Cucumber Growers Association conference focuses on research to tackle cucumber disease Mycosphaerella melonis

The Cucumber Growers Association (CGA) technical conference earlier this month focused on disease pressures in the crop.

Among these, the fungus Mycosphaerella melonis (syn. Didymella bryoniae) is the subject of extensive ongoing Horticultural Development Company research.

This involves Stockbridge Technology Centre’s Dr Martin McPherson looking at the effectiveness of chemical and biological controls, Dr Tim O’Neill of ADAS investigating the use of disinfectants and Professor Roy Kennedy of the University of Worcester studying spore trapping and monitoring.

Explaining best practice on containing the disease, CGA technical director Derek Hargreaves said: "It builds up during the season and by summer it’s a huge problem. Modern varieties have strong roots and will suck up masses of water whether they need it or not. The problem is worst when you have a bright day followed by a dull one. Then, you need to put plenty of heat on early in the second day, ventilate, and irrigate as little and as late as possible."

But he added: "Though you may know the likely -temperature and rainfall for the next day, you don’t know the radiation — will it be thick cloud or thin? So there is a fair bit of skill involved. Too little irrigation and you risk getting hollow fruit; too much and you get ‘snotty-ended’ cucumbers where Mycosphaerella can enter."

While the efficacy of rival growing media was also hotly debated at the event, Har-greaves said: "You can grow cucumbers in just about anything so long as it holds onto water, oxygen and nutrients. Peat, coir, rockwool, perlite, gels or bark each do that slightly differently and your choice will depend on how you grow."

Yield decline

In common with nearly every crop, cucumbers have suffered a decline in yield this year, which Cucumber Growers Association technical director Derek Hargreaves put at around six per cent on last year — "a year that was nothing to write home about either", he added. "Meanwhile, everything has gone up but our returns. It’s a huge issue."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

What should be done to ensure sustainable growth in English wine?

What should be done to ensure sustainable growth in English wine?

How can British apples achieve 60% market share target?

How can British apples achieve 60% market share target?

Horticulture careers - plugging the skills gap

Horticulture careers - plugging the skills gap

Bespoke apprenticeships and internal training are helping firms to get ahead in skills-shortage horticulture, says Rachel Anderson.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +


The Horticulture Week Business Awards is now open for entries

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive RANKING of UK Fruit Producers by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon