Cucumbers are among the fastest-growing fruits out there. (No, they aren’t vegetables!)
But when to pick a cucumber?
Generally, two months is enough to get a healthy and tasty harvest.
It also depends on many other factors, though. They tend to ripen at different stages depending on how much sunlight and water they get. Cucumbers at the bottom tend to take longer to mature, for example.
Apart from that, there are many varieties to consider. Some of them ripen a lot quicker than others, so you may have entirely different harvesting times with each.
Their sizes also vary. And the colors may contrast completely, despite being known for being a dark-green fruit.
When picking cucumbers, you need to know EXACTLY when to harvest if you want the tastiest and healthiest cucumbers. And that’s often difficult to understand.
Luckily for you, we’re going to show you EVERYTHING you need to know and a bit more. Check it all out!
When to Pick Cucumbers? 5 Signs to Know When a Cucumber Ready to Harvest
Let’s get straight to the point…
Here are a few strategies and signs to consider when looking for ready-to-pick cucumbers:
Gauge the Size of the Cucumber
First and foremost, HOW BIG IS THE CUCUMBER?
Cucumbers will achieve AT LEAST 4 inches in size depending on the variety (more on that later).
Others may be up to 8 inches. And some can get even a bit longer than that.
As a general rule, when they’ve been the same size for a week or so – that’s when you should harvest.
Cucumbers that aren’t growing anymore are a clear sign they NEED to be harvested. Otherwise, they will end up all mushy and inedible.
TO CONSIDER: Size is often relative to the plant. If you see the vine or bush dropping because the cucumbers are already too big, that’s also a harvesting sign.
Look at the Color
Cucumbers vary in color enormously, but most of them will boast a vibrant dark green.
This green tends to be sort of shadowy. Some light marks here and there. But generally, the dark is impossible to dismiss.
As the cucumber grows and matures, it tends to have a lighter tone. That is, really close to the color of the leaves – so they could be confused with one.
Maturity gives them this dark hue that contrasts with the leaves. That’s an obvious sign of maturity as the plant tries to bring predators around (to spread their seeds).
WORTH KNOWING: They turn yellowish, and their surface turns rough. They may still be edible, but most likely, they’re not (don’t let that happen).
Mature cucumbers are firm. When you squeeze the fruit, it shouldn’t move at all.
Most cucumbers tend to be firm as they grow, but they will have a slightly more squeezy texture. Plus, their skin tends to be a lot softer as the plant hasn’t developed completely yet.
Suppose you feel any portion of the cucumber to be somewhat mushy. In that case, that’s either a sign the fruit is already overripened, or something is happening internally with the cucumbers (insects eating it or disease).
CONSIDER THIS: The skin must feel solid and thick. If you feel like the skin is too thin and not sturdy, you should leave the cucumber to mature further.
Time from Planting
Every cucumber variety has a different time to be harvested. You will know this from the seed bag. They tell you how long you will have to wait for the harvest (minimum and maximum time).
But generally, cucumbers take between 50 and 75 days to be ready. That is two months or so.
You need to be careful with time because even a 15-day difference could significantly impact how edible your cucumbers are. Be careful with this and check the harvest time before planting.
IMPORTANT FACT: Cucumbers at the top that receive consistent sunlight will ripen much faster than the cucumbers at the bottom of the vine.
Watch the Plant
Another clear sign your cucumbers are ready to be harvested is the look of the plant. Vines tend to be lush and grand spreaders – unless the cucumbers are too heavy to carry.
If you see the plant being taken down by the cucumbers, that’s probably because they’re big and heavy enough. Once they match at least one other sign of maturity, that’s a sign to get them off.
Also, most cucumber plants tend to be AT LEAST 4-feet tall when their first cucumbers are ready. If the plant is shorter than that (unless it is a specific variety), the cucumbers probably aren’t ready.
USEFUL FACT: The plant will still be flowering as the cucumbers appear. This means more cucumbers are coming. If there aren’t any flowers insight, that’s probably the last batch of cucumbers.
Different Cucumber Varieties and Harvest Times
As said before, the typical cucumber grows to about 8 inches and boasts a dark-green tone. But does this change depending on the variety you’re getting?
Yes – totally!
That’s why we some of the popular varieties below with the respective factors to consider about each:
TIME TO HARVEST: 65 to 75 days
You could confuse most cucumbers with the Ashley variety, as they boast a dark-green hue and can grow between 6 and 8 inches long.
But when the cucumbers are ready to harvest, this variety has mildly prickly skin with bumps all around the body.
2. Bush Champion
TIME TO HARVEST: 50 to 70 days
These are some of the largest cucumbers out there, growing to over 12 inches in some cases. In contrast with most cucumbers, these are large and slim, rarely growing wider than 2 inches.
The texture of the Bush Champion is smooth but with mild ridges. The lumps on their exterior start to fade out as they get ready to harvest.
TIME TO HARVEST: 50 to 70 days
Among the most popular cucumbers, the English variety can grow to 15 inches and feature a smooth surface. They are slim and often don’t achieve more than 2-inch diameter.
Their skin is a lot thinner than other cucumbers, so they’re super-easy to consume. This skin tends to be dark green with ridges and a slightly wrinkled surface.
TIME TO HARVEST: 55 to 65 days
These cucumbers are a bit thicker but shorter than other varieties. You can get most Muncher cucumbers when they’re no more than 10 inches long and up to 3 inches in diameter.
The surface is a bit roughened with wrinkles and minor ridges. As for the color, you will spot the typical dark green but with paler extremes.
5. Pickle Bush
TIME TO HARVEST: 48 to 65 days
This variety is one of the quickest to mature, for which you can guess they don’t grow as long as other varieties. Most of them rarely reach over 5 inches long and 1-inch diameter.
The Pickle Bush variety grows super-quick which also means a lot of yields (perfect for growing in containers). Their color will be lighter than other varieties, as they take less time to mature and the skin to darken.
6. Salad Bush
TIME TO HARVEST: 55 to 70 days
One popular variety would be the salad bush, as the cucumbers tend to be among the tastiest. They’re also easy to grow and can reach 8 inches in length in most cases.
The dark-green skin is easy to spot because the surface contains tons of ridges. These protuberances tend to be a little more notable than in other varieties.
TIME TO HARVEST: 60 to 70 days
The most popular of all cucumbers: the Spacemaster grows to over 9 inches long and up to 3 inches in diameter.
You can get a Spacemaster cucumber when the skin looks light green, almost yellow. The surface tends to be mildly smooth, with barely visible ridges.
8. White Wonder
TIME TO HARVEST: 60 to 70 days
The name says it all: these cucumbers are whiter than the typical variety. This pale skin is easy to spot from afar and even easier to tell apart from the growing fruit that has a greener tone.
Most White Wonder cucumbers are also thick at 3 inches and can reach 8 inches in diameter, making them a bit fatter than the typical cucumber.
How to Harvest Cucumbers?
So, are your cucumbers ready to be harvested? This is often easy, but you could make it a lot easier and better with the right tips.
Consider these steps:
- Start at the Right Time of Day
Try harvesting in the morning. This is when the vines are cooler but also softer due to the wetness of dew.
You may not even need to pull the cucumber off the vines – a simple cut with a pruner will suffice.
- Use a Sharp Cutter
Whether you’re using clippers or pruners – it’s essential to sharpen them beforehand.
You don’t want to pull the vine. This could cause damage that may affect other cucumbers. Clipping the stem off is the best strategy here.
Avoid twisting as well. It may seem harmless but damaged portions consume nutrients that could go to other parts (like growing cucumbers).
- Leave a Section of Stem Behind
Similar to not pulling or twisting, cutting right off the connection between the stem and the cucumber is the best way to go.
This prevents the stem from rotting and the rest of the plant from struggling as it grows. Leave at least 1 inch of the stem if possible (preferably the entire branch), and it may continue growing from there.
- Wear Gloves and Be Gentle
You don’t want to hit your cucumbers by mistake and cause damage – right? That’s why you should consider wearing gloves as you harvest. They will help you avoid any unwanted damage as you cut and handle them.
Another reason to wear gloves is that some cucumbers are actually prickly. While they may not cause damage per se, you may feel a bit uncomfortable as you handle the fruit (which could cause you to drop them).
How to Extend Cucumber Harvest?
You can always let the harvest extend, whether you think the cucumbers are not ready yet or because you want the ripest ones.
As a general rule, cucumbers taste better when they just turned fully mature. But more mature cucumbers may also come with advantages, like a bit more juiciness and a slightly bigger size.
How can you make that happen? Check these tips:
- Keep the plants indoors. The lack of sunlight extends harvest season a bit, growing the cucumbers without causing them to go bad.
- Remove ripen fruits that are too close. Ripened cucumbers may produce chemicals that other cucumbers absorb. These chemicals accelerate their ripening.
- Don’t take underdeveloped cucumbers off the plant. They will consume some nutrients that would otherwise go to the mature ones and ripen them faster.
- Try to avoid any moisture. From rain to watering, don’t let the cucumbers get wet as this may also accelerate their ripening.
Overall, it’s all about slowing down their maturity. But this doesn’t mean they won’t mature – they will just last longer.
If you need to harvest them sooner, you can always do the opposite as the advice above. This means keeping the plant outdoors, letting the cucumbers ripen together, removing green ones, and wetting them.
It really depends on the variety and the age of the vine. Some types produce as much as 10 cucumbers per season. Others may reach 20 cucumbers in a matter of months.
Generally, expect at least 5 cucumbers from young vines and up to 20 from the oldest ones.
Preserving cucumbers is not much work. Cucumbers are relatively sturdy fruits that can withstand a few days on your pantry without rotting.
But for extra preservation, nothing works like a refrigerator. This is the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to keep a cucumber edible for a month.
If you want more time than that, consider pickling or canning. Pouring skinless cucumbers into vinegar or brine can last up to two years.
As long as you keep them watered and get rid of unwanted pests, you can grow the biggest cucumbers in little time. We recommend keeping the soil warm and watering an inch per week to keep them growing nicely. Fertilizer is also essential.
Harvest your Cucumbers at The Right Time!
Cucumbers will take a bit of time to mature completely before you can harvest them. And knowing when it’s time for that is essential.
With our advice on how and when to pick a cucumber, you should have no problem with that anymore.
Just remember, they should be of the correct color, size, and firmness. Don’t forget about the different varieties. And more importantly, always get a calendar to monitor their growth – it’ll help you enormously!
So, are you ready to get those cucumbers off the vine? Do it correctly, and you’ll enjoy the tastiest fruits!