A large cucumber yield and excellent marketable appearance largely depend on the harvesting practices of the farmer.
Best harvesting practices are with the hand method. However, the mechanical harvest is also functional. But the process leaves out smaller high valued fruit. Mechanical harvesting is usually a one-time destructive process.
Harvested cucumber fruits should be fresh, clean, firm and have their green colour intact.
Post-harvest handling of fruits should be done gently at a cool temperature. Hydro cooling or refrigeration is best to store fruits -the process removes field heat and increases the shelf-life.
By all means, avoid exposing cucumber fruits to direct sunlight after harvest. Why? Because higher temperatures increase water loss and the yellowing of fruits. Also, extreme chilling could result in pitting, reduced storage life, rots and internal breakdown.
Therefore, best temperature practices are;
Ideal conditions; 10-12°c and 90-95% relative humidity.
Do not store cucumber fruits near other fruits or vegetables (bananas, tomatoes, melons) that produce ethylene gas. Doing so will result in rapid yellowing and decay of the fruit.
After harvest, sort and separate the good cucumbers from the bad. The best quality depends on a few factors such as size, colour, firmness and hydration, without stretch marks, void of points or yellow parts and no injuries.
Processing procedures include;
Washing; Cucumbers are washed with cold water and then disinfected using chlorine or par-acetic acid solution.
Waxing; The fresh cucumber undergoes a process of application of coverage or waxing, which is an essential conservation method. Waxing is done using different varieties such as organic oils, beeswaxes, sucrose esters, wood resins, polysaccharides and waxes based on whey protein.
Packaging methods are solely dependent on the seller's taste.
Packaging could involve covering cucumbers with a transparent rubber to protect them from damages.
Furthermore, it is packed into baskets, cardboard or wooden boxes. Usually, corrugated cardboard boxes are employed.
During the transportation of cucumbers to the market or exportation to external markets, the container used for packaging should be at a temperature of 10°c. It must limit the movement of cucumbers inside it.
In essence, fresh cucumber needs to be stored in a cooling system. Marketing can't take place without being pre-cooled.
Price factors are dependent on; The prevailing market price, cost of production, climate factors, technological and storage conditions, consumer taste and preference, political environment and trade policies.