Cucumbers

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  1. General requirements
    • 1.1 Definition
    • 1.2 Grades
    • 1.3 Sound
    • 1.4 Similar Varietal Characteristics
    • 1.5 Properly Packed and Marked
  2. Size
    • 2.1 Requirements
  3. Maturity
    • 3.1 Definition
    • 3.2 Good Characteristics Green Colour
    • 3.3 Overmature Cucumbers
    • 3.4 Firmness and Freshness
  4. Cleanliness
  5. Shape
  6. Permanent Defects
    • 6.1 Hollow Heart
    • 6.2 Insect Damage
    • 6.3 Pulled Ends
    • 6.4 Scars
    • 6.5 Sunscald
    • 6.6 Other Permanent Defects
  7. Condition Defects
    • 7.1 Bruising
    • 7.2 Chilling Damage
    • 7.3 Decay
    • 7.4 Other Condition Defects
  8. Tolerances
    • 8.1 Field Cucumbers
    • 8.2 Greenhouse Cucumbers

1. General Requirements

1.1 Definition

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations provide grades and standards for greenhouse and field cucumbers. By definition, greenhouse cucumbers are cucumbers that have been grown in artificial conditions under glass or other protective covering. Field cucumbers are cucumbers that are not greenhouse cucumbers.

1.2 Grades

The grades for greenhouse and field cucumbers are Canada No. 1 and Canada No. 2. Greenhouse cucumbers when packed and sold, one dozen per package can have the following additional grade designations: Canada No. 1 Small, Canada No. 1 Medium, Canada No. 1 Large and Canada No. 1 Extra Large.

1.3 Sound

Sound means that at the time of packing, loading or final shipping point inspection, the cucumbers are free from decay, breakdown, freezing injury, soft or shrivelled specimens, over ripe specimens or other injury affecting the keeping quality. These requirements will be explained in more detail throughout this manual.

1.4 Similar Varietal Characteristics

  • Field Cucumbers

There is no such requirement for field cucumbers.

  • Greenhouse Cucumbers

Cucumbers of the same general shape and colour are considered as having similar varietal characteristics. This means that seedless cucumbers or English type cucumbers cannot be mixed with regular seeded cucumbers.

1.5 Properly Packed and Marked

1.5.1 Properly Packed

By Regulations "properly packed" means that when the cucumbers are packed in a package, they are not so packed as to be slack or overpressed or otherwise in a condition likely to result in damage during handling or while in transit.

In some instances, there may be a correlation between the tightness of the package and damage found on cucumbers. When cucumber damage is related to the tightness of pack, the following terms will be used to describe the tightness of the packages:

Very Tight: Means the extreme of the condition described under "tight", that is, too tight for best results which may or may not result in damage; too much bulge for the good of the product; signifies non-compliance with "properly packed".

Tight or Well Filled: Means sufficiently filled to prevent movement of the product within; furnishes the proper amount of bulge for the pack and product.

Fairly Tight or Fairly Well Filled: Means that the pack is not ideal, but is between "tight" or "well filled" and "slightly slack"; tight enough to prevent cucumbers from moving within the package sufficiently to cause injury under normal handling conditions; there may be the proper amount of bulge but slight looseness in layers.

Slightly Slack: Means that the package is not sufficiently full or tight to prevent movement of the cucumbers within the package and thus may or may not result in injury.

Slack: Means that the package is clearly not full and a free movement of the cucumbers is possible or evident; damage to the product is possible depending on the mode of transport and handling.

For packages that are "Slightly Slack" or "Slack" and when there is a weight declared on the packages, the inspector might want to check the weight as the packages might be underweight.

When slackness is due to decay, this should be stated. If the package does not comply with the properly packed requirement, it should be put under detention at shipping point or for the 9 named commodities at destination.

1.5.2 Properly Marked

The general requirements on marking are prescribed in Part III of the Regulations and must appear on the package. If a cucumber is shrink wrapped and the shrink wrap is transparent and not marked, no markings are required. Otherwise, if the shrink wrap is not transparent or markings are present, all the requirements for labelling must be met.

For greenhouse cucumbers, there is a special tolerance for the number of cucumbers found in the package. If the package contains a different number of greenhouse cucumbers than marked on the package, the package will be scored.

1.5.3 Colour Enhancement Of Shrink Wrap

The marketing of domestic cucumbers interprovincially that have been shrink wrapped with colour enhanced shrink wrap is not permitted to have a grade name marked on it, as the true nature and quality of the cucumbers cannot be readily discerned.

The marketing of imported cucumbers that have been shrink wrapped with colour enhanced shrink wrap is not permitted, as the true nature and quality of the product cannot be readily discerned.

2. Size

2.1 Requirements

2.1.1 Field Cucumbers

Canada No. 1:

  • have a minimum length of 152 mm (6 inches);
  • have a maximum diameter of 70 mm (2 3/4 inches);
  • do not, when in a package, with the exception of one specimen, vary more than 19 mm (3/4 inch) in diameter or 51 mm (2 inches) in length.

Canada No. 2:

  • Have a minimum length of 102 mm (4 inches).

2.1.2 Greenhouse Cucumbers

2.1.2.1 Seedless Cucumbers

Length Requirements

Canada No. 1:

  • have a minimum length of 280 mm (11 inches);
  • when packed and sold, one dozen per package, the following grade designation shall be put on the package.

Canada No. 1 Small
Shall have a minimum length of 280 mm (11 inches) and a maximum length of 317 mm (12 1/2 inches).

Canada No. 1 Medium
Shall have a minimum length of 317 mm (12 ½ inches) and a maximum length of 368 mm (14 1/2 inches).

Canada No. 1 Large
Shall have a minimum length of 368 mm (14 1/2 inches) and a maximum length of 419 mm (16 1/2 inches).

Canada No. 1 Extra Large
Shall have a minimum length greater than 419 mm (16 1/2 inches).

Canada No. 2
Shall have a minimum length of 254 mm (10 inches);

Minimum Diameter Requirements

Canada No. 1
Have a minimum diameter of 41 mm (1 5/8 inches).

Do not, when in a package, with the exception of one specimen, vary more than 13 mm (1/2 inch) in diameter or 63 mm (2 1/2 inches) in length.

Note: This requirement applies only to Canada No. 1 grade and not to Canada No. 1 Small, Canada No. 1 Medium, Canada No. 1 Large, Canada No. 1 Extra Large or Canada No. 2.

Canada No. 2
Have a minimum diameter of 38 mm (1 1/2 inches).

2.1.2.2 Other Types of Greenhouse Cucumbers

Minimum Length Requirements

Canada No. 1
Have a minimum length of 152 mm (6 inches).

Do not, when in a package, with the exception of one specimen, vary more than 13 mm (1/2 inch) in diameter or 38 mm (1 1/2 inches) in length.

Note: The requirement applies to Canada No. 1 grade only and not to Canada No. 2.

Canada No. 2
Have a minimum length of 114 mm (4 1/2 inches).

2.2 Measuring Size

2.2.1 Measuring Length

The length of a seedless cucumber is measured from one end to the other end and by passing through the middle on the longitudinal axis of the cucumber.

2.2.2 Measuring Diameter

Seedless Greenhouse Cucumbers

Canada No. 1
The diameter is measured at a point that is 127 mm (5 inches) from the stem end of the cucumber.

Canada No. 2
The diameter is measured at a point that is one half of the length of the cucumber from the stem end. Field Cucumbers and other Types of Greenhouse Cucumbers. By definition, the diameter is the greatest width at right angles to the longitudinal axis.

3. Maturity

3.1 Definition

Cucumbers are harvested when horticulturally mature, that is to say when they are firm, of a good characteristic colour and of a size dictated by the Regulations. At this stage, cucumbers have reached their prime eating quality although still "botanically" immature. Therefore the firmness, the colour and the size are the most important quality factors affecting the market value of cucumbers.

3.2 Good Characteristic Green Colour

The good characteristic green colour of cucumbers is to be assessed from the standpoint of the variety. For example, some field varieties are characterized by the presence of white spines especially at the blossom end. Burpee greenhouse cucumbers possess a medium green colour which at times during the season is accompanied by slight greying or white speckling effect over the sides.

In contrast, the Mark II greenhouse cucumber is noted for its dark green colour. These varietal characteristics must not be scored as defects or taken into consideration in the determination of the good characteristic colour. Cucumbers may have uncharacteristic colour as the result of permanent factors such as ground spots and leaf shading or as a result of condition factors such as holding cucumbers at temperatures higher than 15° C or storing/ transporting cucumbers with fruit that produces high levels of ethylene gas. These two factors will cause noticeable yellowing in cucumbers.

Both field and greenhouse cucumbers will be scored in:

Canada No. 1
When a cucumber has a good characteristic green colour over at least 85% of its surface area.

Canada No. 2
When a cucumber has a good characteristic green colour over at least 75% of its surface area.

Inspectors will score only areas of yellow, white or greenish yellow, but will not score areas of yellowish green where the green colour obviously predominates.

At shipping point, all uncharacteristic colour will be scored as a permanent defect against the specific grade tolerance.

At destination, a single cucumber may have a combination of permanent and condition colour problems.

Unless the inspector is certain that the disintegration of colour is attributable to permanent factors only, all colour will be reported as condition defects.

For example, a Canada No. 1 cucumber with a 10% ground spot (permanent defect) and an area of greenish yellow (condition defects) of 6% will be scored as failing to meet the characteristic colour requirement under condition defect.

3.3 Overmature Cucumbers

Yellowing may also be associated with overmaturity. Overmature field cucumbers and non seedless greenhouse cucumbers are characterized by seeds that are large, tough and fibrous. The pulp in the seed cavity is usually watery and jelly like. In the more advanced stage, pithy streaks may be found in the flesh. Affected cucumbers turn yellow, yield to slight pressure of the thumb, and are unpalatable.

Overmature cucumbers are scored against all grades in field and greenhouse cucumbers.

Be careful not to score uncharacteristic green colour as an overmature cucumber.

3.4 Firmness And Freshness

Firmness and freshness are associated with water loss. If cucumbers are still green, water loss may occur during prolonged holding at or below recommended temperatures. However, to prevent water loss, seedless greenhouse cucumbers which have a thin skin are shrink wrapped. Sometimes for long distance shipping, field cucumbers may be waxed. If they are yellowish and or have lost moisture during a brief period, this indicates poor handling, storage practices, or slow stock turnover. Field and greenhouse cucumbers that yield to a moderate pressure at one or both ends of the cucumbers are noticeably shrivelled, will be scored against all grades.

4. Cleanliness

The majority of cucumbers on the market today have been washed, waxed, or shrink wrapped and are clean, meaning that the cucumbers are practically free from dirt or staining.

In describing the cleanliness requirements for field and greenhouse cucumbers, the terms "Fairly Clean" and "Reasonably Clean" must be used.

Canada No. 1
Field Cucumbers must be fairly clean. This means that the appearance of the cucumber is not materially affected by dirt, spray residue or other foreign matter that is:

  • Thickly smeared on the cucumber and exceeding an aggregate area of 12 mm (1/2 inch).
  • Thinly smeared on the cucumber and exceeding 5% of the surface area.
  • Greenhouse Cucumbers must be clean. This means that the appearance of the cucumber is free from dirt, spray residue or other foreign matter which sharply contrasts with the background colour.

Canada No. 2

  • Field Cucumbers must be reasonably clean. This means that the appearance of the cucumber is not seriously affected by dirt, spray residue or other foreign matter that is:
  1. Thickly smeared on the cucumber and exceeding an aggregate area of 19 mm (3/4 inch).
  2. Thinly smeared on the cucumber and exceeding 10% of the surface area.
  • Greenhouse Cucumbers must be fairly clean. This means that the appearance of the cucumber is not materially affected by dirt, spray residue or other foreign matter that is:
  1. Thickly smeared on the cucumber and exceeding an aggregate area of 12 mm (1/2 inch) on regular cucumbers or 25 mm (1 inch) on long seedless cucumbers; or
  2. Thinly smeared on the cucumber and exceeding 5% of the surface area.

5. Shape

Canada No. 1

  • Field and Seeded Greenhouse Cucumbers.
  • They must be practically or fairly straight.

Seedless Greenhouse Cucumbers

The height of the inner arc of curvature does not exceed the diameter of the cucumber, when measured from a flat surface. Please refer to section 2.2.2 on how to measure the diameter.

All Cucumbers

Not more than very slightly constricted and not more than moderately or slightly tapered or pointed at either end.

Canada No. 2

  • Field and Seeded Greenhouse Cucumbers.
  • Are not moderately or materially curved.

Seedless Greenhouse Cucumbers

The height of the inner arc of curvature does not exceed 76 mm (3 inches), when measured from a flat surface. Please refer to section 2.2.2 on how to measure the diameter.

All Cucumbers not severely or materially constricted and not extremely or materially tapered at either end or otherwise misshapen.

6. Permanent Defects

6.1 Hollow Heart

Because of growing practices like high fertilization or because of advanced maturity, cucumbers may develop pithy streaks.

Score hollow heart and pithy streaks in all grades and in both types of cucumbers when found.

6.2 Insect Damage

Although there are a number of insects which cause damage to the cucumber plant, only a few appear to affect the cucumber itself. The most common are the Striped Cucumber Beetle, the Melon Caterpillar and the Pickle Worm. The adult Cucumber Beetles sometimes feed on the cucumber and when this injury is extensive, the cucumber becomes badly scarred, deformed and lumpy or warty in appearance. Both the Melon Caterpillar and the Pickle Worm bore into the cucumber. This type of injury is serious because it frequently permits fungal organisms to gain entry and cause decay.

Score in both types of cucumbers:

Canada No. 1

  • When it has penetrated the flesh of the cucumber; or
  • When it affects an aggregate area exceeding 12 mm (1/2 inch) for regular cucumbers or 19 mm (3/4 inch) for seedless cucumbers.

Canada No. 2

  • When it has penetrated the flesh of the cucumber; or
  • When it affects over 5% of the surface area in the aggregate.

6.3 Pulled Ends

Pulled ends occur when cucumbers do not cleanly break away from the vine during harvest which results in the breaking of the flesh outside of the stem attachment. Even though this injury is usually healed and dry, the following should be scored in:

Canada No. 1

  • When any breaking of the flesh outside of the stem attachment exceeds 9 mm (3/8 inch) in aggregate; or
  • When any breaking of the flesh is deeper than 3 mm (1/8 inch).

Canada No. 2

  • When any breaking of the flesh outside of the stem attachment exceeds 12 mm (1/2 inch) in aggregate; or
  • When any breaking of the flesh is deeper than 6 mm (1/4 inch).

6.4 Scars

Both types of cucumbers will be scored in:

Canada No. 1

  • When it affects more than 5% of the surface area of an individual cucumber.

Canada No. 2

  • When it affects more than 10% of the surface area of an individual cucumber.

6.5 Sunscald

Score any amount of sunscald in both types of cucumbers and in both grades.

6.6 Other Permanent Defects

All cucumbers should be free from any damage or defect, or a combination thereof, other than a damage or defect referred to in Section 6.1 to 6.5 that:

Canada No. 1

  • has broken the skin; or
  • materially affects the appearance, edibility or shipping quality of the cucumbers.

Canada No. 2

  • has broken the skin; or
  • seriously affects the appearance, edibility or shipping quality of the cucumber.

7. Condition Defects

7.1 Bruising

Score in both types of cucumbers and against both grades when the bruise is distinctly soft.

7.2 Chilling Damage

Cucumbers are susceptible to high and low temperature injury. Chilling damage will occur in cucumbers that are stored at 10° C, therefore cucumbers must be stored at temperatures between 10° C and 15° C with the optimum temperature between 12° C and 13° C.

Chilling damage is characterized by shallow surface pits of various sizes. However, if cucumbers are held at temperatures below 10° C for a prolonged period, small droplets will appear on the surface followed by decay. The symptoms will develop rapidly at a subsequent non chilling temperature and in low relative humidity.

Sometimes, when a wholesaler receives a load of cucumbers at a temperature below the chilling point, no symptoms are present on the cucumbers. However, a day later pitting, droplets and decay can start to appear. If this is the case, the inspector should do an inspection report on the temperature and the damage as they see it. Then they must advise the consignee that the load of cucumbers may have been subject to low temperatures and the condition of the cucumber may change at a later date.

Chilling damage will be scored against both grades in both types of cucumbers.

7.3 Decay

All grades require that field cucumbers be free from decay. Decay means any soft or mushy breakdown of the tissue from whatever cause. Decay may occur anywhere on the cucumber.

Examples of the types of decay follow:

Anthracnose: The first symptoms are the appearance of more or less circular, sunken, watersoaked areas. As the lesions enlarge, the fungi sporulate abundantly, producing orange-pink, slimy spore masses; later the lesions turn black. Often, the tissues underneath are dry and the sunken skin cracks exposing the tissues to invasion by soft rot organism.

Black Rot: Inconspicuous watersoaked spots on which patches of white, cottony mycelium are growing, mark the first appearance of this disease. Later these areas gradually darken and eventually black, fruiting bodies of the fungus may be seen.

Cottony Leak: The first symptoms are soft, dark green, watersoaked lesions; later, as the mycelium penetrates the tissues, water is liberated in large quantities. In the moderately humid atmosphere of containers during transit, a very luxuriant, white, cottony mycelium is produced.

Bacterial Soft Rot: This organism usually gains entrance by breaks in the skin. Infected areas become watersoaked and soft, and eventually become a hollow shell full of liquefied tissue with a nauseating odour.

Phytophthora Rot: This condition is characterized by circular, slightly sunken, wrinkled lesions. In advanced stages, these can expand to as large as 51 mm (2 inches) in diameter with a slight, white, powdery mould growth similar to Downy Mildew. However, the underlying flesh remains somewhat firm despite being watersoaked in appearance.

Score any amount of decay in both types of cucumbers and against both grades.

7.4 Other Condition Defects

All cucumbers should be free from any damage or defect, or a combination thereof, other than a damage or defect referred to in Section 7.1 to 7.3 that:

Canada No. 1

  • has broken the skin; or
  • materially affects the appearance, edibility or shipping quality of the cucumbers.

Canada No. 2

  • has broken the skin; or
  • seriously affects the appearance, edibility or shipping quality of the cucumber.

8. Tolerances

8.1 Field Cucumbers

Notwithstanding anything in these Regulations, in the grading of field cucumbers not more than:

  1. 5% of the field cucumbers by count do not exceed the maximum diameter or may be shorter than the minimum length.
  2. 10% of the packages, where the field cucumbers are in packages, do not exceed the permitted size variation.
  3. 1% by count may be affected by decay.
  4. 5% by count may have the same defect.
  5. 10% by count may have the same grade defects other than those referred to in (A) and (B) but including those referred to in (C) and (D) above.

8.2 Greenhouse Cucumbers

Notwithstanding anything in these Regulations, in the grading of field cucumbers not more than:

  1. 5% of the greenhouse cucumbers by count may be below the minimum length.
  2. 10% of the packages, where the greenhouse cucumbers are in packages, may contain a greater or lesser number of greenhouse cucumbers than the number marked thereon or may contain greenhouse cucumbers that exceed the permitted size variation.
  3. 1% by count may be affected by decay.
  4. 5% by count may have grade defects other than those referred to in paragraph (A) and (B) but including that referred to in paragraph (C) and still meet the grade standards for a grade.

Note: The inspector may notice there is no tolerance for minimum diameter and no tolerance for maximum length for Canada No. 1 Small, Canada No. 1 Medium and Canada No. 1 Large. If specimens are found not meeting this requirement, they will be reported under the 5% total tolerances.

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