New cucumbers bred for Australian greenhouses

ABC Rural reports every crunchy green Lebanese cucumber you eat in Australia has been grown using imported seeds. It’s a huge expense for the commercial grower, averaging $300 per 1000 seeds.

Now, after three years of breeding, a researcher at the University of Sydney is on the verge of releasing new cucumber seeds varieties, bred especially for harsh Australian conditions.

Researcher Dr Nabil Ahmad, who achieved his Masters at the University of Jordan, is a pioneer seed researcher. He arrived in Australia 15 years ago, thinking this was a leading country for vegetable seed research. It turned out there was none, and now Dr Nabil is the leader.

He says the Lebanese cucumbers are all developed under high-tech greenhouses in the Netherlands, which have controlled lighting, temperature and are protected from European pests or diseases.

Dr Nabil says the Australian greenhouses are much simpler, with less than optimal humidity control, poor water quality, high temperatures, poor soil and local pests.

These are the biotic and abiotic stresses that can reduce the quality of the vegetable plants.

With multi-million dollars of financial backing from private investors, Abundant Produce, Dr Nabil is almost ready to release several locally bred Lebanese cucumber varieties; one mini cucumber to fit a child’s lunchbox, multi-fruiting summer plants and single fruiting winter varieties.

Posted 20 June 2014