One of the most important things to consider when choosing cucumber seeds is the specific variety of the plant. This is because some cucumbers are better for pickling, while others are ideal for eating raw, or in salads. You may want to find out if the seeds are resistant to some of the more common diseases that plague this crop. It can also be a good idea to learn how and when the seeds were harvested, because the technique used in doing so can affect the hardiness and yield of the plant's fruit.
If you are planting cucumber seeds so you can enjoy fresh produce, some good varieties to consider might be "Dasher II," "Raider," or "Straight Eight." These varieties typically have a smooth skin and are mildly sweet. Some good varieties to choose for pickling might be "Pickle Bush" or "Saladin." Many people find cucumbers to be very harsh on their stomach, so if this is the case a burpless variety might be best. A few examples of burpless cucumbers include "Orient Express" and "Sweet Slice," and these varieties could be either eaten fresh or canned.
A number of diseases, such as "Downy Mildew" and "Cucumber Mosaic Spot" can often adversely affect cucumber seedlings. You may want to contact local gardening clubs or shops to find out what cucumber diseases are common in your area. That way, you can choose cucumber seeds that have some resistance to those viruses; additionally, this information can usually be found on the seed package. If there is a college or university in your area with an agriculture department, someone at the school may also be able to give helpful advice.
When harvesting cucumber seeds, it is important to let them soak in water for a few days and then rinse and drain them. Soaking the seeds helps to kill any bacteria that might be present in the seed. Rinsing them can remove any residue left on the seed, while draining prevents the specimens from rotting. If you are purchasing seeds from an individual, you may want to ask about the harvesting process, but if you are buying them from a nursery, you may need to contact the manufacturer to obtain this information.
Cucumber seeds should generally be stored in a cool and dark place and then planted within a year of harvesting. This means it is also important to find out when the seeds were extracted and how they were stored after doing so. There may be a date on some seed packets, but if this is not available, there could be a lot number, which could help in determining this information instead.