When To Pick A Cucumber & How To Prevent Yellow Cucumbers
By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden
Cucumbers are tender, warm-season vegetables that thrive when given proper care. Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require frequent watering throughout the growing season. They are also fast growers, so frequent cucumber harvesting is important in order to prevent getting a yellow cucumber. Let’s look at how to know when a cucumber is ripe and, on a related note, why are my cucumbers turning yellow?
How to Know When a Cucumber is Ripe
Cucumber harvesting isn’t an exact science. However, cucumbers are generally ripe and ready for harvest anywhere from 50 to 70 days after planting. A cucumber is normally considered ripe when it is bright medium to dark green and firm.
You should avoid cucumber harvesting when cucumbers are yellow, puffy, have sunken areas, or wrinkled tips. These are well beyond being ripe and should be discarded promptly.
When to Pick a Cucumber
Many cucumbers are eaten when immature. You can pick cucumbers at anytime before they become too seedy or seeds become hard. Thin cucumbers will generally have less seeds than those that are thicker, therefore, you may want to choose smaller ones rather than allowing them to remain on the vine. In fact, most cucumbers are routinely picked by size, between 2 and 8 inches (5-20 cm.) long.
The best size for when to pick a cucumber usually depends on their use and variety. For instance, cucumbers that are cultivated for pickles are much smaller than those used for slicing. Since cucumbers grow quickly, they should be picked at least every other day.
Why are My Cucumbers Turning Yellow?
Many people wonder why are my cucumbers turning yellow? You shouldn’t allow cucumbers to turn yellow. If you encounter a yellow cucumber, it’s usually over ripe. When cucumbers become over ripe, their green coloring produced from chlorophyll begins to fade, resulting in a yellowing pigment. Cucumbers become bitter with size and yellow cucumbers are generally not fit for consumption.
A yellow cucumber can also be the result of a virus, too much water, or a nutrient imbalance. In some instances, yellow cucumbers are derived from planting a yellow-fleshed cultivar, such as the lemon cucumber, which is a small, lemon-shaped, pale yellow variety.
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How to Find a Ripe Cucumber
Dark sunglasses and an iPhone won't do it. To qualify as "cool as a cucumber," your internal body temperature must be 20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the air temperature around you. Garden cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are a vegetable crop that keeps giving. Once the plants start producing cucumbers in midsummer, the more you pick, the more they produce. You can plant bush cucumbers if you have more ground space, and vines if you have less. Cucumbers should be harvested before they are ripe for best eating. Knowing when to harvest your cucumbers is a matter of following a few simple guidelines.
Count the days from planting. Cucumber varieties are ready for eating between 55 and 65 days from the time you plant them. For more precision, look on the seed packet or label that came with your cucumber starts for the days to harvest of your cultivar.
Calculate the days from pollination. Watch for male flowers to appear first, followed by the fruit-producing female flowers a week later. Insects pollinate the flowers within the next few days. Cucumbers are ready to eat 15 to 18 days after pollination.
Measure the cucumber and compare the size to the mature size of your cultivar, listed on your seed packet or seedling label. Pick slicing cucumbers at 6 to 10 inches long, pickling cucumbers at 1 to 6 inches long and hothouse-grown cucumbers at 12 to 15 inches long. Pick younger rather than older fruit to avoid the bitter taste.
Squeeze a cucumber and inspect its color. Harvest cucumbers when they are firm and elongated. Ready-to-eat cucumbers have dark green skin without yellow streaks. Yellow streaks indicate that the veggie is a senior citizen best retired to the compost heap.
So, you've got a prickly variety of cucumber? There are various types of cucumber, and some are a bit prickly. Thus, it's a regular thing. Even though they are prickly, a perfect taste is guaranteed. Such a beautiful fruit creation!
Cucumbers are widely part of the Cucurbit family, together with melons, squash, and pumpkins. They are categorized into two: slicing and prickling varieties. Some of the prickly cucumbers have small little hairs, while others are all out spines.
It is believed that some cucumbers are prickly due to a reason similar to that of camouflaged animals or those with horns: to shield themselves from predators.