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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

chinese cabbage

Other Common Names Include:

Napa, Nappa, Bow Sum, Celery Cabbage, Won Bok, Hakusai, Pai Tsai

Latin Name: Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis

Plant Family: Brassicaceae

Close Relatives: Mustards

Uses and Markets: Culinary (A heading type cabbage used in Asian cuisine e.g. salads, boiled, stir fried). 

Field production of Chinese cabbage Shutterstock 40989709 (Photo credit: LIN, CHUN-TSO, Chinese cabbage trimmed for retail sale Shutterstock 104501057 (Photo credit: Aleph Studio,
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Brassica crops are cool-season vegetables. They perform best at moderate temperatures and can withstand mild frosts.  Low temperatures early in the growing season may cause premature seedstalk development (bolting).  Extreme changes in temperature, poor soil conditions or low nutrient levels also induce bolting.  Older cultivars of Chinese cabbage are sensitive to daylength and may bolt if exposed to long-day photoperiods.

Propagation method

Most commonly by transplants from seeds, less commonly by direct seeding.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Late April to early May7

Field Seeding Date:

May -June

Field Transplanting Dates

3-4 weeks after seeding, typically June.

In-row spacing

25-30 cm

Between row spacing

45-60 cm

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. Ontario fertility recommendations for cabbage suggests 130 kg N/ha preplant and an additional 40 kg N/ha side-dress on mineral soils and would be a starting point for determining nitrogen requirements when growing Chinese Cabbage.  Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

All soil types with good drainage, growing best in muck soils.

Soil pH

5.5-7.5, lower pH may cause the prevalence of clubroot to increase.

Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Frost Tolerant

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation required under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

55-95 days after direct seeding

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Multiple harvests from the same planting; Successive plantings.  Multi-cropping possible.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Harvest firm heads by cutting plant at soil level before outer leaves begin to lose their colour.  Harvest during cooler parts of the day to reduce moisture loss and cooling costs. Remove field heat as soon as possible after harvest.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing


Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 95-100 % - do not store Chinese Cabbage with produce that releases ethylene gas. 

Temperature:  0°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 2-3 months

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

Insects and Invertebrates: Cabbage maggot (Delia radicum), flea beetles, swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii), diamondback moth larvae (Plutella xylostella), imported cabbage worm (Artogeia rapae), cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni), tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris), cutworms, aphids, seedcorn maggot (Delia platura)

Diseases: Club root (Plasmidiophora brassicae), downy mildew (Peronospora parasitica), Alternaria leaf spot, Pseudocercosporella leaf spot (Pseudocercosporella capsellae), turnip mosaic virus (TuMV), baceterial soft rots (Erwinia cartovera, Pseudomonas spp.)

Other: Tipburn

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: Earwigs, slugs, aphids, thrips

Diseases: Bacterial leaf spot (Pseudomonas syringae), black rot (Xanthomonas campestris), damping off (Pythium, Rhizoctonia spp.), Fusarium wilt (cabbage yellows)

Other: none

*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:  flea beetles, swede midge, club root, downy mildew. Flea beetles tend to prefer specialty crops (e.g. Chinese cabbage, bok choy, daikon) over traditional brassica crops.  Club root damage will be less when grown during cooler times of the year (e.g. April and Aug/Sept. plantings).   Chinese cabbage is not as susceptible to swede midge as some of the other Brassica vegetables. Many specialty Brassica crops are included in Crop Group 5:  Brassica (Cole) Leafy Vegetables.   A complete list of all crops included in Crop Group 5 can be found on Health Canada’s website .  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 Brassicas, refer to OMAFRA Publication 838, Vegetable Crop Protection Guide.  For more information on pests of Brassica crops, refer to the Brassica module of Ontario CropIPM on the OMAFRA website.

Downy mildew on specialty brassicaFlea beetle and damage on specialty brassicaDiamond back moth on specialty brassicaImported cabbageworm and damage on specialty brassicaAlternaria on specialty brassicaSpecialty brassica showing symptoms of severe clubroot on the roots (Photo credit: Thomas Gludovacz, University of Guelph) Swede midge larvae on brassica plantSwede midge damage to broccoliCabbage maggot on brassicaCabbage looper larvae
Additional Notes

Seeds can be hot water treated to remove disease before planting. This procedure is common when previous diseases such as Alternaria, black rot and white leaf spot have been found in the field. Heat the seeds in water at 52°C for 25-30 minutes, cool, let dry and plant immediately.  

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Loughton, A. et al.  1986.  Vegetable Cultivar Trials 1986.  Horticultural Experiment Station Simcoe, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, unpublished.
  2. McDonald, M. R., Janse, S., and K. Vander Kooi.  2007.  Muck Vegetable Cultivar Trial & Research Report 2007.  Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, unpublished.
  3. McDonald, M. R., Janse, S., and K. Vander Kooi.  2009.  Muck Vegetable Cultivar Trial & Research Report 2009.  Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, unpublished.
  4. McDonald, M. R., Janse, S., Riches, L., Tesfaendrais, M., and K. Vander Kooi.  2010.  Muck Vegetable Cultivar Trial & Research Report 2010.  Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, unpublished.
  1. Adhikari, Kalpana, M.R. McDonald, and B.D. Gossen. 2012. Reaction to Plasmidiophora brassicae Pathotype 6 in Lines of Brassica Vegetables, Wisconsin Fast Plants, and Canola. HortScience. 47(3):374-377.
  2. Allen, J., Fraser, H. and R. Hallett.  2008.  The Swede Midge – A Pest of Crucifer Crops.  Factsheet 08-007, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Queen’s Printer for Ontario.    
  3. Burt, J., Phillips, D.,  and D. Gatter. 2006. Growing Chinese Cabbage in Western Australia – Bulletin No 4673.  Department of Agriculture and Food. 
  4. Chaput, J. and R. Cerkauskas.  2000.  Insects, Diseases and Disorders of Asian Vegetables.  Factsheet 00-095,Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 
  5. Kader, A. A. 1993.  Postharvest Handling, p. 353-377. In: Preece, J.E. and Read, P.E., The Biology of Horticulture- An Introductory Textbook. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
  6. Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives.  2012. Production Information on Vegetable Crops (Chinese Cabbage). 
  7. McKay, A., and D. Phillips. 1990. Chinese Cabbage Bulletin No 4197. Department of Agriculture, Western Australia.
  8. Munro, D.B. and E. Small. 1997. Vegetables of Canada. NRC Research Press, Ottawa.
  9. Nissley, C.H. 1934. Chinese Cabbage New Jersey Extension Bulletin No 136. Rutgers University, Cooperative Extension Service.
  10. Ontario Agricultural College.  1953. Chinese Cabbage.  Ontario Department of Agriculture, Toronto.
  11. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  2011.  Chinese Cabbage Production in Southern Ontario
  12. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  2010.  Publication 363 Vegetable Production Recommendations 2010-2011.  Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto.
  13. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  1998.  Publication 3346 Specialty and Minor Crops Handbook, Second Edition.  University of California, Oakland.