Quinoa produces a cereal-like grain with a higher protein content and a better balanced amino acid composition than the major cereals. It is cultivated at high altitudes in the Andes, and is believed to have potential for temperate regions. In the development of quinoa as an arable break crop, sowing date, sowing rate and row spacing are identified as agronomic variables having a high priority for investigation. The variety Baer, from high latitudes at sea-level in Chile, and the variety Blanca de Junin, from the inter-Andean valleys of Peru, were sown on 25 March, 14 April and 7 May 1982 at spacings between rows of 0·8 and 0·4 m and sowing rates within rows of 0·2, 0·4 and 0·6 g/m, at Cambridge, England. These varieties were chosen for their strongly contrasting origins and plant types. In another experiment sown on 15 March 1984, Blanca de Junin was replaced by another valley variety, Amarilla de Marangani, somewhat better adapted for cultivation in England. Between-row spacings of 0·4 and 0·2 m, and sowing rates of 15, 20 and 30 kg seed/ha were used. Weed competition was more intense after later sowings, causing the plots sown in May to be abandoned. At the higher sowing rates, plants were shorter, a higher proportion were stunted, branching was reduced and maturity was earlier. These effects were more marked in the valley varieties, particularly Blanca de Junin. Increases in within-row density caused greater increases in competition effects than corresponding reductions in row width, except for the effect on the proportion of branched plants. The highest grain yield, 6·96 t/ha, was obtained with Baer sown in March in rows 0·2 m apart at 20 kg seed/ha. However, Amarilla de Marangani produced a higher yield at 30 kg seed/ha than at 20 kg seed/ha, which is surprising since valley varieties are normally sown with low target population densities or in intercrop, and Amarilla de Marangani was, in other respects, less tolerant of competition than Baer. The implications of these results for the cultivation of quinoa in mechanized farming systems, both in temperate and in highland tropical regions, are discussed.