The Q&A Archives: Shriveled Cucumbers

Question: My 'Sweet Success' cucumbers reach about 1 1/2 inches long and then turn yellow and shrivel up to a brown crisp. The lower leaves look yellowish even though I have fertilized. They are trellised and growing in good soil in a raised bed. Daytime temps. are consistently in the low to mid-90s. I keep the vines well watered. Despite the heat, there are plenty of blooms.

Answer: It sounds like your cucumbers are not being pollinated. Unpollinated fruits soon shrivel and fall off the plant. Check for bees as they are the best pollinators for cucumbers, squash and melons. Pesticides can kill bees and leave you with their job!

If no bees are present, you can use an artists paintbrush to transfer pollen from the male blooms (attached to the vine by a thin stalk) and the female blooms (have a miniature fruit at their base).

Sometimes with the cucurbit family of vegetables, you can have one type of flower (male or female) appear a few days before the other sex type of flower begins to show up. Fruit can only set when both are present. This situation corrects itself in a short time.

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