Versatile Pak Choi Rapidly Growing in Popularity

ISU Extension and Outreach publication has tips for those wanting to grow the mild vegetable

June 29, 2016, 9:47 am | Ajay Nair

Pak ChoiAMES, Iowa – Pak choi is an increasingly popular vegetable in the Midwest thanks to its mild flavor and suitability as a stir fry vegetable. Because of its rising popularity, Ajay Nair of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has authored a publication highlighting the types of Pak choi that can be grown, as well as the management techniques necessary to produce a strong crop.

The publication, titled "Commercial Production of Pak Choi," can be found through the Extension Store. It is written by Nair, an assistant professor of horticulture and extension vegetable production specialist, and Laura Irish, graduate student in horticulture at Iowa State.

“More and more farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture producers are adding Pak choi to their stands and CSA boxes, and consider it an essential green like lettuce and spinach,” Nair said.

Despite being a relatively new addition to the vegetable market, Pak choi has proven to be very versatile.

“Pak choi is a unique crop and is gaining popularity and acceptance among both growers and consumers,” Nair said. “It is a short duration crop similar to other greens with a unique flavor and appeal. Unlike most greens consumed raw, Pak choi is a cooking green and is a great addition to stir fries and other meals.”

While the vegetable has increased its demand and shown its versatility, many producers and consumers don’t know much about the crop.

“There is not much information available on Pak choi production in the United States, and specifically in the Midwest,” Nair said. “We believe this publication will help growers learn about basic cultural operations, nutrient demands, key pests and diseases and different cultivars of this crop. It will also lead to optimized production of Pak choi.”

Pak choi matures fairly quickly, needing just 40 to 60 days before it is ready to be harvested. The vegetable prefers well-drained soil and needs at least eight hours of direct sunlight for optimum growth.

Photo by Ajay Nair

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