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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Rainbow Swiss chard, Calico mixed Swiss chard

Latin Name: Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla

Plant Family: Amaranthaceae

Close Relatives: Amaranth, spinach, beet

Uses and Markets: Culinary (e.g. leaves used in salads, stir-fries, sautéed or in casseroles)

Rainbow Swiss chard
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes


Propagation method

Direct seed (12 kg/ha).

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Early spring to early autumn.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

10-20 cm

Between row spacing

30 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



Ontario recommendations for nitrogen are 110 kg/ha on mineral soils and 55 kg/ha on muck soils. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Sandy loams, muck.

Soil pH

6.0-7.5 (mineral soils), 5.1-5.5 (muck soils).

Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Frost tolerant.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

50-70 days

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest (if whole plant is harvested), multiple harvests from the same planting possible (if only some leaves are harvested); successive plantings; multi-cropping possible.  See glossary for details.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest (e.g. by cutting individual stalks using outside ones first).

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes


Post harvest
Special handling/curing

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

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 95-100%

Temperature: 0°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 10-14 days

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

Insects and Invertebrates: Aphids, leafminer, cabbage looper, beet webworm, snails

Diseases: Damping off, root rots, downy mildew, Cercospora leaf spot, cucumber mosaic virus

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, thrips

Diseases: Fusarium wilt, Phoma leaf spot

Other: none

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


All pests of conventional Swiss chard are likely to attack specialty varieties.    IMPORTANT NOTE:  Pest control products registered on spinach are not necessarily also registered for use on Swiss chard.   This crop is in Crop Group 4: Leafy Vegetables (Except Brassica Vegetables) Group and subgroup 4B: Leaf Petioles 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 OMAF and MRA 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.  Howard, R.J., Garland, J.A., and W.L. Seaman (eds.). 1994.  Diseases and pests of vegetable crops in Canada: an illustrated compendium.  Canadian Phytopathological Society and the Entomological Society of Canada.
  2. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 2010. Vegetable production recommendations. Publication 363, Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto.
  3. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 2012. Vegetable crop protection guide. Publication 838, Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto.
  4. Munro, D.B., and E. Small. 1997. Vegetables of Canada. NRC Research Press, Ottawa.