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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Deccan hemp, Bimli, Ambari Hemp

Latin Name : Hibiscus cannabinus

Plant Family : Malvaceae

Close Relatives : Cotton, okra, hollyhocks

Uses and Markets : Industrial (fibre, textiles, biocomposites, paper, fuel)

Young kenaf seedlingsA stand of kenaf in Ontario
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Kenaf requires temperatures above 10°C, high solar radiation and a long growing season for maximum yields.  It is quite sensitive to cool temperatures.

Propagation method


Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Late-spring after danger of killing frost has passed.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

16 cm (250,000 plants/ha)

Between row spacing

25 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

I>11°C at soil surface


No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. Research from Oklahoma indicated that, when grown on loamy soil, kenaf is relatively unresponsive to N application of 168 kg/ha and above 168 kg/ha, there was a potential risk of decreasing stalk yield. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well drained soils, avoid extremely heavy or light soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit

Small seeded crops require good seed to soil contact and finely prepared seedbeds.

Optimal Temperature Range

15-27°C with a mean daily temperature >20°C.

Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive

Irrigation requirements

Kenaf requires 7.5 to 12.5 cm of water per month during the first 100 days for maximum yields.

Days to harvest

Harvest after first killing frost when leaves have fallen.

Specialized equipment



Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest.  Canes are cut, windrowed and allowed to dry for ~10 days.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest. Standard field-crop equipment including sickle mowers, haybines, round balers and combines.

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes


Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Various methods of retting can be used to separate the bast fibres from the core or other plant tissues. 

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): Store in a cool/dry environment.

Temperature (°C): Any temperature (fibre)

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: Indefinite (fibre)

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

Insects and Invertebrates: Japanese beetles

Diseases: Anthracnose (Colletotrichum hibisci), Botrytis cinerea

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: Aphids, various caterpillars (e.g. Helicoverpa zea) leafminers, cutworms

Diseases: Root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp)*, powdery mildew, fungal leaf spots

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


Kenaf has a high tolerance to chewing and sucking insects once it is past the young seedling stage. To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario:  Japanese beetles.  This crop is not in a crop group.  For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  There are few to no pest control products registered on this crop in Ontario.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Japanese beetles on kenaf leavesEarly stage unknown stem rot on kenafAdvanced stage unknown stem rot on kenafUnknown leaf disease on kenaf leaves at the Simcoe Research Station, 2011
Additional Notes

Yields up to 10 dry tonnes/ha were recorded with variety trials done at the University of Guelph.

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Van Acker, R., R. Grohs, R. Riddle and J. Todd.  2011-2012.  Kenaf variety trials conducted at the University of Guelph Simcoe research station (unpublished data)


  1. LeMahieu, P.J., E.S. Oplinger and D.H. Putnam.1991.  Kenaf.
  2. Taylor, C.S. 1995. Kenaf.  New Crop FactSHEET, Perdue University. .
  3. Webber, C.L.  1996.  Response of kenaf to nitrogen fertilization.  P. 404-408.  In: Progress in New Crops.  J.Janick (ed), ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
  4. Webber III, C.L., H.L. Bhardwaj, and V.K.. Bledsoe. 2002. Kenaf Production: Fiber, Feed, and Seed.  In: Trends in new crops and new uses. J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.). ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA
  5. Webber III, C.L. and V.K. Bledsoe. 2002.  Kenaf Yield Components and Plant Composition.  Trends in new crops and new uses. J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.). ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.