Growing mustard plants

Yellow, brown and oriental mustard plants tolerate frost up to -6°C during sunrise. They are susceptible to periodic droughts, especially in April when the demand for water is the highest, and when the seeds begin to mature. However, this demand for water is smaller than in case of Spring Canola. Insufficient amounts of water can significantly reduce the yield.

Yellow mustard plant can be grown in the entire Poland whereas the best areas to grow oriental mustard plant are the north and south-east regions, as well as the foothills of the Carpathians and Sudetes. In terms of soil, mustard prefers loamy or sandy-loam soils, warm, humous soils of wheat and rye complexes. It can be also grown on lighter soils but not purely sandy ones. On top of that, the soil needs to be neutral – acidic, impermeable or waterlogged soils with high levels of ground water are not recommended, despite the fact that mustard has the ability to reach those nutrients that are difficult to obtain.

Mustard is an oil plant. It shares many features with canola, but its requirements when it comes to climate and soil are lower. It’s also relatively cheaper to grow and maintain and less likely to shed seeds.


Root crops and leguminous plants make the best forecrop for mustard plant. However, they are most often grown after harvesting the maincrop. Mustard shouldn’t be grown after plants from the Brassicaceae family such as canola because they might get attacked by flea beetles, and there is a high probability of self-seeding which can be difficult to deal with. Another threat to mustard is clubroot which is very dangerous and requires quarantine treatment.

Mustard plant shouldn’t be used as forecrop.

Preparing the field

The field needs to be ploughed before winter to a depth of 20-25 cm. The spring harvest should be very short, and it’s important not to allow the soil to dry too heavily. Once the ploughland dries it needs to be harrowed, and cultivated (by means of a harrow + string shaft) before planting the seeds.


The pH range of soil is an important factor when growing mustard plant, as it affects the nutrients in the soil and fertilizers. The optimal pH range varies between 5,8 and 6,8. If soil is below this range, it is necessary to lime it just after harvesting forecrop.

In case of soils with light and medium compaction, the suggested calcium dosage is: 2-3 tonnes / hectare and if the soil it not rich in magnesium, it is recommended to use calcic-magnesium fertilizer.

In case of heavy, compacted soils, it is recommended to use calcium oxide (1-1,5 tonnes / hectare).

The dosages of nitrogen are as follows:  

  • from 60 to 80 kg/hectare (after root crops and leguminous plants),
  • from 80 to 120 kg/hectare (after grains)

Nitrogen is the most effective in the form of nitro-chalk and ammonium nitrate. When using high doses, it is advised to split the doses into a basic dose (2/3) and a top dressing of (1/3), which should be applied two weeks after emergence but not later than when shoots appear. Instead of applying the top-dressing, it is possible to use 2-stage foliar fertilization: first stage - when the plants grow up to 15 cm and the second stage - when green buds appear. The concentration of the water based urea solution in foliar fertilizations should be between 5-6 %, what translates into 15-18 kg of fertilizer for 300 litres of water.

It is important not to over-fertilize with nitrogen as it can cause plants to grow too large make them susceptible to diseases. It also increases the time it takes the seed to ripe. 

Phosphorous and potassium

Phosphorous and potassium based fertilizers should be applied in autumn before the winter ploughing. The same goes for nitrogenous fertilizers when applied as one dose, or the first dose when split into two. The exception are light soils and areas with heavy rainfall where fertilizers should be applied in spring to prevent washing away potassium.

Dosage of phosphorous

  • from 30 to 45 kg/hectare (after root crops),
  • from 50 to 70 kg/ hectare (after grains)

Dosage of phosphorous:

  • from 60 to 80 kg/ hectare (after root crops),
  • from 70 to 120 kg/ hectare (after grains)

As a member of the cruciferous family, mustard plant requires sulphur, magnesium, boron and sodium.

Types of mustard plants

Several types of yellow mustard and one type of oriental mustard can be found in the national register of 2007.

1. Types of yellow mustard:

  • Ascot, Bardena, Borowska, Dara, Nakielska, Polka
  • Barka, Concerta, Litember, Maryna, Martigena, Metex, Radena, Rota, Sirola, Tango

(the mentioned types contribute to lowering the number of the beet cyst eelworm in the soil). Bamberka – it is necessary to isolate it with other types of mustard; the minimal distance is 450 meters from neighbouring plantations

2. Oriental mustard: Lesser Poland

3. Brown mustard: no registered types in the polish registry

1000 mustard seeds (MTN) weigh from 3 to 10 g.


Given its resistance to frost, mustard should be planted early (along with spring cereals) as it will have more time to develop strong, solid stalks with many side shoots. Delays in planting results in a smaller yield. A ten-day delay in reference to the optimal planting period can result in a 13 % decrease in yellow mustard and a 12 % decrease in oriental mustard. When the delay is approx. twenty days, the decrease can grow to 19 % and 27 % respectively. The best temperature for planting is 5°C.

Mustard plant requires a specific amount of sunlight to bloom. The growing season for yellow mustard is between 80-125 days and in case of brown mustard - 100 to 110 days.

The optimal population of mustard after emergence should be approx. 100-120 plants per square metre. Given the average mass of 1000 high-quality seeds with high germination strength, in order to achieve the above population, it is necessary to plant the following number of seeds in increments of 25-35 cm.

  • Yellow mustard seeds: 6 -9 kg/hectare
  • Oriental mustard seeds: 4 – 6 kg/hectare
  • Brown mustard seeds: 3 – 5 kg/ hectare

In high cultured soils, it is possible to decrease the number of seeds and increase the spacing provided that high fertilization is used.

In clean soils, it is possible to decrease the spacing to 10-15 cm, and increase the number of seeds by approximately 10 % (planted at the depth of 1-2 cm).

Before planting, it is necessary to apply special T-suspension seed dressing which protects the young plants against gangrene.

Weed control

Herbicides are the most frequent choice when it comes to weed control. Broadleaf weeds can be taken care of by applying Galera - 0,35 l/hectare (or another substance with similar chemical composition) between the four-leaf phase and the moment when shoots appear.

Perenal 104 EC (0,5 l/hectare) is very effective against annual grass weeds. It can be applied between the two-leaf phase and the moment shoots appear. The same substance but at a higher dosage (1–1,25 l/ha) can help get rid of couch grass, which at the moment of application should have between 4-8 leaves. Fusilade is also an option. Weed control substances registered for spring canola are known to work as well. They are very numerous but for the time being they are not registered for mustard.

When mustard is planted early and in tight rows, it spreads between rows, leaving no space for weeds. This practice can often be used instead of chemical weed control.

Mustard is attacked by the same pests as canola: the cabbage seedpod weevil, the turnip sawfly, the cabbage sawfly, the cabbage sea beetle, the brassica pod midge and the pollen beetle.

Cabbage seedpod weevil:

Spraying: as signalled, when flower pellets begin to fall, and first siliqua appear, but after bees return

Recommended chemicals: Decis 2,5 EC (0,3 l/hectare), Fastac 100 EC (0,1 l/ hectare), Karate 025 EC (0,3 l/ hectare), Patriot 100 EC (0,075 l/ hectare).

Damage threshold: 4 weevils per 25 plants

Turnip sawfly

Spraying: as soon as the first larvae appear

Recommended chemicals: Decis 2,5 EC (0,3–0,35 l/ hectare), Fastac 100 EC (0,08–0,1 l/ hectare), Karate 025 EC (0,25–0,3 l/ hectare), Patriot 100 EC (0,075–0,08 l/ hectare).

Cabbage aphid:

Spraying: as soon as the first colonies appear

Recommended chemicals: Decis 2,5 EC (0,35 l/ hectare), Fastac 100 EC (0,12 l/ hectare), Patriot 100 EC (0,08 l/ hectare), Pirimor 500 WG (0,25–0,5 kg/ hectare).

Cabbage flea beetle:

Spraying: as soon as the first flea beetles appear or when the damage is visible

Recommended chemicals: Decis 2,5 EC (0,25 l/ hectare), Patriot 100 EC (0,065 l/ hectare).

Brassica pod midge

Spraying: as signalled, when flower pellets fall, and first siliqua appear, but after bees return to their hives

Recommended chemicals: Decis 2,5 EC (0,3 l/ hectare), Fastac 100 EC (0,1 l/ hectare), Karate 025 EC (0,3 l/ hectare), Patriot 100 EC (0,075 l/ hectare).

Damage threshold: 1 fly per 4 plants  

Pollen beetle

Spraying: as signalled, as soon as the pollen beetle appears:

  • in compact inflorescence 1 plant / 1 beetle;
  • in loose inflorescence 3-5 beetles / 1 plant.

Recommended chemicals: Decis 2,5 EC (0,2 l/ hectare), Fastac 100 EC (0,1 l/ hectare), Karate 025 EC (0,25 l/ hectare), Patriot 100 EC (0,05 l/ hectare).

When using insecticides in blooming season it is necessary to respect the safe period for bees.



The harvesting process for mustard is the same as for canola. It can be either one or two-stage.

One-stage harvesting process:

In order to accelerate ripening and balance the yield, use Reglone 200 SL: 2 – 3 l/hectare, approximately 4-6 days before the planned harvest.

Two-stage harvesting process:

Once the siliqua begins to turn brown and the seeds begin to turn yellow, mow the plants in rows, which will allow the seeds to ripen and dry at the same time. Then, 2-3 weeks after cutting, harvest the plants using a combine.

It’s important to pay attention to the moisture of the seeds and the amount of green dockage, as too much moisture can cause the seeds to lose their technological parameters. A safe threshold for moisture is 10 %. If it rises to 12 %, there is high likelihood that the seed temperature will rise and allow fungi to grow, which in turn will disqualify the batch from usage in food production. High moisture can also lead to mould. Such mustard will not be eligible for use as aftercrop, as the germination will drop significantly. The seeds will also have a white fungal coating which will lower the value of the seeds.

The yield of yellow mustard in Poland (in production conditions) varies between 0,7 – 2,5 tons per hectare. In some cases, this number can grow up to 3 tons per hectare, but the average yields is 1,5 tons per hectare. A significant factor that determines the size of yield are insects, that increase the quality of pollination of mustard and other entomophilous plants. Plantations that are in close proximity to bees can have a yield increase of 30- 40 %.

Mustard seeds for food production should have the below parameters:

  • Seed moisture: ideally 6 – 7 % (in safe storage) 10 % max
  • No foreign odours
  • Colour appropriate for mature seeds
  • Seeds with white fungal coating (it’s best when absent) in permissible amount of 8 %
  • Dockage:

4% max (useable dockage)

2 % (unusable dockage)

  • Faecal matter not allowed (e.g. from rodents, birds)
  • Flour mites, as well as any other pests are not allowed

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