Plant Profile: Katrina Cucumber
Last month we introduced our new plant profile series with a summertime favorite, Favorita Cherry Tomatoes. This month, we wanted to continue to highlight the benefits of controlled environment growing by featuring another summertime favorite that we are growing even in this cool weather, the Katrina Cucumber. Only 6 inches in length at full maturity, these thin skinned, seedless cucumbers make an excellent addition to salads or provide a quick, tasty snack. Read on to learn all about caring for Katrina Cucumbers and see how we grow them here in our state-of-the-art indoor grow room in this month’s plant profile.
Katrina Cucumber (F1 Hybrid) Cucumis sativus
Days to Bloom: 48
CMV Cucumber Mosaic Virus
CVYV Cucumber Vein Yellowing Virus
PM Powdery Mildew
When producing Katrina Cucumbers, we use two different systems to achieve the greatest production. We first start by propagating the seeds in our Ebb and Flo System. We place the seeds inside Rockwool Starter Plugs and place them in the system for two weeks. Once the seeds have an established root system, we place the Starter Plugs into a Grodan Delta Gro-BlockTM and keep them growing within the Ebb and Flo System for an additional week. After three weeks of propagation, the “cukes” are ready to move to their final growing space, our PolyMax® Dutch Bucket System.
This system features nine PolyMax 11 Liter Dutch Buckets, which are filled with Horticultural Perlite. We place two plants in each Dutch Bucket and water each bucket through drip irrigation, using Netafilm Dripper & Spray Stakes, Polyethylene Micro Tubing and a Woodpecker PC Dripper with 2-Way Stackable Manifold to supply our nutrient mix directly to each plant.
This system runs water to each bucket for five minutes every two hours, which ends up equaling about two gallons of water per bucket, each hour. This system is drain to waste, so waste water is collected in a reservoir tank, and can be used for other purposes. If you’re producing in a drain to waste system, you’ll notice that as these cucumbers mature, you will be collecting less and less waste water. In our first week with these cucumbers, our reservoir tank was nearly half full, but just two weeks later we were collecting not even a quarter tank of waste water, and there are still a few weeks left until full maturity.
Katrina Cucumbers are very quick to mature, so we set our cucumbers to a nine week season, which includes the three weeks of propagation. However, you do not need to call it quits on your crop of Katrina’s in just nine weeks. These cucumbers are capable of growing for extended periods of time, but we have found that due to the rapid rate of maturity, extending the lifecycle for too long can lower the quality of your crop, so the best results come with a short lifespan and crop rotation.
Katrina Cucumbers require 16 hours of light to reach their maximum yield. In our grow room, we use a mix of lighting to encourage growth. To provide light to our Katrina Cucumbers we have seven Metal Halide light fixtures at alternating wattages of 1,000 W and 400 W. This creates a brightly lit environment without overpowering the plant.
Temperature and Humidity
We keep our cucumbers at 80 degrees Fahrenheit with 60 percent humidity.
Cucumbers are a sensitive crop, and should be cared for accordingly. It is because of this that our nutrient mix for the Katrina Cucumbers is low strength, so as not to overpower the root system and put the plant in danger of suffering from nutrient burn. We aim to keep our nutrient concentration at 2 EC and our water measures between 5.8-6.0 pH, with a dissolved oxygen level of 8 mg/L.
To help your Katrina Cucumbers grow to the max, trellis them as soon as possible. This allows the stem to support the weight of the mature fruit, and allows you to grow to full maturity even in a tight space. We trellis our cucumbers using our Tomato Rollerhook® Assembly with Standard Tomato Clips running down the stem.
Once your plants have reached four feet, remove the very bottom leaves. Continue to remove the lowest leaves as the plant grows and produces fruit, because it will help the nutrients spread to the highest points. When you clip the leaves, be sure to clip them as close as possible to the stem, as a longer clipping is more susceptible to disease, which can then spread throughout the entire plant. Also, remove any tendrils and runners/suckers as they form; you want one, long continuous vine for the best production.
Katrina Cucumbers are what’s known as Parthenocarpic, which means that they do not pollinate. There are actually no male flowers for the Katrina Cucumber, so instead of pollination, these cucumbers produce their fruit using high levels of hormones.
Katrina Cucumbers are an excellent crop if you enjoy working in the garden. These plants produce fruit early and often, so check them regularly after approximately three weeks to catch the first batch of harvest ready fruit. You’ll also want to harvest as often as possible, because the more fruit you pick, the more the plant produces. On our crop alone, after just 20 days, our 18 plants produced a harvest of 280 cucumbers.
Tips and Tricks
The leaves on these plants may often appear to be unhealthy, but do not get discouraged. While it could be disease, most likely it is just superficial damage caused by the leaves rubbing together. When the leaves bump into one another, they begin to slowly dry out, deteriorate and darken, giving the appearance of a serious infection, while really being nothing more than a blemish on the leaf. You can cut and remove these leaves if you desire, and removing any bumping leaves can help prevent diseases, such as downy mildew, from occurring.
Even though these are a smaller cucumber, they are not for pickling. A mature Katrina Cucumber is only 6 inches long, which makes them appear to be ideal for pickling. However, these cucumbers taste better when eaten fresh, when pickled they become extremely bitter and lose their taste appeal.
If you have any questions about the Katrina Cucumber, leave us a comment, and we will get right back to you! Be sure to check back with us in December to see what plant we feature next.