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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Methi, Greek hay, Alholva, Chinagreye, Halva, Helba, Kelabat, Koroha, Shimli and Sicklefruit.

Latin Name: Trigonella foenum-graecum

Plant Family: Fabaceae

Close Relatives: Beans, peas, peanut, licorice

Uses and Markets: Culinary (e.g. Seeds are used in curries and chutneys or sprouted raw; Leaves, often dried, are used in small quantities for flavouring either raw or cooked); essential oils (e.g. confectionary flavouring of maple and vanilla); medicinal (e.g. livestock disorders; digestive disorders, fever). Traditionally used in India and south Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region, but markets are expanding. Fenugreek is also used as a high protein forage crop.

Fenugreek for fresh herb production Fenugreek seed pods appears as long slender spikes.
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Pre-soak seeds for 12 hours prior to sowing. Fenugreek can be grown as an herb or as a seed spice. Cultural requirements will be different depending on the plant part harvested. For optimal seed production, low humidity is required.

Propagation method


Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Mid-late spring.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

5-30 cm (wider spacing for seed production). For bunching/herb, often grown in single rows or bands 5-10 cm wide with narrow plant spacing between plants (5 cm) and wider spacing between rows (30-50 cm). Narrow spacing promotes fewer branches.

Between row spacing

10-50 cm (wider for herb production).

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. Research from India and Turkey suggests an optimal nitrogen application rate of 90 kg/ha for seed production. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well drained loamy soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range

18-27°C (poor growth at low temperatures).

Temperature sensitivity

Frost tolerant (vegetative stage only).

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation is beneficial under normal Ontario conditions (herb production).

Days to harvest

30-40 days (herb), earlier harvest may be required in the heat of the summer to avoid flowering; 105-140 days (seeds).

Specialized equipment:



Fresh herb is often sold in bunches of whole plants.

Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest, multi-cropping possible (herb); single harvest (seeds).

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest (herb); machine harvest (combine for seeds).

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Harvest during cooler parts of the day to reduce moisture loss and cooling costs. Remove field heat as soon as possible after harvest (herb).

Post harvest
Special handling/curing


Storage Conditions

Seeds should be below 12% moisture and stored under dry and cool conditions to avoid spoilage. Fenugreek leaves are often dried. The conditions below apply to the fresh herb.

Relative humidity (RH): 95-100% (herb)

Temperature: 0°C (herb)

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 10-14 days (herb)

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Leafhoppers and tarnished plant bug

Diseases: Alternaria leaf spot, unknown root rot

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: Wireworm, cutworm, aphids, and blister beetle.

Diseases: Damping-off, root rot diseases, and cercospora leaf spot.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: Alternaria leaf spot, leafhoppers, root rot. Disease pressures can be reduced through proper site selection and by promoting good air movement through the canopy. To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: Alternaria leaf spot, leafhoppers, root rot. This crop is in Crop Group 19: Herbs and Spices Group and subgroup 19B: Spice Subgroup, if it is harvested for its seeds. This crop group is being revised and may change in the near future. 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.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist. For pest control products registered on this crop refer to OMAFRA Publication 838.

Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Elford, E., Filotas, M., Todd, J., and S. Westerveld. 2009. Non-traditional crops demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Bown, D. 1995. Encyclopedia of herbs and their uses. Dorling Kindersley, London, UK.
  2. Jagdale, Y.L. and P.D. Dalve. 2011.  Effect of nitrogen and phosphorous levels on seed yield and quality of fenugreek. Asian Journal of Horticulture 6: 81-84.
  3. Slinkard, A.E., McVicar, R. Brenzil, C., Pearse, P., Panchuk, K. and S. Hartley. 2009. Fenugreek in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture.
  4. Small, E. 2006. Culinary herbs, 2nd Edition. NRC Research Press, Ottawa.
  5. Tuncturk, R., Celen A.E. and M. Tuncturk. 2011. The effects of nitrogen and sulphur fertilizers on the yield and quality of fenugreek. Turkish Journal of Field Crops 16: 69-75.