Producing Quinoa in Ontario (Phosphorous Trial 2013-2014)

Funding: Ontario Centres of Excellence VIP1

The past two years of agronomic trials on quinoa production have provided favourable results as an Ontario commercial crop. In addition to the negative impact of weed pressure on yield, findings from this preliminary research indicates that planting density and soil fertility could have a significant impact on quinoa yield. A recent NSERC Engage grant provided the medium to explore different planting densities for growing quinoa. This current on-going trial showed signs of nutrient deficiency.  Quinoa is considered to be a low-input crop; however, studies indicate that it is strongly responsive to soil inputs. Soil profiles suggest a production impact from varying phosphorus soil concentrations and that deficient levels of phosphorous can significantly affect quinoa growth.

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plants and is required for maximum growth and reproduction. Phosphorous has a fundamental function in most plant processes that includes energy transfer and photosynthesis, new cell development and seed formation. Plants that are phosphorous deficient can have reduced seed number, size and viability, decreased leaf expansion, leaf surface area and leaf number. Shoot growth can also be reduced with inadequate phosphorus supply and a purple colour can develop in certain species.

The response of quinoa to phosphorus has not been examined. However, studies have shown that a close relative to quinoa, the common lambsquarters, responds to phosphorus fertilization. Determining if quinoa responds to the essential nutrient, phosphorus, in a similar manner as its close relative, lambsquarters, is a step towards optimizing plant growth and quinoa see production in Ontario.


This Ontario Centres of Excellence trial with Dr. Massimo Marcone will provide a pre-commercial beta test to demonstrate target phosphorus levels to increase quinoa production levels in Ontario. The outputs are incremental to our previous and current knowledge of quinoa production in Ontario that we have accumulated over the past 3 years.  Achieving higher yields will allow local production to be competitive in COGS and price with global competitors (Bolivia, Peru, etc.) and to be competitive with other

Ontario crops, allowing a greater expansion of production in Ontario.