Growing Cucumber crop nutrition advice

Everything you need to know about fertilising cucumbers, best practice, suitable products, field trials and more.

Crop nutrition advice for growing cucumber

  • Cucumbers perform best in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.

  • Cucumbers thrive well and give the best yield in sandy loam to slit loam organically rich and well-drained soil.

  • Cucumber crops thrive in warm temperatures, ideally between 21°C to 29°C.

  • Cucumbers require plenty of sunlight, at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day, for photosynthesis and optimal yields

  • Adequate moisture is essential, with consistent watering to keep the soil evenly moist especially during flowering and fruiting stages

  • Cucumber crops require a balanced intake of nutrients to ensure healthy growth, robust fruit development, and disease resistance.

Cucumber plants with healthy leaves
Cucumbers harvested in optimum condition

The Significance of Cucumbers in the UK

Cucumbers, scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, are one of the most versatile and widely cultivated crops globally. Belonging to the gourd family, cucumbers are renowned for their crisp texture, refreshing flavour, and culinary versatility. With origins dating back thousands of years to the ancient civilizations of India and China, cucumbers have transcended cultural boundaries to become a staple in cuisines worldwide.

Cucumbers hold a significant place in the agricultural sector of the United Kingdom, cherished for their culinary versatility and nutritional value. They are widely cultivated across the country, contributing to both local consumption and commercial markets. Cucumbers serve as a refreshing addition to salads, sandwiches, and various dishes, making them a staple in British cuisine and a popular choice for consumers.


The extent of Cucumber Cultivation in the UK

The UK dedicates substantial agricultural land to cucumber cultivation, with many hectares of land allocated to cucumber farming annually. Major food companies heavily rely on cucumber crops as a primary ingredient for salads, pickles, and processed foods, underscoring their importance in the food industry’s supply chain.


What are the Nutrient Requirements of a cucumber crop?

Cucumber crops have specific nutrient requirements essential for healthy growth and fruit development. They require adequate levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, with additional micronutrients like calcium and magnesium playing crucial roles in overall plant health and productivity. Balanced fertilisation and regular monitoring of soil nutrients are key to meeting cucumber’s nutrient needs.


What are the roles of nutrients in potatoes?

  • Nitrogen: Essential for leaf and stem growth, nitrogen promotes lush foliage, vigorous vegetative development, and overall plant health in cucumber crops.
  • Phosphorus: Crucial for root development and flowering, phosphorus stimulates early root establishment, robust flower formation, and efficient fruit set in cucumbers.
  • Potassium: Vital for water regulation and disease resistance, potassium enhances cucumber plants’ ability to withstand stress, maintain turgor pressure, and resist pathogens, ensuring healthy growth and fruit quality.
  • Calcium: Necessary for cell wall strength and disease prevention, calcium supports the structural integrity of cucumber fruits, reducing the risk of disorders like blossom end rot and enhancing overall fruit quality and shelf life.
  • Magnesium: Essential for chlorophyll production and photosynthesis, magnesium facilitates energy transfer within cucumber plants, promoting efficient carbon fixation and optimal growth and yield.


Estimated nutrient uptake (kg/t) by: 


Commercial yield1.50.302.00.121.77
Crop residue yield2.00.556.00.55


How can I spot Nutrient Deficiencies in Cucumbers?

Identifying nutrient deficiencies in cucumbers is crucial for maintaining healthy growth and maximising yields. One common sign of nutrient deficiency is yellowing or discolouration of leaves, which can indicate various deficiencies such as nitrogen, potassium, or magnesium. Nitrogen deficiency typically manifests as overall yellowing of older leaves, starting from the bottom of the plant and progressing upwards. Potassium deficiency may result in yellowing or browning along leaf margins, while magnesium deficiency often presents as interveinal yellowing, with green veins remaining intact. Additionally, stunted growth, poor fruit development, and leaf curling are also indicators of potential nutrient deficiencies. Regular monitoring of plant health and conducting soil tests can help pinpoint specific nutrient deficiencies, allowing for timely corrective measures through appropriate fertilisation practices.


Nitrogen DeficiencyLeaves are pale green (general chlorosis) 
Old leaves remain yellow, while younger leaves turn darker 
Plants will produce less stems and tubers 
Phosphorous DeficiencyPlant growth is stunted 
Darker color than normal 
Lower leaf surface gray green 
Leaflets roll upwards if deficiency is severe. 
It occurs on calcareous and heavy soils, where P can be fixed 
Potassium DeficiencyPotassium deficiency symptoms normally Scorched appearance with black pigmentation and necrotic edges (dead tissues) 
Symptoms appear on the young, full-sized leaves 
Common in light soils due to easier leaching.  
Calcium DeficiencyModerate calcium deficiency may not appear but in severe situations leaf’s margin can be affected 
Brown blotches may appear around the stolon end of the tubers 
Tubers may show severe skin cracking  
Deficiencies are severe in soils with pH below 5 
Magnesium DeficiencyChlorosis of leaf margins of older leaves. Yellowing Symptoms appear first on the older leaves, due to its mobility 
General chlorosis with veins remaining green  
Scorched appearance caused by interveinal necrosis 
Can occur on sandy soils and when high K level were applied 
Sulphur DeficiencySymptoms are similar to nitrogen deficiency, but Deficiency Symptoms occur first in younger leaves (as yellowing similar N deficiency) 
General chlorosis 
The yellowing is uniform and general 
It may occur on loamy sand soils 


Nitrogen Deficiency: Leads to yellowing of leaves and reduced growth and yield.

Blossom End Rot: Caused by calcium deficiency or irregular watering, resulting in dark, sunken spots on the fruit.


Use of ICL’s Products such as Polysulphate in Cucumber Cultivation

ICL’s products, like Polysulphate, play a crucial role in optimising cucumber cultivation. Polysulphate provides a balanced blend of essential nutrients, including sulphur, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, promoting healthy plant growth, strong root development, and improved fruit quality. The controlled nutrient release of Polysulphate ensures consistent nutrition throughout the growing season, enhancing cucumber yield and resilience to environmental stressors. Integrating Polysulphate into cucumber cultivation practices supports sustainable and productive farming methods, resulting in high-quality produce for consumers.

Guides & Articles


Here are some frequently asked questions we received from farmers regarding growing cucumbers.

  • A balanced fertiliser with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) is suitable for cucumber plants. Additionally, incorporating organic matter like compost or aged manure can improve soil fertility and provide micronutrients.

  • Cucumber plants require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day for optimal growth and fruit production. Ensure they’re planted in a location with ample sunlight exposure.

  • Cucumber plants need consistent moisture, so water them deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions. Ensure the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged to prevent root rot.

  • Common pests include cucumber beetles, aphids, and spider mites. Diseases such as powdery mildew, downy mildew, and bacterial wilt can also affect cucumber crops. Implementing proper pest management and practicing crop rotation can help mitigate these issues.