The Q&A Archives: Cucumbers

Question: My cucumbers start off well after the females blossom but then they start turning yellow. Problem is what, too much water, soil deficiency, disease? Thanks for any advice.

Answer: Lack of pollination is probably the cause. Even if there's insect activity and both male and female flowers are open, sometimes excessive hot weather can keep the pollen from doing its job. You can provide the best growing conditions possible to help your plants thrive, and then hope the weather and the insects help things along. Water deeply once or twice a week so that the top 12 inches of soil gets moist. That's where most of the roots will be concentrated. If you haven't already, side dress with a 5-10-10 fertilizer. Be sure to check the bottoms or blossom ends of the aborted cucumbers. Blossom end rot might be the cause. Blossom end rot is a physiological condition caused by a lack of calcium at the growing tip of the fruit. While your soil may have adequate calcium, fluctuations in soil moisture content from dry to wet really increase the incidence of blossom end rot. It is especially bad on the early fruit each summer and in sandy soils. The damage occurs as cells die at the tip of the fruit. In time (and as the fruit grows) the spots enlarge and turn black. So, by the time you see it, the damage actually has already occurred some time back. Remedies include: having a soil test to make sure calcium levels are adequate, adding organic matter to a sandy soil to increase its moisture holding capacity, keeping plants evenly moist, especially during the development of the first fruits (mulch helps maintain soil moisture), and spraying plants with a Blossom End Rot spray (contains calcium) which can usually be purchased from your local garden center. Hope this information helps!

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