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I am growing cucumbers in Central Florida. I have cucumbers that are rapidly growing and just starting to bear fruit. I read you should remove suckers or the growth branch off the main branch. How exactly do I need to prune cucumbers? Do I do this over the entire plant from the base to the top?

  • is your motivation to get fewer, larger cucumbers, to confine the vines to a particular space (vertical or horizontal) or because you have read somewhere that you "should" or that it will make the plants healthier? – Kate Gregory Mar 5 '14 at 18:45
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You don't say where you are growing your cucumbers. (IE, greenhouse, outside, covered bed, etc.) If you could give more information it would be helpful.

The kind of intense pruning you are talking about is generally only done for cucumbers being grown intensively, and especially those grown in greenhouses where growing space is very expensive and diseases more prevalent. Pruning these cucumber plants allows more air and light to reach the growing parts and keeps extra foliage out of the way so small fruits can be easily checked and thinned if necessary or removed if they become diseased. It also makes picking easier. However, although it can increase the quality of individual fruits, overall yields per vine are generally reduced by intensive pruning.

There are many different styles of cultivation/pruning for greenhouse cucumbers. Here is a publication by Oregon State University that gives their preferred method: Greenhouse Cucumbers. An excerpt:

When the plant reaches the support wire, several pruning options are used. The most common is to allow the plant to grow along the support wire about 12 inches, or two leaf nodes, toward the next plant. Allow a lateral to grow at each leaf node. The terminal and each of the laterals are allowed to grow another 30 inches, hanging from the wire, then pinched to terminate growth. When the fruit from the terminal and each of the laterals is harvested, remove these three hanging branches in turn, and allow three new terminals to grow from the main stem at the support wire. Repeat the process until the crop is terminated.

If you are growing cucumbers outside then you really don't need to prune intensively. All outside cucumber vines need are some stakes and some string or wide net trellis to twin their tendrils around and a little bit of redirection now and then when a vine starts to stray from the trellis. If you want to just stake your cucumbers and dispense with trellis, then yes, I'd also tie them as well, because once they start fruiting the vines will be much heavier and they may begin to fall off or slide down the stake.

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