Improving Seedless Cucumber Production to Diversify High Tunnel Crops in the North Central Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $200,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Purdue University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Wenjing Guan
Purdue University

Information Products


  • Vegetables: cucurbits


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, grafting, high tunnels or hoop houses, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: extension

    Proposal abstract:

    High tunnel tomatoes have excellent economical returns, and because of this, farmers tend to grow them every year, leading to increased risk of disease and insect pest problems. To reach high tunnels’ full potential and help mitigate the risks, identification of profitable alternative crops is critical to ensure sustainability of the production system. In this regard, seedless cucumber has drawn great interests from farmers in the region due to its great marketing potentials. However, challenges in high tunnel cucumber production do exist. Low soil temperatures in the early season, bacterial wilt, powdery mildew, and two-spotted spider mites have been obstacles preventing farmers from growing this crop in high tunnels. In this project, we will, 1) establish production practices for profitably growing high tunnel seedless cucumbers. Our approaches include evaluating and ultimately identifying varieties with great yield, fruit quality and disease resistance; modifying pruning systems to suppress foliar disease and insect pests; grafting cucumbers with cold tolerant rootstocks to extend the early harvest season; and evaluating bacterial wilt tolerance of grafted cucumbers. 2) Determine the economic return of including seedless cucumbers in high tunnel cropping systems. We will evaluate the economic feasibility of using grafting and intensive leaf pruning techniques, and develop enterprise budgets for high tunnelcropping systems involving seedless cucumbers. 3) Develop and deliver an outreach program to disseminate the project findings on high tunnel seedless cucumber production and economics to a wide range of farmers and extension educators in the North Central Region and beyond. Outreach activities will be conducted in three states (IN, IL and OH) using extension channels including workshops, field days, extension publications and videos, webinars, etc. Farmers’ interests and needs serve as the driving force for the project. Farmers will participate during project’s planning, implementation, and evaluation processes. At the project completion, we expect to have developed a comprehensive guide for growing seedless cucumbers in high tunnels covering information on consumers’ preferences, solutions to production challenges, and economic considerations. It is our expectation that this information will assist farmers in diversifying high tunnel cropping systems by incorporating seedless cucumbers. The ultimate goal of the project is to increase environmental and economic sustainability of high tunnel systems, as well as the roles high tunnels play in the local food community.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Learning outcomes:

    1) Increased knowledge about seedless cucumber varieties; 2) improved knowledge of cucumber disease and insect pest management; 3) increased knowledge of cucumber grafting, and acquired cucumber grafting skills; 4) acquired knowledge in the economic potential of high tunnel cucumber cropping systems.

    Action outcomes:

    • Acquire skills to profitably grow seedless cucumbers in high tunnels; 2) implement grafting to extend early season production; 3) use intensive leaf pruning techniques in high tunnel cucumber production.

    System outcomes:

    Acquire the capacity to enhance crop diversification in high tunnel systems with reduced pesticide usage and increased yield that would improve farmers’ income.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.