Screening the Cucumber Germplasm Collection for Fruit Yield and Quality

Pickling Cucumber Improvement Committee Meeting Abstract

Nischit V. Shetty and Todd C. Wehner

Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University

Introduction. Fruit yield is an important trait in cucumber. Plant breeders are interested in developing new cultivars with concentrated fruit set for the benefit of growers using expensive hand labor or machine harvest systems. All available cucumber plant introduction (PI) accessions from the USDA National Plant Germplasm System collection, along with check cultivars and breeding lines (hereafter collectively referred to as cultigens), were evaluated for yield, fruit quality rating, and days to harvest in small plots harvested once at Clinton, North Carolina.

Methods. Plants of all cultigens were treated with ethephon to convert them to gynoecious sex expression in order to make the evaluation more uniform for all cultigens. A total of 817 cultigens (including 7 checks) were tested in the field for early, total, and marketable yield (number and weight), fruit quality rating, and days to harvest. The crop was grown using recommended cultural practices.

Results. The USDA collection also exhibited a wide range in diversity for marketable fruit number, fruit weight, percentage of culled fruit at harvest, fruit quality, and days to harvest. High yielding cultigens identified in the study could be used to develop high yielding cultivars.

The cultigens with the highest total yield in terms of total fruit weight among the pickling cucumber cultigens evaluated in the study were PI 209065, PI 326598, PI 137848, PI 285610, and PI 264666. Nine slicing cultigens had more total fruit weight than the standard slicing check ‘Sprint 440’. Of the nine, four cultigens (PI 234517, PI 118279, PI 304085, and PI 512614) had higher yield in terms of total fruit number. There were 229 middle-eastern (Beit Alpha) cultigens that had higher yield than the check (WI 2757) used in the study. The cultigens with the highest yield (fruit weight) were PI 167050, PI 163213, PI 532519, PI 211978, PI 357864, PI 183231, and PI 211117. Cultigens with the highest fruit yield based on total fruit weight in the trellis type were PI 264228, PI 478366, PI 390262, PI 532524, PI 390267, and PI 532520.

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