Caustic Cucumbers

Sep 30, 2014

Wild and burr cucumber varieties are having a very good year.
Credit Courtesy photo

Along with Iowa' s more traditional crops, two species of cucumber vines are having a bumper year.  You won't find them at the farmer's market though, because they're weeds. The light green vines can grow as long as 30 feet and will coil around anything they touch. They've been showing up in windbreaks in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Iowa State University Agronomy professor Bob Hartzler says the vines are very aggressive and will return year after year. He advises against using chemicals to control them, " using herbicides is not a good idea, because you can't use anything that will kill the cucumber without damaging the tree." Hartzler suggests cutting off or digging up the plants at the first sign of them in the spring.