demand for cucumber is higher in dry season than rainy season and sadly enough, not too many people produce during dry season. This could be because they are ignorant about it or that they don’t have access to automated irrigation systems. So when you plant cucumbers between October and March… You’ll make higher profits.
At this point, any price tag you put in will be accepted by the consumers and off-takers.
That’s also a marketing strategy for you.

  • There are other marketing strategies which include:
    1. Making your produce as fresh as possible .
    2. Leveraging social media as a winning tool for marketing your produce as I mentioned earlier.
    3. Telling everyone about what you have and why they need it.
    4. Reducing your price slightly at infancy. ( Promo sales) etc.
    So when you follow all I’ve mentioned above, you’ll market your produce, even before they are ready for the market.
    Feel free to share your experience and with me!
    Go, start now! So many people are in need of good Cucumbers.

To your Successful farming experience,

Goodluck Edoziem

The Healthy Millionaire Farmer

+2347036534923

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