Why Are My Cucumbers Orange?

Yellow-Orange Cucumbers (Photo: virtualDavis)
Yellow-Orange Cucumbers (Photo: virtualDavis)

Why are my cucumbers turning orange? Yellow-orange, to be precise?

We have more productive cucumber plants than ever before, but the enormous fruit are turning yellow and orange before we can eat them. Here’s the reason why.

Cucumbers turn orange when they grow excessively ripe before harvesting, explains Veggie Gardener. The cucumbers first turn yellow, and if left on the vine, they quickly develop a vibrant orange hue. This happens because chlorophyll levels decrease past the point of peak ripeness. Orange cucumbers are very bitter and unsuitable for human consumption. (Source: Ask.com)

Bitter. It’s true. I taste tested just to make sure they were no longer suitable for human consumption. They aren’t, though our caretaker assured us that his wife can still turn them into pickles. I encouraged him to take all he could haul!

Green, Yellow, Orange Cucumbers (Photo: virtualDavis)
Green, Yellow, Orange Cucumbers (Photo: virtualDavis)

Our yellow and/or orange cucumbers are an unfortunate result of this extended heat wave and drought we’ve been enduring. It’s true we may have overprinted. But our beautiful cukes growing, greening and spoiling before our eyes. What to do?

The only way to prevent cucumbers from turning yellow and orange is to harvest them at the proper time. Ripe cucumbers have firm flesh with a medium-green rind and feel heavy for their size. Most varieties ripen between 50 and 70 days after planting. Size is also an important indicator of ripeness. Each cucumber variety has a different optimal size and quickly develops a bitter flavor if allowed to grow larger. Some cucumbers, such as those used for pickling, are naturally smaller than other varieties. Consequently, gardeners must know what type of cucumber they have planted and the target size for ripe specimens in that category. The most common cause of orange and yellow cucumbers is over-ripening, but the discoloration is sometimes a symptom of the Cucumber Mosaic Virus. According to Gardening Know How, the Mosaic Virus produces soft, mushy cucumbers with mottled patches and curled, withered leaves. This incurable virus also affects peppers. When a cucumber displays symptoms of the Mosaic Virus, the best course of action is to remove it from the garden. (Source: Ask.com)

The good news is that we don’t have Cucumber Mosaic Virus. But the bad news is that our compost is becoming overwhelmed with yellow and orange cucumbers!

Green, Yellow, Orange Cucumbers (Photo: virtualDavis)
Green, Yellow, Orange Cucumbers (Photo: virtualDavis)

About virtualDavis

A writer, storyteller and unabashed flâneur, George Davis (aka virtualDavis or G.G. Davis, Jr.) is the author of Rosslyn Redux: Reawakening a home, a dream and ourselves, a transmedia chronicle about rehabilitating an historic property in the Adirondacks with his bride. He blogs about storytelling, poetry, doodling, marginalia, flânerie, publishing, and other creativity-inspired esoterica at virtualDavis.com; posts sometimes exhilarating, often unnerving, occasionally euphoric, and always pollyanna "midlife mashups" at 40x41.com; chronicles his sailing adventures (and misadventures) at Sailing Errant; and delves into matters of parenting, babylandia, and childfreedom at Why No Kids? George formerly taught and coached at Santa Fe Preparatory School and The American School of Paris, and he co-founded and launched Maison Margaux: "Paris à la parisienne" in Faubourg Saint-Germain. He currently owns and operates Adobe Oasis in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his bride. George meanders on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr.
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