THRISSUR:Paving the way for a fillip in ‘polyhouse’ cucumber cultivation, the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) has developed a seedless hybrid cucumber variety, ideal for polyhouse cultivation.
This is the first such hybrid developed by a public sector research team in South India, according to reports on Friday.
At present, multinationals have monopolised in ‘parthenocarpic’ variety of cucumber hybrids used in poly house farming which have the ability of producing fruits without pollination.
Farmers have to depend now on corporate sector for such variety of hybrids, and they have to pay in the range of Rs 5 to 7 per seed. The development of parthenocarpic hybrid by KAU offers availability of indigenously developed hybrid seeds to Kerala farmers.
Field tests in university farms have proved that a 10-cent polyhouse can yield five tons of fruits in three months. Dark green fruits, weighing 220 gm with a length of 24 cm and 15 cm width, can be stored up to one week at room temperature without any loss in quality.
The Southern Zone Research Extension Advisory Council of KAU, held at College of Agriculture, Vellayani, recommended this hybrid for multi-locational testing across selected polyhouses in all districts, said Dr Pradeepkumar T, associate professor, Department of Olericulture, College of Horticulture, Vellanikkara, who led the research team.
The team, according to reports, developed the hybrid variety by inculcating parthenocarpic trait into plant types with only female flowers through complex breeding programme.
The team had also developed earlier seedless hybrids of watermelon successfully. It has now followed with the technique of F1 hybrid seed production in parthenocarpic cucumber.
The state government has accorded high priority to polyhouse cultivation in the state by providing subsidy for polyhouse construction in 1000-odd panchayats.
Polyhouse cultivation requires specific cultivars in each crop, and farmers now depend on the seed produced from Korea, Thailand, imported and marketed by multinational companies.
KAU vice-chancellor Dr P Rajendran said cucumber is an ideal vegetable variety for polyhouse cultivation as the fruit is harvested in immature stage. The vertical height of the polyhouse structure can also be exploited for producing more number of fruiting nodes.
F1 hybrids have a very important role in boosting vegetable production in the state. Development of parthenocarpic cucumber is a great beginning in this direction. Time bound action for making available this technology to farming community is the next step, he said.
Normal cucumber types produce both male and female flowers and require pollination for fruit development, said Dr T R Gopalkrishnan, KAU director of Research. Development of fruit without pollination is a tricky trait in cucumber and naturally seedless fruits in this hybrid make the commercial production of seeds a cumbersome task, he added.
Seeds of the new hybrid cucumber are expected to reach the farming community within a year.