Cucumber cultivation in North America in full swing

For over 30 years cucumbers have been grown in Canada on a large scale, but for a long time the export to the United States was limited. Now this is changing, partially due to the introduction of the mini cucumber. In contrast to Europe, this is a very ordinary type in North America.

"In the United States traditionally more 'slicers' are eaten," says Crop Advisor John DeVries of Rijk Zwaan. "An open ground cucumber with a thicker and darker peel and often with seeds inside. The Canadian cucumbers therefore remain in their own country." This started to slowly change around ten years ago. "Now almost 35 percent of the production is exported to the US. It's also no longer about the traditional long cucumber; smaller types are on the rise."

Mini cucumber are widely available in North America

Fresh for a long time

Up until now the most successful new type is the mini cucumber with a length of 11 centimeters and a weight of 85 grams. 
Mini cucumbers are seen as a niche product in North America. "Store chains have now successfully introduced the product to a larger audience," says DeVries. "More and more consumers know the products, not just immigrants who know it from their country of origin." The mini cucumbers are sold in tray packs; a Styrofoam type tray with one layer of usually six cucumbers. The trays are sealed with plastic. "This doesn't just make the product look fresh on the shelf, it also keeps them fresh for longer."

Ideal snack

The handy size makes it the ideal product to snack for on the road as well as at home. "If you take one or two cucumbers out of the package, it's easy to keep the rest fresh. The product is mainly ideal for school children. The mini cucumber is a healthy snack for with a sandwich, and because of it's size, it's easy to fit in a lunchbox."

DeVries knows many people also find it tastier than a regular cucumber. "There is relatively less water in this type, this means it has a slightly different, crunchier structure." Even crunchier than the mini cucumber is the snack cucumber: a product which is also starting to take hold in the US. "They look much the same, but are half the size and therefore even more perfect to snack on," says DeVries. "They are also easy to produce. In Canada and the United States, cocktail cucumbers are already grown on a larger scale with success."

Cultivation developments

After cucumbers being grown exclusively in Canada for years, larger productions are now also springing up in the United States. These companies are mainly in the south of the country, where it is possible to reach good, high quality productions even in the winter. At the moment around 36 hectares of cucumbers are being grown in the US, besides the 265 hectares in Canada. In both countries the cultivation systems are developing. More and more growers are switching to a high wire cultivation, which means they can grow a higher percentage of class I.

Source: Seeds & Services, Rijk Zwaan

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