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Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas

versión impresa ISSN 2007-0934

Rev. Mex. Cienc. Agríc vol.7 no.6 Texcoco ago./sep. 2016



RNO 3 - /K + ratio in nutrient solution on growth and yield of hydroponic cucumber

Saúl Parra Terraza1  § 

Gustavo Eduardo González Terán1 

Werner Rubio Carrasco2 

Sergio Hernández Verdugo1 

1Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa-Facultad de Agronomía. Carretera Culiacán-El dorado km 17.5. Culiacán, Sinaloa, México. (;

2Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo A. C. Culiacán, Sinaloa, México. (


NO3 - / K+ ratio in the nutrient solution (SN) is considered a key factor to obtaining high yields; however, by the lack of research on the subject, its importance is subject to discussion. The aim of this study was to evaluate under greenhouse the effect of three ratios NO3 -/anions (40, 60 and 80/100) and three of K+/cations (15, 35 and 55/100) on growth, mineral composition and yield on cucumber (Cucumis sativus L. cultivar Luxell). The experiment consisted of two stages: first stage from sowing to transplant, and second from transplanting to harvest; in both stages the experimental design was completely randomized with a factorial arrangement 32. In stage 1, the effects of NO3 -/K+ ratios on growth variables were not significant, although the concentrations of P, K and Mg on leaves were significant. In Stage 2, there were differences (p≤ 0.05) in yield for NO3 -/ anions and K+/ cations ratios, but not for their interaction. The highest yield (90.56 t ha-1) was obtained with the intermediate ratio (60/100 NO3 -/anions), while for K+/ cations the highest yield (83.40 t ha-1) was also obtained with the intermediate ratio (35/100). With high ratios of NO3 -/anions and K+/ cations, yields decreased 9.98 and 31.84%, respectively, so it is essential to have balance in the management of NO3 -/anions and K+/cations ratios in the SN to not alter nutrient concentrations in leaves and reduce the yield of cucumber grown in hydroponics.

Keywords: Cucumis sativus; N/K ratio; nitrate/anions ratio; potassium/cation ratio; yield


A la relación NO3 -/K+ en la solución nutritiva (SN) se le considera un factor clave para obtener altos rendimientos; sin embargo, por la falta de investigaciones al respecto, su importancia está sujeta a discusión. El objetivo de este trabajo fue evaluar en invernadero el efecto de tres relaciones NO3 -/aniones (40, 60 y 80/100) y tres de K+/cationes (15, 35 y 55/100) sobre el crecimiento, composición mineral y el rendimiento de pepino (Cucumis sativus L. cultivar Luxell). El experimento constó de dos etapas: la 1, desde la siembra al trasplante, y la 2, desde trasplante hasta cosecha; en ambas etapas el diseño experimental utilizado fue completamente al azar con arreglo factorial 32. En la etapa1, los efectos de las relaciones NO3 -/K+ sobre las variables de crecimiento no fueron significativos, aunque para las concentraciones de P, K y Mg en hojas hubo significancia. En la etapa 2, hubo diferencias (p≤ 0.05) en el rendimiento para la relación NO3 -/aniones y para K+/cationes, pero no para su interacción. El mayor rendimiento (90.56 t ha-1) se obtuvo con la relación intermedia (60/100 NO3 -/aniones), mientras que para la relación K+/cationes el mayor rendimiento (83.40 t ha-1) fue obtenido también con la relación intermedia (35/100). Con relaciones altas de NO3 -/aniones y de K+/cationes, los rendimientos disminuyen 9.98 y 31.84%, respectivamente, por lo que es indispensable hacer un manejo equilibrado de las relaciones NO3 -/aniones y de K+/cationes en la SN para no alterar las concentraciones nutrimentales en las hojas y reducir el rendimiento de pepino cultivado en hidroponía.

Palabras clave: Cucumis sativus; relación N/K; relación nitrato/aniones; relación potasio/cationes; rendimiento


In 2014, in Mexico were planted 16 902 ha of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), with a production of 707 632 tons, of which 43% were produced in the state of Sinaloa, in an area of 4 203 ha (SIAP, 2014). In Sinaloa cucumber is grown in open field and under protected conditions (greenhouse and shade house). In both production systems apply SN containing dissolved fertilizer to supply nutrients to the plant.

Of the 17 essential nutrients, usually vegetable producer applies 12 (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Fe, Cu, Zn, Mn, B and Mo), since C, H, O, Cl and Ni, are not applied, because the first four plants obtain them from water or air and Ni is not used because its impact is unknown in vegetables or because it is considered that the plants obtain Ni from fertilizer or water irrigation; Ni is found as pollutant in fertilizers (Brown et al., 1987). Of these nutrients N and K are used in higher amounts because are important for plant yield and the interaction N-K usually occurs in agricultural ecosystems (Johnston and Milford, 2009).

N is a DNA, RNA, proteins and enzymes, chlorophyll, ATP, auxins and cytokinins component (Hawkesford et al., 2012), and can be supplied to plants in four ways: nitric, ammoniac, ureic and amino acids, although the nitrate form is preferentially absorbed by plants grown in soils (Masclaux-Daubresse et al., 2010), which is the most widely used in horticultural crops. K participates in the electric potential gradient in cell membranes, turgor, enzyme activation, photosynthesis, sugars and starch metabolism, protein synthesis, opening and closing of stomata, stabilization cellular pH and cell cation-anion balance (Zhang et al., 2010).

An adequate supply of K is associated with increased yield and fruit size of many horticultural crops (Kanai et al., 2007). A high concentration of NO3 -, regarding H2PO4 - and SO4 2- anions, and a low concentration of K +, compared to Ca2+ and Mg2+ cations in the SN indicates a high ratio of NO3 -/K+, also known as the N/K ratio. Steiner (1961) mentions that many people consider important the N/K ratio; however, this importance is currently subject to discussion by the lack of studies. In Mexico and other countries there are few studies of N/K ratio in SN, using NO3 -/ anions and K+/ cations ratios, as to define these ratios is necessary to consider the methodology proposed by Steiner (1984), however this technique is not common knowledge or has no general acceptance.

The objective of this study was to determine the effect of three NO3 -/anions (NO3 -, H2PO4 - and SO4 2-) and three K+/ cations (K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+) ratios, based on the universal Steiner SN on growth, mineral composition and yield of a hybrid cucumber grown under greenhouse conditions.

Materials and methods

The study was conducted in a greenhouse from to the Faculty of Agriculture of the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, located at 24° 37' and 24.40' north latitude and 105° 24' and 107° 26' and 35.69' west longitude, to an altitude of 38 m. The experiment consisted of two stages: stage 1 from sowing to transplanting, with a duration of 38 days and stage 2 from transplantation to harvest, lasting 78 days. In stage 1, cucumber seeds (Cucumis sativus L. cultivar Luxell) American type, indeterminate growth, were sown in polystyrene trays of 128 cavities with individual volume of 35 cm3 containing coconut fiber as substrate, previously washed with distilled water.

The experimental design was completely randomized with a factorial arrangement 32, and four replications, for a total of 36 experimental units, where each experimental unit consisted of 30 plants. The factors and levels evaluated were: 1) NO3 -/anions ratios (NO3 -, H2PO4 -, SO4 2-) (40/100, 60/100 and 80/100); and 2) K+/cations ratios (K+, Ca2+, Mg2+) (15/100, 35/100 and 55/100). By combining the three NO3 -/anions with three ratios K+/cations ratios result in nine SN, which were designed from modifications of the universal SN (Steiner, 1984) and consisting of varying the concentration of NO3- in relation to H2PO4 - and SO4 2-, thus K+ concentration regarding Ca2+ and Mg2+. The chemical composition of SN was calculated and adjusted to an osmotic potential of -0072 MPa (Table 1), according to Steiner (1984) proposal.

Table 1. Chemical composition of nutrient solutions used in the experiment. 

NO 3 - (mol c m -3 ) H 2 PO 4 - (mol c m -3 ) SO 4 2- (mol c m -3 ) K + (mol c m -3 ) Ca 2+ (mol c m -3 ) Mg 2+ (mol c m -3 )
9.14 1.71 12 3.43 13.45 5.98
12.86 1.07 7.5 3.21 12.61 5.6
16.13 0.5 3.53 3.03 11.87 5.27
8.5 1.59 11.15 7.43 9.56 4.25
12 1 7 7 9 4
15.12 0.47 3.31 6.61 8.5 3.78
7.93 1.49 10.41 10.91 6.18 2.75
11.25 0.94 6.56 10.31 5.84 2.6
14.22 0.44 3.11 9.78 5.54 2.46

The SN were prepared with inorganic salts reagent grade and distilled water and the following micronutrient concentrations (mg L-1) were added: 2.5 Fe, 0.5 Mn, B 0.5, Cu 0.02 and Zn 0.05 (Parra et al., 2010). Fe was provided as Fe-EDTA and SN pH was adjusted to 5.5 ± 0.1 with 1N HCl or 1N NaOH. Eight days after planting, the application of SN started at 50% of its concentration for 10 days, the remaining 20 days, SN were applied at 100%. The plants were watered daily at 08:00 and 14:00 h spraying the foliage with atomizers (1 L capacity) until runoff of the solution through lower holes of the cavities. To evaluate the effect of the factors on the growth variables (height, stem diameter and dry weights of leaves, stems and plants) six plants were selected per treatment, and to determine the mineral composition of the stem, 20 plants were selected, 38 days after planting, four composite replications were integrated, each with five plants, whose shoots were fractionated on leaves and stems. A chemical analysis was performed to this organs to determine the concentrations of N, P, K, Ca and Mg according to methodologies proposed by Motsara and Roy (2008).

In stage 2, cucumber plants of 38 d after sowing were used, from stage 1, previously subjected to the treatments described in Table 1. The plants were transplanted in a subirrigation closed circuit hydroponic system, consisting of two plastic containers with capacity of 20 L each, painted black and interconnected with rubber hose of 1.25 cm in diameter. One of the containers contained 18 L of coconut fiber as substrate, previously washed with distilled water; coconut fiber had a bulk density of 0.09 g cm-3, a real density of 0.051 g cm-3, and total porosity of 82.4% of volume, aeration porosity 19.8% of volume and water retention capacity 62.7% of volume.

In a bowl two cucumber plants were placed, led to a stem and on the other 10 L of SN of the corresponding treatment (Table 1) to perform two daily irrigations to the coconut fiber, the first at 7 am and the second at 12 pm; evapotranspired water was recovered daily through mark with distilled water and pH of the SN was adjusted to 5.5 ± 0.2 with HCl or NaOH 1N; SN were renewed every 15 d and prepared as described in stage 1. The treatments were distributed in a completely randomized design with factorial arrangement of treatments 32 and five replications. The harvest period lasted 37 d and the variables evaluated were yield (kg ha-1), number of fruits per plant, average fruit weight, fruit length and nutrient concentration in leaves, to which are quantified the concentrations of N , P, K, Ca and Mg with the methods described in stage 1. Analysis of variance of response variables was performed by evaluating the main factors from the factorial design: 1) NO3 -/ anions (NO2 -, H2PO4 - and SO4 2-) ratio, and 2) K+/ cations (K+, Ca2+, Mg2+) and determined the interaction of these factors.

Results and discussion

Stage 1

Growth variables. The analysis of variance showed no significant effect on the interaction NO3 -/ anions x K+/cations in any of the variables of seedling growth, indicating that N/K ratio did not affect growth, 38 d after sowing. However NO3 -/anions ratio was significant (p≤ 0.05) for plant height and K+/cations ratio was for stem dry weight (PST) (Table 2). The greatest height was obtained with 80/100 NO3 -/anions in SN (14.2 at 16.1 mol NO3 - m-3) and the lowest with 40/100 NO3 -/anions (7.93 at 9.14 mol NO3 - m-3). This result agrees with that reported by Preciado et al. (2002), who found that high doses of nitrogen (12 at 14 mol NO3 - m-3) promoted the growth of stem in melon (Cucumis melo L.), while in Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), Moreno et al. (2011) mention that 12.3 mol NO3 - m-3 increased stem length. The biggest PST (0.22 g).

Table 2. Effect of NO3 -/anions and K+/cation ratio in nutrient solution in height (A), stem diameter (DT), dry weight of leaves (PSH), stems dry weight (PST) and plants dry weight (PSP) of cucumber, 38 days after planting. 

Factor A cm DT mm PSH g PST g PSP g
Relación porcentual de NO3 -/aniones
40/100 27.5 b 4.8 a 0.37 a 0.19 a 0.56 a
60/100 30.4 a 4.7 a 0.39 a 0.18 a 0.57 a
80/100 30.7 a 4.7 a 0.41 a 0.2 a 0.61 a
Relación porcentual de K+/cationes
15/100 28.9 a 4.6 a 0.42 a 0.22 a 0.58 a
35/100 29.6 a 4.8 a 0.37 a 0.18 b 0.59 a
55/100 29.9 a 4.9 a 0.38 a 0.17 b 0.56 a
NO3 -/aniones X K+/cationes ns ns ns ns ns

It was obtained with the lower K+/ cations (15/100) ratio, possibly this concentration covered K demand of plants and promoted the absorption of N, P, Ca and Mg in stem (Table 5), as these nutrients had the highest concentrations in this organ, while the lowest PST (0.17 g) was obtained with higher K+/cations (55/100) ratio, which had the highest concentration of K in stems and lower concentrations of N, P, Ca and Mg, perhaps because the ratio 55/100 K+/ cations exceeded K requirements by plants and high absorption of K reduced the concentrations of N, P, Ca and Mg. This result agrees with that mentioned by Fageria (2001), in rice (Oryza sativa L.), where high concentrations of K in SN inhibited the absorption of P, Ca and Mg.

Table 3. Effect of NO3 -/anions and K+/cation ratio in nutrient solution and the concentration of N, P, K, Ca and Mg in leaves of cucumber plants, 38 days after planting. 

Factor N (%) P (%) K (%) Ca (%) Mg (%)
Relación porcentual de NO3 -/aniones
40/100 6.21 a 0.99 a 3.71 a 2.2 b 0.69 b
60/100 6.6 a 0.78 b 3.6 a 2.44 a 0.91 a
80/100 6.24 a 0.61 c 3.74 a 2.39 ab 0.95 a
Relación porcentual de K+/cationes
15/100 6.28 ab 0.82 a 2.43 c 2.89 a 0.95 a
35/100 6.12 b 0.75 a 3.72 b 2.37 b 0.86 b
55/100 6.66 a 0.81 a 4.9 a 1.72 c 0.75 c
NO3 -/aniones X K+/cationes ns ** ** ns **

Table 4. Effect of the interaction NO3 -/anions x K+/cations in nutrient solution in the concentration of P, K and Mg in cucumber seedlings leaves, 38 days after planting. 

Factor NO3 -/aniones x K+/cationes P (%) K (%) Mg (%)
40/100 x 15/100 1.23 a 2.89 de 0.96 ab
60/100 x 15/100 0.65 bc 2.1 f 1.09 a
80/100 x 15/100 0.57 c 2.29 ef 0.81 bc
40/100 x 35/100 0.87 bc 3.14 d 1.05 a
60/100 x 35/100 0.79 bc 3.89 c 0.84 bc
80/100 x 35/100 0.6 bc 4.13 bc 0.7 cd
40/100 x 55/100 0.87 bc 5.1 a 0.84 bc
60/100 x 55/100 0.89 b 4.8 ab 0.81 bc
80/100 x 55/100 0.67 bc 4.79 ab 0.54 d

Table 5. Effect of NO3 -/anions and K+/cation ratio in nutrient solution and the concentration of N, P, K, Ca and Mg in cucumber seedling stems, 38 days after planting. 

Factor N (%) P (%) K (%) Ca (%) Mg (%)
Relación porcentual de NO3 -/aniones
40/100 4.87 b 1 a 6.18 a 1.13 a 0.64 a
60/100 6.13 a 0.81 b 6.17 a 1.21 a 0.6 ab
80/100 5.82 a 0.68 c 6.51 a 1.21 a 0.48 b
Relación porcentual de K+/cationes
15/100 6.11 a 0.92 a 4.48 c 1.52 a 0.65 a
35/100 5.45 b 0.79 b 6.8 b 1.11 b 0.61 a
55/100 5.18 b 0.78 b 7.57 a 0.82 c 0.42 b
NO3 -/aniones X K+/cationes ns ** ns ns ns

Nutritional analysis on leaves

The NO3 -/anions ratio was different (p≤ 0.05) for Ca concentration in leaves (Table 3); the highest concentration of Ca (2.44%) was obtained with the ratio 60/100 NO3 -/anions and the lowest (2.20%) was obtained with 80/100 NO3 -/anions. According Fageria (2001), when a nutrient is in an excessive concentration in the growth medium can affect the absorption of another, so in the present study a ratio of 80% in NO3 - in SN, inhibited Ca absorption. N concentrations in leaves were affected (p≤ 0.05) by K+/cations ratio, the lowest value of N (6.12%) was obtained with 35/100 K+/cations and the highest value (6.66% N) was obtained with 55/100 K+/ cations (Table 3).

Zhang et al. (2010) mention that an optimal application of K is favorable for proper nutrient management in agriculture, in this sense the high dose of K promoted the accumulation of N in leaves. The concentrations of Ca in the leaves were reduced (p≤ 0.05) with increases in K+/ cation ratio in SN (Table 3), by antagonism of K with Ca (Fageria, 2001), which was reflected in increased absorption K and less of Ca. The interaction of the factors was significant for concentrations of P, K and Mg in leaves (Table 3), P concentrations obtained with the three NO3 -/anions ratios were similar for ratios 35 and 55/100 K+/cations, however, for the ratio 15/100 K+/cations had variation (Table 4). The highest concentration of P (1.23%) was obtained with 40/100 NO3 -/ anion and 15/100 K+ anion / cation and the lowest (0.57%) was obtained with 80/100 NO3- / K + 15/100 anion / cation , which can be attributed to the relationship 40/100 NO3-/ anions had a concentration of 1.71 mol m-3 H2PO4 -, compared to 0.5 mol m-3 of H2PO4 - from the ratio 80/100 NO3 -/anions (Table 1). Regarding K, the highest concentrations (5.1, 4.8 and 4.79% of K in leaves) were obtained with the combination of the ratio 55/100 K+/ cations and 40, 60 and 80/100 NO3 -/ anions (Table 4), attributed to higher concentration of K in these solutions, favoring their absorption and accumulation. Mg concentrations in leaves obtained with three ratios NO3 -/anions were different (p≤ 0.01) for all three ratios K+/cations (Table 4), where combinations 80/100 NO3 -/anions with 15, 35 and 55/100 K+/ cations had the lowest concentrations of Mg (0.81, 0.7 and 0.54%, respectively) due to antagonism of K on Mg (Gransee and Führs, 2013), because at greater proportion of K in SN, lower concentration of Mg in leaves.

Nutritional analysis in stems

The interaction of NO3 -/anions x K+/ cation factors was significant for P concentration (Table 5) where P concentrations obtained with the three NO3 -/anions ratio were different (p≤ 0.05) for the ratio 55/100K+/cations (Figure 1), since in this ratio the highest concentration of P (1.25%) was obtained with 40/100 NO3 -/anions, and the lowest (0.44% P) was obtained with 80/100 NO3 -/anions (Table 5), as explained in the concentration of P in leaves. N and Mg concentrations were affected (p≤ 0.05) by the ratio NO3 -/anions, whereas concentrations of N, K, Ca and Mg were different (p≤ 0.05) for the K+/ cations ratio (Table 5).

Figure 1. Effect of the interaction NO3 -/anion x K+/cation in nutrient solution and the concentration of P in stems of cucumber plants cv. Luxell. Points with different letters in a column and in a line are statistically different (p≤ 0.05). 

With the ratio 60/100 NO3 -/ anions the highest concentration of N in stems (6.13%) was obtained, while the lowest (4.87%) was obtained with 40/100 NO3 -/anions; the highest concentration of Mg in stems (0.64%) was obtained with 40/100 NO3 -/anions and the lowest (0.48% Mg) with 80/100 NO3 -/anions. With ratio 15/100 K+/cations the highest concentration of N (6.11%) was obtained in stems, while the lowest (5.18%) was obtained with 55/100 K+/cations. K concentrations in stems had a direct relationship with the K+/cations ratio in SN, since increasing these relationships increased concentrations of K in that organ, whereas the concentrations of Ca and Mg in stems the relationship was inverse, because increasing the ratio K+/cations in SN the concentrations of Ca and Mg decreased by antagonism from K on Ca and Mg (Fageria, 2001) and by the lower concentration of Ca and Mg in SN (Table 1).

Stage 2

Nutritional analysis in leaves

The interaction of the factors was significant (p≤ 0.05) for concentrations of N, P, K and Ca, 78 days after transplanting (ddt) (Table 6). N concentrations obtained with the three ratios NO3 -/ anions were similar statistically (p≤ 0.05) for ratio 15/100 K+/cations, although for ratios 35 and 55/100 K+/cations there were differences (p≤ 0.05). In both ratios K+/cations the highest concentrations of N were obtained with 80/100 NO3 -/anions (Table 7), attributed to these K ratios increased N uptake and its accumulation in leaves by increasing the efficiency in the use of N (EUN). This result is similar to that reported for grasses where K increases to the same level of N increased EUN (IPI, 2014). P concentrations obtained with the three ratios NO3 -/ anions were different (p≤ 0.05) for the three ratios K+/cations.

Table 6. Effect of NO3 -/ anions and K+/cation ratio in nutrient solution and concentration of N, P, K, Ca and Mg in cucumber leaves, 78 ddt. 

Factor N (%) P (%) K (%) Ca (%) Mg (%)
Relación porcentual de NO3 -/aniones
40/100 3.03 b 0.64 a 3.4 a 1.91 b 0.44 c
60/100 3.21 b 0.58 a 3.22 a 4.12 a 0.85 a
80/100 3.91 a 0.38 b 3.37 a 3.92 a 0.67 b
Relación porcentual de K+/cationes
15/100 3.29 a 0.53 a 2.78 b 4.3 a 0.82 a
35/100 3.33 a 0.52 a 2.95 b 3.54 b 0.66 b
55/100 3.45 a 0.59 a 4.3 a 1.82 c 0.46 c
NO3 -/aniones X K+/cationes * ** ** ** ns

Table 7. Effect of the interaction NO3 -/anionn x K+/cation in the nutrient solution in concentration of N, P, K and Ca in cucumber leaves, 78 ddt. 

Factor NO3 -/aniones x K+/cationes N (%) P (%) K (%) Ca (%)
40/100 x 15/100 3.9 b 0.6 b 3.12 bcde 2.44 cd
60/100 x 15/100 3.45 ab 0.89 a 3 cde 4.95 ab
80/100 x 15/100 3.58 ab 0.19 d 2.23 e 5.49 a
40/100 x 35/100 2.73 b 0.39 c 2.73 de 1.93 d
60/100 x 35/100 3.32 ab 0.59 b 2.71 de 4.98 ab
80/100 x 35/100 4.13 a 0.58 b 3.6 bcd 3.53 bc
40/100 x 55/100 3.5 ab 0.87 a 4.19 ab 1.35 d
60/100 x 55/100 2.89 b 0.34 cd 3.97 bc 2.42 cd
80/100 x 55/100 4.26 a 0.48 bc 5.12 a 1.56 d

The highest values of P (0.89 and 0.87%) were obtained with combinations 60/100 and 15/100, and 40/100 NO3 -/anion and 55/100 K+/cation and by increasing to 80/100 NO3 -/anions in both K+/cation ratios the percentages of P (0.19 and 0.48%) were reduced significantly (Table 7), explained by the lower proportion of P in ratio 80/100 NO3 -/anions (Table 1), because in this study ions in SN vary in different proportions, although the concentration remains constant so that the result depends only on the ratio of the components of the mixture (Valdez-Aguilar and Reed, 2010). Therefore, in the ratio 80/100 NO3 -/anions there is a lower concentration of P. K concentrations in leaves, obtained with ratios NO3 -/anions were not different for ratio 15 and 35/100 K+/cations; however, for the ratio 55/100 K+/cations there were differences (p≤ 0.05) (Table 7).

The highest concentration of Ca (5.49%) was obtained with the combination 80/100 NO3 -/anion 15/100 K+/cations, whereas lower concentrations (1.35 and 1.56% Ca) were obtained with 40/100 and 55/100 and 80/100 NO3 -/anions and 55/100 K+/cations, respectively (Table 7) due to K antagonism with Ca (Kavvadias et al., 2012). NO3 -/anions ratio was different (p≤ 0.05) for the concentration of Mg in leaves; the highest concentration of Mg (0.85%) was obtained with the ratio 60/100 NO3-/anions and the lowest (0.44%) was obtained with 40/100 NO3 -/anions (Table 6). Similarly, concentrations of Mg were also affected (p≤ 0.05) by the K+/cation ratio, where the highest concentration of Mg (0.82%) was obtained with 15/100 K+/cations and the lowest (0.46% Mg ) with 55/100 K+/cations (Table 8), due to K antagonism on Mg (Gransee and Führs, 2013) and to the lowest concentration of Mg in SN, since a high proportion of K in SN implies a lower concentration of Mg.

Yield and its components

The interaction of NO3 -/anions x K+/cations factors in SN was significant (p≤ 0.01) for average weight of fruits (PMF), while the factors ratio NO3 -/anion and K+/cations ratios were for fruits per plant (FP) and yield (p≤ 0.01) (Table 8), indicating that the interaction N/K did not affect these two variables. Accordingly there is no basis that justify what is done commercially using different ratios N/K during the growing season of cucumber, since the answer is given as main effects and not as interaction between the factors under study.


Growth of cucumber seedlings and yield were not affected by the interaction NO3 -/anion x K+/cations, although the nutrient concentrations in leaves and stems from seedlings and plants showed differential responses to combinations NO3 -/ anions x K+/cations. In cucumber production, in a closed hydroponic system and coconut fiber as substrate, the NO3-/anions ratio should not be greater than 60/100, whereas K+/cation ratio should not exceed 35/100; at higher ratio NO3 -/anions (80/100) and K+/ cations (55/100) cucumber yield reduced 9.98% and 31.84% respectively due to alterations in the concentrations of N, P, K, Ca and Mg in leaves.

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Received: January 2016; Accepted: April 2016

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