Mustard - Production and Management

Field Selection

Mustard can be grown on most soil types and is best adapted to the Brown and Dark Brown soils. Soils prone to crusting and dry, sandy soils are not recommended. Yellow, brown and Oriental mustard tolerate drought conditions. Fields should be free of wild mustard and volunteer oilseed crops.

Variety Information

Seeding Mustard


Mustard seed can be treated to minimize losses from damping-off and root rot. Seed is also frequently treated for control of flea beetles when they are forecast to be a problem.


May 5 to May 31. Seedlings are quite tolerant of frost; therefore, to maximize yields, sow early in May.


Yellow Mustard — 7-10 lb/acre to achieve a plant population of 7-11 plants/ft2 (70-110 plants/m2)

Brown and Oriental Mustard — 4-6 lb/acre to achieve a plant population of 7-11 plants/ft2 (70-110 plants/m2)

Seeding rates at the high end of the recommended range should be used for late seeding, soil prone to crusting or heavy weed pressure.

Seeding Depth

0.5 to 1.5 inches. Seed should be placed only deep enough to reach moisture.

Fertilizer Recommendations For Mustard

For specific recommendations on fertilizer rates, have your soil tested. Mustard is similar to canola in sensitivity to high rates of seed-placed fertilizer. Refer to tables 3 and 4 for maximum safe rates of N and P. All potassium and sulphur should be applied away from the seed. If soil analysis is not available, a general recommendation is as follows:


Nitrogen (N):
Apply 0-30 lb/acre N following fallow or legume breaking, 30-70 lb/acre N following grass and grass-legume breaking and 70-90 lb/acre N following stubble. High-yielding mustard requires high nitrogen fertility. The primary nitrogen deficiency symptoms are yellowing, starting with the older leaves, and thin, spindly stems.
Phosphate (P2O5):
Apply phosphate at 30-40 lb/acre as a sideband or 20 lb/acre with the seed. The primary phosphate deficiency symptom is poor root development and reduced branching with thin, spindly branches.
Potassium (K2O):
On sandy textured or organic soils, apply potassium at rates of 30-60 lb/acre. Deficiency symptoms are stunted growth, with smaller leaves and thinner stems. Eventually the edges of lower leaves turn brown and drop off.
Sulphur (S):
Apply sulphate sulphur at 20 lb/acre on well-drained soils and grey luvisol (grey wooded) soils. Sulphur deficiency may occur in many soils and in any area of the province. A soil test is recommended to determine the available sulphur status of fields. Mustard requires about twice as much sulphur as do cereal crops. A minor sulphur deficiency is usually not detected visually, but results in significant yield reductions. Major sulphur deficiency symptoms are most visible on the newest leaves and start with yellowing. Leaves showing more severe deficiency symptoms may be cup-shaped, with purple colouration on the back of the leaves.


Weed Control

Weeds can reduce both yield and quality of mustard. Some of the weed seeds that are difficult to remove or cannot be cleaned out of yellow mustard and cause downgrading are wild mustard, cow cockle, volunteer canola, ball mustard, dog mustard and stinkweed. Weed seeds causing downgrading for brown or oriental mustard are cow cockle, pigweed, volunteer canola, cleavers and wild mustard.


Grasshoppers, cutworms, bertha armyworms, flea beetles, and diamondback moth can damage mustard.

Diseases Affecting Mustard

Mustard is susceptible to sclerotinia, and therefore crop rotations that include field beans, field peas, canola, sunflowers and other sclerotinia-susceptible crops increase the risk of infection of the mustard crop. All types of mustard are resistant to blackleg.

Also refer to Scouting for Diseases

Crop disease identification, scouting techniques, economic thresholds.

Link: How to obtain printed copies of the Field Scouting Guide and Guide to Field Crop Protection.

Harvesting Mustard


Yellow mustard is resistant to shattering and therefore can be straight-combined. If the crop is to be swathed, seed moisture should be around 25%.

Brown and oriental mustard are less resistant to shattering and are usually swathed. In order to minimize shattering, swath under dewy conditions. Brown mustard should be swathed when 60% of the seeds are reddish-brown. Seeds that are green at this stage will not mature in the swath.

Oriental mustard should be swathed when 75% of the seeds are yellow. Seeds that are green will not mature in the swath.


Desiccation accelerates plant dry-down, not plant maturity, and therefore should not be sprayed before the stages indicated for swathing. For detailed information on desiccation, consult the current Guide to Crop Protection.


Mustard is considered ready to combine when moisture reaches 12-13% or less and no green seed can be found. Pickup speed should match ground speed to minimize shattering losses. Cylinder speed should be about 500-600 rpm; if the cylinder speed is too fast, seeds will crack. Wind speed should be kept low in order to minimize seed loss with the chaff.

Straw Management

Mustard straw breaks down quite readily and can be toxic to flax the following year. In order to minimize seeding problems in the spring, the straw should be spread behind the combine rather than placed in a row.


For long-term storage, mustard should be at 9% moisture. Mustard stores best at temperatures below 20° C.

Once in storage, mustard should be cooled, since the seed continues a high respiration rate for up to six weeks. This respiration rate creates moist areas (sweating) in the bin that become hot spots. Mustard should be monitored carefully for heating problems.

For specific information on: