A field experiment was conducted at the crop pavilion, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ilorin, Ilorin in the southern Guinea savannah ecology to determine the effect of NPK fertilizer application on the growth and yield of three cucumber varieties. The experiment was designed as a 3×5 factorial in RCBD, arranged in split-plots and replicated three times. The main plots consisted of three cucumber varieties (Marketer, Marketmore and Poinsett), while the sub-plots were made up of five levels (0, 25, 50, 75 and 100kgNha-1) of NPK fertilizer.
Plant growth parameters (plant height, number of leaves/plant, number of branches per plant, leaf area per plant, number of male, female and total number of flowers) as well as yield characteristics (dry matter, fruit length, fruit circumference, number of fruits per plant and fruit fresh weight) were measured. Data were analyzed by the Analysis of Variance, using the split-plots model and significant means were separated by the Least Significant Difference at 5 percent probability level (LSD0.05). The results showed that the application of the NPK fertilizer appreciably improved the growth performances of cucumber, with 100kgNha-1 being the most outstanding rate while the yield characteristics were not improved with the application of NPK fertilizer. However, significant variety x fertilizer effects revealed that the application of 100kgNha-1 were best for the three varieties, suggesting indifferential nutrient requirements of cucumber varieties. Conclusively, the application of NPK fertilizer is beneficial for cucumber production and increasing the rate of application up to the highest level of 100 kg/ha gave the best results vegetatively.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TITLE PAGE i
TABLE OF CONTENTS viii
LIST OF TABLES xi
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Introduction 1
1.1.1 Health benefits of cucumber 2
1.1.2 Skin benefits of cucumber 3
1.1.3 Cucumber benefits for hair 4
1.2 Statement of experimental problems 5
1.3 Justification for the study 5
1.4 Objective of the study 6
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Background information 7
2.2 Botanical taxonomy 9
2.3 Nutritional health values 9
2.4 Plant description 10
2.4.1 Rooting system 10
2.4.2 The shoot 10
2.4.3 Flower types 11
2.4.4 The fruit 11
2.5 Growth stages 12
2.6 Climatic requirements 12
2.7 Soil requirement 14
2.8 Effect of NPK fertilizer on cucumber growth and yield 14
CHAPTER THREE: MATERIALS AND METHODS
3.1 Description of experimental site 19
3.2 Description of the experimental design 19
3.3 Field preparation and experimental layout 19
3.4 Soil sampling and analysis 20
3.5 Planting of seeds 20
3.6 Agronomic management practices 20
3.7 Data collection 21
3.8 Data analyses 22
CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS
4.1 Results of soil analysis 23
4.2 Effects of variety and fertilizer application on growth parameters of
cucumber plant 24
4.2.1 Effects on vine length 24
4.2.2 Effects on number of leaves per plant 27
4.2.3 Effects on leaf area per plant 29
4.2.4 Effects on the number of branches per plant 31
4.2.5 Effects on flowering traits of cucumber 33
4.3 Effects of variety and fertilizer application on yield and yield components
of cucumber 35
4.3.1 Effects on dry matter 35
4.3.2 Effects on Yield components and fruit yield 38
CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION
5.1 Preamble 40
5.2 Effects of NPK fertilizer on growth parameters 41
5.3 Effects of NPK fertilizer on yield components and fruit yield 42
5.4 Varietal responses 42
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 43
LIST OF TABLES
Table 4.1: Physical and chemical properties of the soil on experimental site 23
Table 4.2: Mean squares from the analysis of variance for vine length of cucumber 25
Table 4.3: Main effects of variety and fertilizer application on the vine length of
Table 4.4: Mean squares from the analysis of variance for number of leaves of cucumber 27
Table 4.5: Main effects of variety and fertilizer application on the number of leaves of
Table 4.6: Mean squares from the analysis of variance for leaf area of cucumber 29
Table 4.7: Main effects of variety and fertilizer application on the leaf area of cucumber 30
Table 4.8: Mean squares from the analysis of variance for number of branches of
Table 4.9: Main effects of variety and fertilizer application on the number of branches of
Table 4.10: Mean squares from the analysis of variance for the flowering traits of
Table 4.11: Main effects of variety and fertilizer application on the flowering traits of
Table 4.12: Mean squares from the analysis of variance for dry matter of cucumber 36
Table 4.13: Main effects of variety and fertilizer application on the dry matter of
Table 4.14: Mean squares from the analysis of variance for the yield components and
fruit yield of cucumber. 38
Table 4.15: Main effects of variety and fertilizer application on the yield components and
fruit yield of cucumber. 39
- Background Information
The cucumber most likely originated in India (south foot of the Himalayas), or possibly Burma, where the plant is extremely variable both vegetative and in fruit characters. It has been in cultivation for at least 3000 years. From India the plant spread quickly to China, and it was reportedly much appreciated by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Romans used highly artificial methods of growing the cucumber when necessary to have it for the Emperor Tiberius out of season.
Roman Empire was the place where cucumbers were truly embraced by both nobility and lower classes. The ease of production and wide variety of types and tastes ensured that cucumbers remained popular in Italy for several centuries. In addition to eating, cucumbers were also widely used as a source of several medicinal remedies (both cultivated and wild cucumbers of cucumbers were used for creation of over various 40 remedies). They treated everything from bad eyesight, scared mices, cured scorpion bites, and carried around wastes by wives who wished to have children. The most famous example of cucumbers fascination in Ancient Rome came during the short reign of Emperor Tiberius (14 – 16 AD) who demanded to eat cucumber on every day of the year. During summer special gardens were tended just for his vegetables, and in winter cucumber was grown on moveable bed frames that were moved to be exposed to the sun, or illuminated with the mirror-stones.
Age of Discovery proved to be a very important factor of spreading cucumber all across the word. Christopher Columbus brought cucumbers to Haiti in 1494 where they were grown by Spanish settlers and distributed further across New World. During 16th century, European trappers in North America introduced cucumbers to the native Indians in the region of Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Those tribes quickly saw the potential and nutritious value of cucumbers and watermelons, integrating them into immediately into their fields.
In 2010 worldwide cucumber production was 57.5 million tons, with majority of the world’s production and export being located in China (40.7 million tons).
Most of the distinct types of cucumber grown today were known at least 400 years ago. Present forms range from thick, stubby little fruits, three to four inches long, up to the great English greenhouse varieties that often reach a length of nearly two feet.
- Health benefits of cucumber
The health benefits of cucumber include:
- Calories in cucumber are very low and it contains just 15 grams of calories per 100 grams. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Daily consumption of cucumbers can be regarded as a remedy for chronic constipation.
- Cucumber peel is a very good source of dietary fibre that helps to reduce constipation, indigestion and prevents stomach related diseases by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.
- It also has healing attributes in relation to the diseases of urinary bladder and kidney. The water content in cucumber aids the function of kidney by promoting urination. Regular consumption of cucumber can also dissolve kidney stones over time.
- Digestive problems like heartburn, acidity, gastritis and even ulcer can be cured by daily consumption of cucumber or cucumber juice. It can also treat the problem of constipation. It contains an enzyme called Erepsin which aids in the digestion of protein.
- Not just cucumber and its juice, but its seeds are also highly beneficial. Cucumber seeds are considered as a natural remedy to eliminate tape worm from intestinal tracts. The seeds also have anti inflammatory properties which are effective in the treatment of swellings of mucous membranes of the nose and throat.
1.1.2 Skin benefits of cucumber
Most of the hair care and skin care products are manufactured using cucumber as one of its main ingredients. The raw fruit is also used in many beauty parlours in facial processes to reduce wrinkles and puffiness around the eyes. Some of the major skin benefits of cucumber are:
- The greatest and most important skin benefit of cucumber is revitalisation of the skin. Facial masks containing cucumber juice are beneficial for skin tightening.
- It has a mild bleaching property which can reverse skin tanning and get youthful and glowing skin.
- If you are worried about eye puffiness then cucumbers can provide you with instant relief. The ascorbic acid and caffeic acid in cucumber brings down the water retention rate which in turn diminishes the swelling and puffiness around the yes.
- Putting cucumber slices or puree on sunburnt skin brings instant relief. Thus cucumber is a natural and gentle way to treat sun burn.
- The most common use of cucumber pulp and juice is to improve complexion and rejuvenate the skin. Mix cucumber juice with a few drop of lemon juice and apply it as a facial mask. This will improve the complexion and will add a glow to the skin.
1.1.3 Cucumber benefits for hair
- The most important benefit of cucumber for hair is its hair strengthening properties. Cucumber in the form of the juice contributes to the hair growth primarily due to its content of silicon, sulphur sodium, phosphorus and calcium which are some of the most needed nutrients required for hair growth. Drink cucumber juice daily to control hair fall.
- Cucumber juice can also be used as a hair rinse to get silky and shiny hair. It conditions the hair and makes it more manageable.
Other uses of cucumber include:
- Cucumber can also be used to remove stubborn stains and tarnish from stainless steel tools in the house. It also restores the lost shine of the tools. Chemicals found in cucumber are also used in making shoe polishes to make them more their shiny.
- Place slices of cucumbers in containers around the garden to control slugs and pest of the area. The chemical in these vegetables releases a scent which wards of the pests and insects.
However, cucumbers are not entirely reaction free; they do have some side effects. Some of these are:
- Allergies, especially around oral cavity, itchiness and swelling may also develop due to allergy. This can be redeemed by cooking the food rather than eaten it in its raw form.
- Cucumber can also lead to gastritis problems in some people which are mainly caused due to a compound known as cucurbitacin which causes indigestion. This can be avoided by eating cucumbers which have undergone breeding or whose compound has been removed.
- Cucumber can also cause toxicity and baldness caused by chemicals found in the cucumbers. This usually happens when one consumes excess of cucumber.
1.2 Statement of Experimental Problems
The traditional system of restoring soil fertility through shifting cultivation in most African countries is giving way to continuous cropping on the same land which is due to limited available arable land for cultivation; this has resulted in gradual depletion of the soil fertility and crop yield (Ojeniyi et al., 2008). The invention of chemical/inorganic fertilizers has allowed man to raise soil productivity higher than could be attained by relying on natural recycling process. Many studies of various crops have shown significant advantages of applying inorganic fertilizers (Akinride, 2006). However, very little or no information existed in Nigeria on the response of cucumber to soil amendment either using organic or inorganic fertilizer. There is therefore the urgent need to evaluate the response of cucumber varieties to fertilizer application.
- Justification for the study
Cucurbitaceae family to which cucumber is an important member of fruit vegetables all over the world. It is one of the largest groups and its wide adaptation to wider environment ranging from acid to the humid tropic makes it a universal crop (Bates et al., 1990).
Cucumber is a major fruit crop that is eaten raw, cooked among many beneficial uses. It serves as a major source of vitamins; still it is low in productivity owing to several factors, with nutrient/water observed to be the limiting factor (Ayatamuno et al., 2007). Currently with improved standard of living and increasing population, there is high demand for exotic food materials of which cucumber is one.
However, the quantity been produced cannot meet the consumers demand (Opara et al 2012). Many studies of various crops have shown significant advantages of applying inorganic fertilizers (Akinride, 2006). It is important to know the appropriate rate of application of fertilizer as improper use can cause toxicities (Morteza 2010).
Hence there is need to evaluate the possibility of increasing production of cucumber using inorganic fertilizer.
1.4 Objective of the study
It is therefore the objectives of the study to:
(i) evaluate the effect of different rates of inorganic fertilizer using NPK 20:10:10, on the growth and yield parameters of cucumber,
(ii) evaluate varietal responses to treatment application under a southern Guinea savanna agro ecology.
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