Cucumbers grow at a fast rate. Once cucumber seeds sprout and become established, blossoms appear. The tiny vegetables begin to grow between the plant and the blossom, and within a couple of days, they are ready to harvest. The North Carolina State University Horticulture Department breaks down a cucumbers life cycle into five stages.
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Seeds are planted in the ground after the last frost when the ground is warm. When planted seeds come in contact with water, the seed absorbs the water and activates an enzyme causing the seed to shed its coat as the seed bursts open. This process is called germination. Seeds may take three to 10 days to germinate, depending on soil temperatures. Seeds will not germinate when soil temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius. The warmer the soil, the faster germination occurs.
After a seed germinates, the root grows into the soil in search of nutrients and anchors the plant. The seedling emerges from the soil seeking light. Multiple roots are developing beneath the soil in search of nutrients, while the rest of the plant develops above ground. Warm soil temperatures speed this process. Emergence occurs between three to five days after germination.
Vine Tip Over
As the cucumber plant grows and establishes four to six true leaves, it is considered to be in the "vine tip over" stage. At this point the weight of the plants' foliage causes the vine to tip to one side. This stage can occur anywhere from seven to 21 days after emergence. Soil temperatures, weather and soil conditions are factors that determine when cucumber plants reach this stage.
Cucumber plants typically have male and female flowers. The male blooms are the first to appear and create pollen. Fruit forms from female blooms. The amount of cucumbers produced depends largely on pollination and other factors such as weather, temperature and soil. On average the time between tip over stage and the flower stage is five to seven days.
Cucumbers develop between the female bloom and the vine. Once they appear, growth rate is rapid. Cucumbers are harvested at varying intervals dependent upon usage and preference. This is the final stage in cucumber growth. Plants continue to produce cucumbers throughout the growing season when cucumbers are harvested frequently.
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- North Carolina State University - Department of Horticulture Science; Growth Stage, Flowering Pattern, Yield, and Harvest Date Prediction of Four Types of Cucumber Tested at 10 Planting Dates; Todd C. Wehner, et al.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County; Home Grown Facts - Growing Cucumbers; 2006
- Washington State University; Seed Germination; Holly S. Kennell
- North Carolina State University; Department of Horticulture Science; Screening the Cucumber Germplasm Collection for Resistance to Gummy Stem Blight in North Carolina Field Tests; Todd C. Wehner, et al.; October 2000