Other Common Names Include: Kinwa, Quiuna, Parka, Dawe, Chuppah
Latin Name: Chenopodium quinoa
Plant Family: Chenopodiaceae
Close Relatives: Lamb’s-quarters
Uses and Markets: Culinary (typically used as a cooked whole grain, traditionally in South American cuisine; less commonly used as a milled grain for flour).
Production Life Cycle in Ontario
Bulk seed availability of commonly grown cultivars is limited. Quinoa is closely related to the common weed species Lamb’s-quarters. During vegetative stages the two species look very similar. Early season weed management is required.
Direct seed to a depth of 1.5-2.5 cm.
Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates
Field Seeding Date:
Field Transplanting Dates
Seeding rate 325,000 seeds/ha.
Between row spacing
Optimal Soil temperature at planting
No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. Experience from other jurisdictions suggests a range of 100-120 kg N/ha is sufficient for plant growth and optimal yield. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.
Sandy and loam soils. Soils prone to crusting may drastically reduce germination
Special requirements for growth habit
Optimal Temperature Range
Prefers a temperate to semi-arid climate.
Heat sensitive. Temperatures above 35oC may cause plant dormancy or pollen sterility.
Irrigation usually not required under normal Ontario conditions.
Days to harvest
90-120 days depending on cultivar.
Quinoa can be harvested using a combine with a standard header or sorghum header. Seed is disc shaped and is approximately 1.5-2 mm in diameter so appropriate sized screens/concaves are required.
Hand harvest or machine harvest
No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.
Additional Harvest Notes
High humidity or fall rains may cause moulding or sprouting on seed heads. Quinoa can tolerate light frosts. Plants dry quickly and grain yield can be lost. Yields in Ontario field trials range from 134-240 kg/ha.
Seed should be dried prior to storage. Quinoa requires further processing after harvest to remove the saponin coating (a soapy like compound produced on the surface of the seed).
Limited post harvest storage research has been conducted on quinoa. Oil and protein contents of quinoa seed are similar to that of sunflower seed, therefore sunflower storage conditions can serve as a general guide for quinoa.
Relative humidity (RH): < 70%
Temperature: Summer storage: within 9 to 12C of outside temperature, winter storage: from -3 to 4C.
Air Exchange: N/A
Duration: > 6 months
Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)
Insects and Invertebrates: Tarnished plant bug, stem borer (unknown species)
Diseases:Stalk rot (Phoma spp.), fungal leaf spots
Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).
Insects and Invertebrates: Flea beetles, aphids (including sugarbeet root aphid, Pemphigus populivenae), leafhoppers, beet armyworm
Diseases: Damping off, downy mildew (Peronospora farinose), leaf spot (Ascochyta hyalospora) , grey mold (Botrytis cinerea), bacterial blight (Pseudomonas spp.)
*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.
To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: tarnished plant bug, Phoma stalk rot. Large numbers of tarnished plant bugs have been observed feeding on quinoa every year that field trials have been conducted in Ontario, however the impact of damage on yield is not known. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section. Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product. There are few to no pest control products registered on this crop in Ontario. For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.
- Elford, E.M.A., Todd, J., Draves, J., and N. Betts. 2011. Sand Plains Super Foods 4 Health. Sand Plains Community Development Fund, unpublished.
- Bhardwaj, H.L., Hankins, A., Mebrahtu, T., Mullins, J., Rangappa, M., Abaye, O., and G.E. Welbaum. 1996. Alternative Crops Research in Virginia. p. 87-96. In: J. Janick (ed.), Progress in new crops. ASHS Press, Alexandria.
- Nicholls, F.H. 1996. New crops in the UK: From concept to bottom line profits. p. 21-26. In: J. Janick (ed.), Progress in New Crops. ASHS Press, Alexandria.
Oelke, E.A., Putnam, D.H., Teynor, T.M., and E.S. Oplinger. 1990. Quinoa. In: Alternative Field Crops Manual. University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension. Madison.