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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Fuzzy Melon

Other Common Names Include:

Bi chanh, Chiang shin, Fuzzy Squash, Hairy Cucumber, Hairy Gourd, Hairy Melon, Ho bak, Jie gua, Mao gua, Mao qua, Small Winter Melon, Tohgan, Tsit gua.

Latin Name: Benincasa hispida var. chieh-gua

Plant Family: Cucurbitaceae

Close Relatives: Cucumber, gourd and squash

Uses and Markets: Culinary (used in Andean highland, Caribbean, Chinese, east African, Indian, Mexican, South American and Southeast Asian cuisine).  The immature fruits have a composition similar to summer squash, but have a stronger, more distinctive flavour.  They are prepared and eaten in a similar fashion to summer squash or zucchini. 

Fuzzy melon plant Fuzzy melon flower Fruit of three different varieties of fuzzy melon
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Some cucurbit crops respond well to season extension techniques including plastic mulch.  For more information, refer to the General Agronomics section.  This crop can also be grown in a greenhouse or high tunnel.

Propagation method

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

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Late April or early May.

Field Seeding Date:

After last frost.

Field Transplanting Dates

After last frost, 3-5 weeks after greenhouse seeding.

In-row spacing

50-60 cm

Between row spacing

1.2 m or more

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

Delay planting until the soil temperature is 15°C or higher.  The optimum soil temperature range at planting is 25°C-35°C.


Apply up to 110 kg/ha N. Broadcast 65 kg/ha N and all the phosphate and potash required prior to planting. Sidedress the remainder of the nitrogen before the vines start to run. On sandy soils, a second application may be necessary after the vines begin to run. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit

Cucurbit crops may benefit from staking or trellising to reduce fruit damage on the ground, keep fruit clean and increase harvest ease.

Optimal Temperature Range

Prefers a temperate, warm climate.

Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation is beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

90 days to first harvest depending on cultivar.

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Multiple harvests from the same planting.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Begin picking fruits when still covered in silky hairs.  Use harvest guidelines for cucumber as a guide.  For more information, refer to the cucurbits section of the OMAFRA Crops website.  If possible, 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

Gentle handling is required to avoid fruit injury.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 85-90%

Temperature: 10-13°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 7-14 days.

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

Insects and Invertebrates: Cucumber beetles, aphids (e.g. Aphis gossypii)

Diseases: Powdery mildew, alternaria blight

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: Spider mites, leafhoppers, squash bugs

Diseases: Downy mildew, bacterial wilt, angular leaf spot, scab, anthracnose, gummy stem blight, fusarium wilt, phytophthora blight, cucumber mosaic virus

*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: cucumber beetle, aphids, powdery mildew.  This crop may be susceptible to many of the same pests as cucumber and squash.  Downy mildew is a serious disease of cucurbit crops.  Cucumbers are the most susceptible to infection, however melons and other cucurbit crops can be affected by certain pathotypes of this disease.  Downy mildew is wind borne and highly infectious. In susceptible cucurbits, it can destroy on unprotected crop in less than 1 week.   

This crop is in Crop Group 9: Cucurbit Vegetable Group and Subgroup 9B: Squash/Cucumber Subgroup. 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 more information on pests of cucurbits in Ontario, refer to OMAFRA’s Ontario CropIPM tool or vegetable production and protection publications. For pest control products registered on cucurbits refer to OMAFRA Publication 838. It is important to note that not all pest control products registered on cucumber are registered on fuzzy melon. 

Cucumber beetle Melon aphid, Aphis gossypii Powdery mildew on cucurbitAlternaria on cucurbit
Additional Notes
  • Check for pollinator activity at early bloom.  Introduce honeybees if necessary. In cold climates fruit set may be a problem and hand pollination should be considered.
  • Bottle gourd (Lagenaria sicerari var. Clavata) is sometimes referred to as Fuzzy Melon in Chinese, however it is not the same species of plant as this one. 
  • Some varieties of Fuzzy Melon are grown for fully mature fruits known as Winter Gourd.  Refer to Winter Gourd profile for more information.
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.
  2. Elford, E., Filotas, M., Todd, J., Westerveld, S., Bilal, A., and M. Brownbridge. 2010. World crops variety trials and demonstration. Vineland Research and Innovation Centre/OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  3. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAF and MRA Herb Demonstration Garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  2010.  Publication 363 Vegetable Production Recommendations 2010-2011.  Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto.
  2. Munro, D. B., and E. Small.  1997.  Vegetables of Canada.  NRC Research Press, Ottawa.
  3. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  1998.  Publication 3346 Specialty and Minor Crops Handbook, Second Edition.  University of California, Oakland.