Cucumbers a small but solid market in Wilson

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Cucumber growers aren’t close to planting as many acres as other crops in Wilson County, but 65 farmers still turned out for a regional cucumber and pickle meeting hosted by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Wilson County.

Farmers from all over Wilson County were joined by other growers from Nash, Edgecombe, Wayne and Greene counties at the Tuesday gathering.

According to Tommy Batts, agriculture extension agent for commercial horticulture, this is the first time in a couple of years that the meeting has been held in Wilson.

Attendees received credits for their pesticide application recertification.

Speakers delivered information about weed management, control of cucurbit downy mildew, spread of the emerging root knot nematode meloidogyne enterolobii, new regulations as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act, prooductivity of new varieties of cucumber and advice on fertilizer application.

Wilson County sold $1.8 million worth of cucumbers last year.

The majority of cucumbers grown in the county are destined for pickling at Mt. Olive Pickle Co. in the Wayne County town of Mount Olive, according to Batts.

Cucumbers are grown starting about April.

“You can get two crops of cucumbers in one year,” Batts said. “If you do that, you need to start about April and harvest your first crop around June and then plant the next ones immediately and you will get a second harvest in August. If you plant one crop, you can push planting into May or so. It all depends on the operation.”

Batts said cucumber acres will at least remain stagnant over last year. Wilson County grew 338 acres in 2017.

“I don’t think it’s going to decrease, especially with tobacco acreage going down and sweet potato acreage going down. Farmers are going to be looking for something different,” Batts said.