Cucumber Botrytis: saving vegetables with a trellis netting system
Cucurbits have a particular importance for most agricultural economies in warmer climates around the world and cucumber botrytis can cause large scale damages to the individual grower and to the agricultural sector overall if left untreated, as cucurbits are an important portion of today´s horticultural income, this is why the use of trellis net is important. Tomato, melon, watermelon are the most important. Let take a known exporter of produce to the USA: FAO 2008 reports Mexico to be as a major cucumber exporter ( 669,000 ton) with an income above 400 000 000 MXN being main producer states Sinaloa and Sonora, with planted surfaces of 1185.5, 633.5 and 244.8. ha on greenhouses with yieldings of 103,6 and 194.5, 124.9 ton/ha ( SIAP,2012)
Using HORTOMALLAS® trellising and tutoring net, increases aeration and solar exposure, avoiding soil contact and increasing harvest quantity and value.
Cucumber growing is very important for Mexican market.
This territory has ideal conditions to produce cucumbers:
Soil: cucumber can grow on any soil but grows better on sandy-clayed or well drained franc. If soil is not ideal we must have conditions to avoid water excess that is a major problem for any crop. Cucumber plant does not tolerate salinity so the PH must be between 5.5 and 6.8.
Temperature: ideal temperature for cucumber growing is between 20 and 30 Celsius
Height (above sea level range): from 400 to 1200 meters above sea level
Rainfall: doesn’t tolerate water excess so its grown on areas with a rainfall between 500 and 1200 mm a year.
Relative humidity: this is a plant with high humidity requirements, being the optimal relative humidity during the day in a range of 60 to 70 % and at night 70 to 90 %, however humidity excesses during the day may reduce production by decreasing transpiration and affect photosynthesis. With environmental humidity higher than 90 % the atmosphere is saturated with steam which may lead to fungal diseases or cucumber botrytis, besides a plant that “wakes up” wet and with condensation on its leaves in the morning starts working later as it will concentrate the first available morning energy to evaporate the water from its surface
Luminosity: this crop grows, flowers and yields fruits normally even on short days ( less than 12 hours) even though with more sun radiation it produces more.
Wind: this is a crucial factor for healthy cucumber growing. Several hour of wind with speeds up to 30km accelerates the water loss for the plant, lowering the air´s relative humidity increasing water needs for the plant. This reduces fecundation. Wind decreases plant development and production of cucumbers due to mechanical stress on the vegetative tissues, it also ages the plant quickly and damages leaves, flowers and fruits. This why is cucumbers are grown in sheltered fields or using wind breakers.
Tutoring : There are records that some ancient civilization, such as the Romans, knew of good techniques for vegetable production like plant tutoring, this was done using net support structures. This activity is very recommendable for current times must be done before sowing so the plants are not damaged afterwards and not waste time supervising this activities while or after sowing. It’s done 40 cm above the soil since this is the normal height for the plant to grow without tutoring .
Tutoring cucumbers is a widespread and essential agricultural practice to keep the plant vertical, for better aeration and absorbing sunlight more efficiently. All this impacts positively on the crop, fruit production, pest control and diseases reduction, especially against humidity related diseases like cucumber botrytis.
Cucumber on vegetable support net inside a protected growing environment, instead of tutored with raffia twine, is the most recommended. It provides better leaves disposition to seize solar exposure and better ventilation ( increasing plagues and diseases), facilitating harvesting and allowing using higher population density for higher yielding of better quality fruits (Casilimas et al, 2012) even though different kinds of trellises has been used on this crop ( Casaca,2005) on protected environments subjection is often made with polypropylene thread (raffia) ( Gomez-Guillamon et al 1997; FAO 2002;Grijalva et al 2011) plastic tutoring net may be used to facilitate vertical tutoring for tomato, cucumber, chili pepper, melon, watermelon and zucchini, being easy and fast to install, besides is reusable. When tutoring with nets, this go vertically beneath the rows , supported on the top of wires, and on the inferior goes another wire for tying the tutoring net.(Gomez-guilllamon et al . 1997 FAO , 2002, Aguado et al , 2008).
Cucumber crop with HORTOMALLAS trellis net as guide and support; on this picture we may see pole supports that are used also with raffia having variable distance between poles.
Currently is also widely used trimming practices on intensive agricultural crops for better growing and plant development. In greenhouses trimming is used to leave only one or several stems , eliminating certain sprouts and leaves that due to excessive growth yield no fruit, producing less quality fruits ( Reche, 1995) rational and balanced trimming allows to get better quality fruits , with better aeration and luminosity facilitating treatments.
Yielding on protected environments compared to non protected are different. ( Higón 2002) reports that cucumber usually yields 20/30 ton/ha on open field , while on greenhouses reaches 150, 300 ton/ha. In Mexico according to SIAP (2013) reports average yielding on open field reaches 30.5 ton/ ha and on greenhouses reaches 98 ton/ha, increasing 221 %. For rocky soils on Yucatán technified production using trellis net and irrigation fluctuate between 90 and 130 ton /ha ( SAGARPA , 2009)
Whether you are planning a simple house orchard or an industrial one, providing a trellis net is always a good idea to grow vigorous cucumber plants . Using trellis tutoring keep the fruits from the soil having good circulation and maduration. This and other techniques wide known have being used thanks to the knowledge provided for the good agricultural practices or GAP. Such as trellis usage. Using a trellis net is an easy and cheap way to maximize a growing surface, for cucumber , chayote, zuchinni, tomato, chili peppers as our friends from HORTOMALLAS have being using it.
Botrytis “ gray rot”
something very common on spring is rotting, which helps botrytis cinerea microorganism that usually hibernates in the soil. This parasite acts on wounds or non fecundated flowers producing brownish injuries on stems, leaves and flowers. It also affects fruits on which provokes white stains. Infected petals drop and help disseminating the fungus due to the wind.
Botrytis cinerea is a phytopathogenic fungus, which means it eats dead vegetable matter and attacks around 200 crops at world level, mainly on warm and subtropical areas. This pathogen is responsible for introducing a wide variety of symptoms. Typical symptoms are on leaves and fruits as a soft rot, collapsing stems and tissues that comes with a fast development of gray mass that contains spores. ( fig 7)
Main diseases this crop is attacked by fungus diseases and bacterial which they appear when environmental conditions are met for its development, generally on stage changes ( from vegetative to flowering) on cultivation.
The most common are:
- Mildew lanoso
- mildew polvoso
- fusarium oxysporum and fusarium solani
- pythium spp
- phytophthora spp
- Rhizoctonia solani
- cercospora citrullina ( cercospora)
- colletotrichum orbiculare( antracnosis)
On Cucumber, zucchini and strawberries, Botrytis cinerea infection starts on a dead flowers (or about to die) and moves forward as a soft rot spreading affecting the fruits ( Williamson et al 2007). This pathogenic fungus is hard to control because it has a great variety of infection methods , and it may survive in several ways on residual crops and be a dormant pathogen. For this reasons the use of a simple control measure is not enough and it requires detailed knowledge on the interaction between hosting organism and the pathogen, the micro environment on which the fungus is developed and the housing microbial competitors. ( Williamson et al. 2007)
Simple agronomic techniques like using trellis netting will have a significant impact and difference on the incidence of diseases like cucumber botrytis (among others related to the excess of humidity) or due to incorrect handling and mechanical spread of diseases. Plant training net will yield better harvests so if we add to the value given by tutoring with trellis net, the fact that using HORTOMALLAS® reduces workforce as much as 70%, while increasing fruit quality and quantity up to 30 %, this higher production being due to better pollination because of the an easier flower access to the pollinators when the plant goes vertical. Besides the savings listed above there are no losses due to workers stepping, and the plant will grow faster and in better solar exposition and an improved aeration, which will yield among other things an increase in brix degrees for the fruits.
The indiscriminate and often abuse of agrochemicals fungicides for preventing cucumber botrytis and other fungal diseases, is not really to be considered part of good agricultural practices as we should try to avoid or reduce environmental damages, encourage good organic produce and eliminate harmful products for consumers´ consumption, free of biological pollutants: physical, chemical and genetic.
A clear value formulation of standards for good agricultural practices may offer a base for national and international farmers to elaborate sustainable agricultural production systems, especially when it comes to combating fungal infections like cucumber botrytis. The general concern for the biological, ecological, economic and social sustainability of our ecosystems must be taken into account.
Huge profits have been gained so far towards the efficiency and technology, innovation and mechanization, but the real costs are being sent to the environment. At the same time struggle for food safety with inadequate technology in developing countries is decreasing natural resources without satisfying demand. Worldwide a there is a true concern that agricultural products might be harmful for consumers´ health. It is necessary to implement a quick transition towards sustainable production systems and review our collective resources. HORTOMALLAS® trellis systems will integrate both biological and technological knowledge, reducing production costs, increasing productivity and ecological stability, and allowing for the consumers to regain the trust in the produce they eat.
Synthesis on cucumber botrytis conducted by Biol. David Zuñiga, UdG
Gutiérrez, V. M. O., Lagunas, Á. A. M., Román, E. C., Serna, J. M., & López, M. R. (2014). EL SISTEMA DE TUTORADO Y PODA SOBRE EL RENDIMIENTO DE PEPINO EN AMBIENTE PROTEGIDO. Interciencia,39(10), 712-717
Núñez-Rios, Tania; Leyva-Mir, Santos Gerardo; Rodríguez-Pérez, Juan Enrique; Mariscal-Amaro, Luis Antonio. (2013). ETIOLOGÍA Y CONTROL DE LA NECROSIS DE FLORES Y PUDRICIÓN DE FRUTOS DE PEPINO EN MORELOS, MÉXICO. REVISTA CHAPINGO SERIE HORTICULTURA, Mayo-Agosto, 255-266.
2http://www.gardendesk.com/2011/05/building-a-trellis-for-the-cucumbers.html on cucumber botrytis and other fungal diseases
Salvador Arias. 2007. Manual de producción: Producción de pepino. USAID-RED (PROGRAMA DE DIVERSIFICACIÓN RURAL). No. P. 31
http://www.fitodiagnostico.com/Elemento/04033271906a42c8845a07e297c38b75 Red de Alerta e Información Fitosanitaria. Consejería de Agricultura y Pesca. Dirección General de la Producción Agrícola y Ganadera. Junta de Andalucía.