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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

QUINOA

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).

Quinoa seedlingsSpring weed growth between rows of quinoaRows of quinoa mixed with lamb’s-quartersQuinoa seed head prior to maturityThe variety of seed head colours exhibited by cultivar ‘Brightest Brilliant’Field plots of cultivars ‘Brightest Brilliant’ and ‘Temuco’ prior to harvestQuinoa seed head just prior to harvestHarvested quinoa seed prior to cleaningCleaned quinoa grain (Photo credit: Pefkos, www.shutterstock.com)
AgronomicsProduction Life Cycle in Ontario

Annual

Hardiness Zone

N/A

Special Notes

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.

Propagation method

Direct seed to a depth of 1.5-2.5 cm.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

N/A

Field Seeding Date:

Mid May

Field Transplanting Dates

N/A

In-row spacing

Seeding rate 325,000 seeds/ha.

Between row spacing

36-76 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

5-10 °C

Fertility

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.

Soil type

Sandy and loam soils.  Soils prone to crusting may drastically reduce germination

Soil pH

4.8-8.5

Special requirements for growth habit

None

Optimal Temperature Range

Prefers a temperate to semi-arid climate.

Temperature sensitivity

Heat sensitive.  Temperatures above 35oC may cause plant dormancy or pollen sterility.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation usually not required under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

90-120 days depending on cultivar.

Specialized equipment:

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.

Harvest
Harvest Scheduling

Single Harvest

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest

Quality parameters/grades

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.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

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).

Storage Conditions

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

Pests
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:

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.)

Other:
Birds

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 

Comments

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.

Tarnished plant bug adultPupa of unidentified boring insects found in quinoa stemsPhoma stalk rot on quinoaLeaf spot on quinoa
Additional Notes

None

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Elford, E.M.A., Todd, J., Draves, J., and N. Betts. 2011. Sand Plains Super Foods 4 Health. Sand Plains Community Development Fund, unpublished.
References
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.