By Le Hoang  December 14, 2020 | 11:28 am GMT+7
Vinh Loc and Ha Trung districts in Thanh Hoa Province, home to fragrant and tasty cucumber varieties, expect a bumper crop thanks to favorable weather.
A cucumber farm in Ha Linh Commune, Ha Trung District, next to Highway 217. Farmers here have a tradition of growing all kinds of vines in the gourd family like melons and squash. But cucumber is the most common and has been grown on over 20 hectares this time and is ready for harvest. Neighboring Ha Linh, other communes like Minh Tan and Vinh Thinh in Vinh Loc District are also the largest gourd producers in the central province. Farmed on over 50 hectares, this region supplies hundreds of tons of gourds to the provincial market.
The cucumber grown in Vinh Loc and Ha Trung belongs to the nep variety, which is characteristically not too large and is firm, fragrant and much loved. This year the weather has been especially favorable and produced juicy cucumbers.
In Ha Linh Commune, farmers have entered the harvest season. Do Thi Lien, with freshly picked cucumbers in her hands, said the farming cost of a 500-square-meter plot is relatively low at VND4-5 million ($173-216). “Every 500 square meters yields over five tons of cucumber. After cultivation, fertilizer and harvest costs, a farmer can earn VND2-3 million.” According to locals, cucumber cannot be harvested in one shot but instead has to be picked one at a time over a few days. Each batch is carried in plastic buckets or baskets for easy transportation to the curb.
Nguyen Thi Binh (left) of Minh Tan Commune is greeted by eager buyers as soon as she steps off her field with a fresh batch of cucumber. “I harvest cucumber here and take them home where I sell for VND15,000 ($0.65) per kilogram. If you don’t mind the effort, you can head to the market and bargain for a higher price. This season cucumbers are particularly in demand and fetch good prices, and so locals are happy.” Binh and her husband are one of the biggest household producers of gourds in Minh Tan Commune. This year they planted over one and half hectares, expecting to sell their crop for over VND200 million per harvest and earn VND100 million.
Binh picks the biggest cantaloupes to extract, dry and store seeds for the next season.
As this crop is ready for harvest, farmers in Minh Tan Commune prepare to plant the next for harvest near the Lunar New Year holiday in late January. The new crop has only begun to sprout. To keep out insects and maintain moisture, the fields are covered with nylon with small holes for the plants. “After plowing and drying, the soil is tilled with a machine and ridged high to prevent flooding,” Do Thi Tham of Bong Trung 1 Village explained while watering her crop. “Each ridge has a 50-70-centimeter trench to contain water and facilitate circulation in the field.”
Since cucumber is a vine, farmers have to place trellises for the plant to wrap around once it grows to a height of 30-40 centimeters. “Without the wooden poles, the plant produces fewer and smaller fruits,” Hong, 45, of Minh Tan Commune said.
Once the creeper gets off the ground, it needs to be watered and fertilized regularly to ensure growth. After around 40 days the plant begins to fruit and the cucumber is harvested shortly afterward.
A field in Minh Tan Commune where the cucumber plants are nearly a month old. Around this time the plants begin to climb up and the wooden poles are installed. According to local authorities, the place used to have just a few farmers growing gourds, but after seeing their success and the favorable climate, many more households in Vinh Loc and Ha Trung districts have switched to cucumber. Many adopt VietGAP standards for the planting and caring processes to ensure safe and clean crops for consumers.