Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Prune for Growing Cucumbers on Netting

Pruning method depends on the variety of cucumber you're growing.

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Trellising and pruning both offer a number of advantages when it comes to cucumber production. The support of a trellis improves the efficiency and yield of harvesting and allows fruit to grow more uniformly on the plant. It improves sun exposure and fruit quality. Likewise, pruning encourages uniform growth and fruit production as well as straighter cucumbers. These methods require diligence from the gardener, but with some effort you can grow desirable cucumbers for cooking, eating fresh in salads or pickling.

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Whether your netting is composed of string or wire, it will require effort on your part to help train the vine to its support. This can be done by twining the stems and tendrils through the netting as the plant grows, which usually requires about three or four trips during the course of a plant's development to accomplish. Continue training until the vine reaches the top of the netting. Pinch the top stem tip to prevent growth from continuing upward. Ties can be helpful when attempting to train a cucumber vine to net trellis.

Tree System

The growth habit of seedless cucumbers makes a tree system preferable for trellising. In this system, the first four to six lateral runners, as well as leaves that appear in the first 20 inches of the plant, are removed. The higher lateral runners should grow naturally, but the stems of the growing tip should be cut off once they develop two leaves. The main stem of the plant should be attached to the top of the trellis structure with ties so its growth can continue horizontally along the top of the netting..

Umbrella System

When growing a seeded variety of cucumber, an umbrella system of trellising is used. In this system, all lateral branches except the top two are removed. These two main lateral branches are allowed to hang down on either side of the stem. Once they produce fruit and are harvested, cut the stems away and encourage a new set of strong lateral branches to take over as fruiting stems.


General pruning practices are important, regardless of the type of trellising system applied. To ensure a balance of foliage and fruit, remove excess fruit and allow just one cucumber to grow with each leaf axil. In other words, each leaf should be paired with a single fruit to ensure a balance of fruit production. Too many fruits on a plant at once can diminish their quality as the plant may not have sufficient food reserves to support them. Dead or damaged foliage should also be removed to ensure a healthy crop free of disease and insect damage. Excess foliage can also prevent the fruit from gaining sufficient sun exposure.

ReferencesUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks: Cucumber Production in GreenhousesNorth Carolina State University: Trellised CucumbersPhoto Credit ImagesRead Next:

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