Skip to content.

Some features of this website require Javascript to be enabled for best usibility. Please enable Javascript to run.


Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Belgian endive, Dutch chicory, French endive and white endive

Latin Name: Cichoriumintybus

Plant Family: Asteraceae

Close Relatives: Curly endive (Cichoriumendivia)

Uses and Markets: Culinary

Witloof chicory in the field (photo credit: S. Westerveld, University of Guelph)Witloof chicory roots before forcing indoors (photo credit: C. Bakker, University of Guelph)Forcing of witloof chicory in the dark (photo credit: C. Bakker, University of Guelph)Witloof chicory chicons (photo credit: C. Bakker, University of Guelph)
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes


Propagation method


Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Roots are transplanted from the field to the greenhouse from September to November.

Field Seeding Date:

Early April to late May, 2-3 weeks before average last frost.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

20-30 cm

Between row spacing

40 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. Research from Belgium indicates chicory root production requires (/ha): 150-180 kg N, 60-80 kg P and 240-300 kg K.  Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained fertile loams and muck soils.

Soil pH

Acidic soils

Special requirements for growth habit

Raised beds improve quality of roots for forcing.

Optimal Temperature Range

Field production - 7°C (night) - 21°C (day).  Forcing – 10°C to 15.5°C.

Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive (young tissues only), frost tolerant (mature plants).

Irrigation requirements

A frequent and uniform supply (up to 5.6cm) of surface applied water is essential for a high quality crop.

Days to harvest

Roots can be harvested after 130-150 days; forced crops can be harvested 20-30 days after forcing commences.

Specialized equipment

Bar blade, potato or carrot harvesting equipment.

Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest (roots), hand harvest forced tops (chicons).

Quality parameters/grades

Chicons must have a well-formed shape, with tip well-closed and sharp,, be firm and range from white to yellowish white.

Additional Harvest Notes

A digger is used to undercut the roots and loosen the soil.  Roots are left in the field and left to cure for 3-4 days without being exposed to light.  Tops are then removed and the roots are harvested, cut to a length of 2.5-4 cm and replanted tightly into 6 cm deep bins containing soil.  Forcing is done in the absence of light at 10°C to 15.5°C and a relative humidity of 90%.  Chicons are removed from roots by cutting or snapping, 20-30 days after forcing began.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Handle with care to avoid bruising, cuts and abrasions.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 90-100%

Temperature: 0-2°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 2-4 weeks

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

Insects and Invertebrates: White grubs, millipedes, snails/slugs

Diseases: White mould (Sclerotiniasclerotiorum), leaf blights (Botrytis, Cercospora, Alternaria, Septoria), post harvest fungal rots, aster yellows


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: Dipteran miners (post harvest – Napomyzacichorii), aphids

Diseases: Bacterial rots (post harvest)

Other: Internal browning (during forcing)

*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: grubs, white mould. This crop is not in a crop group.  Some pest control products are registered on this crop – consult an OMAFRA specialist for more information.  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.

Lesion of Alternaria blight on witloof chicory (photo credit: S. Westerveld, University of Guelph)Cercospora leaf spot on witloof chicory (photo credit: S. Westerveld, University of Guelph)Witloof chicory plant affected by aster yellows (photo credit: S. Westerveld, University of Guelph)White grub and damage on witloof chicory root (photo credit: S. Westerveld, University of Guelph)
Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. McDonald, M.R., Westerveld, S., Bakker, C. and K. Vander Kooi.  2007.  Evaluation of fungicides and foliar fertilizers on Belgian endive root yield, petiole discoloration and Sclerotinia rot severity.  Vegetable and Non-traditional Crops Research Report.  Simcoe Research Station.  University of Guelph.
  1. OregonStateUniversity. 2002. Commercial Vegetable Production Guides
  2. Steve Albert. 2009. How to Grow Chicory, Belgian Endive, and Radicchio.  Harvest to Table. A practical guide to food in the garden and market.