Legal Blog

Saturday Side Hustle: Plant Variety in Cucumbers



Good morning, afternoon or evening, and I hope your weekend is bringing you the well-deserved break you all need. I was derailed a bit this week in my market research but did spend some time with certain regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As some of you may know I am involved in protecting intellectual property around new plant varieties, and as I was preparing a communication on the new Plant Variety Protection (PVP) regulations published last week, I couldn’t help but dig into information published by the USDA on cucumbers, as I’ll need to understand some of that anyway.

I was sucked into the world of grades and standards. For those of you who don’t care, or maybe just don’t like pickles or cucumbers, feel free to move on to something else. Here are the grades:

U.S. Fancy: These cucumbers are fresh, firm, well colored, not overgrown, not injured, decayed or diseased, at least six inches long and no fatter than 2.375 inches. I guess that does sound fancy.

U.S. Extra No. 1: Half the lot is Fancy; half the lot is No. 1 (see below).

U.S. No. 1: These are about the same as the Fancy cucumbers, except they are only fairly well colored and formed, and have the same size requirements as the Fancy cucumbers “unless otherwise specified”. I’ll have to see what that means later.

U.S. No. 1 Small: You guessed it: These are No. 1, but smaller. The diameter can be 1.5 – 2 inches, but they can be as long as you’d like!

U.S. No. 1 Large: These are No. 1 cucumbers, but larger. They have to be at least six inches long “unless otherwise specified”, which again, I’ll have to investigate (maybe). By the way, they can be as long and fat as you’d like! I guess this might be what you want if you really like just eating cucumbers. You could probably turn one into a meal.

U.S. No. 2: As you may have guessed, this is a step-down. They only have to be “moderately colored”, which I guess means they can be a little brownish or yellowish. They can be deformed, just not badly (those of you who garden will likely have an opinion of what this means). They still can’t be injured, decayed or diseased, which I suppose is a good thing.

The USDA provides official and unofficial visual aids to help you determine what grade of cucumbers you have on your farm or in your garden. That’s nice. Here’s a link to the unofficial version.

If you look at this guide, you’ll realize I left a lot of detail out of my summary of the grades above. It’s not only about the outside, but also the inside of the cucumbers. Have you ever sliced open a cucumber to find a cavity in the middle? I have, and apparently that happens with what we call “detracting” cucumbers. My next question: Which cucumbers are best used for pickles?


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ABOUT SCOTT LLOYD | 301.575.0357

Scott Lloyd is a registered patent attorney who specializes in intellectual property counseling and commercialization work. He has served as a technology commercialization specialist and advisor to companies in a diverse array of markets, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and beverage, specialty chemicals, technology, and engineering. In addition, Mr. Lloyd spent ten years as in-house general counsel to small and mid-sized companies, where he managed corporate matters and resolved commercial disputes in addition to intellectual property strategy, and now serves in the same capacity for entrepreneurial clients. He serves as counsel to small and mid-sized business owners seeking to implement growth strategies and succession plans.

While in house, Mr. Lloyd has also contributed to the successful formation of international affiliates of domestic businesses as well as a $400,000,000 business acquisition.






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