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Oregon State University
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Mustard Greens and Condiment Mustard

Brassica rapa, Brassica juncea, various other species

Last revised December 27, 2002

Seeding o Fertilizer o Harvest, Handling, Storage o Condiment Mustard
Disease Control o Crucifer and Cole Crop Weed Control o Insect Control


This guide contains information on mustard grown for greens and on condiment mustard. General information on condiment mustard types and varieties is at the end of this guide while specific comments on condiment mustard production are identified seperately in the sections below.

MUSTARD VARIETIES FOR GREENS

Brassica juncea and Brassica rapa subsp. perviridis mustards used for greens are Fordhook Fancy, Green Wave (long standing), Osaka Purple, Florida Broadleaf (most popular variety in the South), Tendergreen II (a smooth, round leaf hybrid), Tendergreen, and Southern Giant Curled (curled type used in processing). Very many other excellent varieties and types are available with different leaf textures and colors. Consult seed catalogues for various conventional and other ethnic types.

OTHER GREENS

Other greens grown and marketed in similar manner (but not necessarily related botanically) are:

Mache or Corn Salad (smooth-leaf types Valerianella locusta; hairy-leaf types Valerianella erocarpa): Blonde Shell-Leaved, Corn Salad, Large Dutch (all smooth-leaf types).

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa), a close relative to rhubarb, also called dock, sour dock, sour grass: Garden Sorrel.

Cress, several species: Curly-cress and Peppergrass, also known as garden cress or land cress (Lepidium sativum); Watercress (Nasturtium officinale); Upland Cress, also known as creasy salad or creasy greens (Barbarea verna). For more information, see Upland Cress from North Carolina State University.

Black Mustard (Brassica nigra), is less common. It may be used for greens or its seed is used for flavoring pickles or salads.

Mesclun (mescalun, mescaline, mesculine) mix greens: An increasingly popular mix of greens includes lettuces such as: Batavian, butterhead, looseleaf, romaine, and miners lettuce mixed with other greens such as arugula, chicory, corn salad, dandelion, mache, travissio, kale, tat-soi, chard, endive, escarole, mizuna, mustard tips, radicchio, sorrel, spinach, edible chrysanthemum, nasturtium leaves, orach, parsley, watercress, plantain, and purslane, along with herbs such as basils, borage, chervil, chives, fennel, and salad burnet; and blossoms of borage, calendula, nasturtium, violas, and violets.

Mechanical harvesters for mixed plantings of salad greens are now available. See Harvesting and Handling section, below.

VARIETIES FOR CONDIMENT MUSTARD

Three types of condiment mustard, yellow (known in Europe as white), brown, and Oriental are grown in the U.S.A. The most common, about 90% of the crop, is yellow (Brassica hirta). A number of varieties and proprietary selections exist.

Tilney is used to make the standard yellow mustards to flavor American hot dogs. Other varieties such as Trico, White Mustard, Yellow/White Mustard, Ochre Kirby and Gisilba are also widely used to make yellow or white mustards with varying degrees of pungency and color.

Brown and Oriental mustards are Brassica juncea. Seed of varieties of brown mustard such as Common Brown, Blaze, and Forge, are used in hot, stone-ground and "French"-style mustard. Oriental mustard varieties are Lethbridge 22-A and Domo. Seed coat color of these varieties differ. Common Brown has a distinctive brown seed coat while Forge and Lethbridge 22-A have tan seedcoats or mixtures of tan and brown. Other varieties reported are Cutlass, French Brown and Burgogne.

Much of the condiment mustard seed used in the U.S. is imported from the prairie provinces of Canada. U.S. production is mainly in North Dakota. Mustards are considered an excellent rotation for wheat. Other production guidelines are outlined in the various sections below.

For more information on condiment mustards see: The Mustard Book by Jan Roberts-Dominguez. Macmillan Publishing Co. 1993.


SOIL

Important

Before planting Crucifer crops, consider the following important factors:

1. No crucifer crop, or related weed has been present in the field for at least 3 years, 4 years preferable. Crucifer crops include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, all mustards, turnips, rutabagas, radishes etc. Cruciferous weeds include wild radish, wild mustards etc. Also, crucifer plant waste should not have been dumped on these fields. This is no minimize problems from diseases such as Rhizoctonia and Fusarium root rots and Sclerotinia stem rot and white mold.

2. Soil pH should be 6.5 or higher. Soil pH over 6.8 is necessary to manage club root. The application of 1500 lb/acre of hydrated lime, 6 weeks prior to planting is recommended for soils with pH less than 7.5 for club root control.

3. Arrange to keep transplanted and direct-seeded fields separate to minimize spread of certain diseases that are more prevalent in transplanted fields.

Mustard greens may be grown on a variety of soils but do best on a well-drained, loam soil well supplied with organic matter. Sandy loams are preferred for early crops. Adjust soil pH to 6.0 - 6.8 for maximum yields.

Condiment mustards, which are generally not irrigated, should be planted on soils with good water-holding capacity without being water-logged, and at locations which have a high probability of spring rains to avoid risk of moisture stress.

Mustards germinate quickly when soils reach 45 F or warmer.


SEEDING

Use certified, or hot-water treated seed and fungicide treat seed to protect against several serious seed-borne diseases and assist in obtaining good stands. Hot water seed treatments are very specific (122 F exactly, for 25 to 30 minutes; the wet seed then quickly cooled and dried). The seed treatments are best done by the seed company, and can usually be provided upon request.

Mustards seeds of the species B. juncea (brown mustard) number approximately 250,000 per pound, while those of B. rapa perviridis (spinach mustard) number about 240,000 per pound.

Mustard greens: Approximately 3 to 4 lb of seed per acre are used, depending on variety and use. A common problem is planting too thick a stand. Spacing may be 4-6 inches in the row and 1 to 2 feet between rows.

If seeding for spring crop, seed as early as possible for the variety being used. For a fall crop, seed from early July through August. Plantings should be made at 1 to 3 week intervals depending on variety and use. Harvest date is approximately 50 days from seeding.

Mustard and turnip greens will maintain good quality for about 3 weeks. Collard greens can be harvested repeatedly for two to three months.

Condiment mustard is usually spring planted as early as possible for the variety being used (generally March or April). Five to 7 pounds of seed are generally used per acre when planting with grain drills. Plant 1/2 to 1 inch deep for rapid emergence.

Large seed, an important quality factor in brown mustard, is influenced by growing conditions and plant populations. Choose the lowest plant populations commensurate with suitable yields, and moisture conditions should not be limiting for best seed quality.


SPACINGS

Greens may be planted in beds 70 to 80 inches wide accomodating 4 to 6 multiple rows per bed, or in single or double rows (double rows spaced 10 to 20 inches apart).

Condiment mustard is planted at spacings of 6-8 inches between rows. This spacing allows for early row closure which minimizes weed problems and allows for high seed yields.


FERTILIZER

The following are general recommendations only. It is advisable to use a soil test for each field that is to be planted. More complete fertilizer and liming recommendations for mustards and other cole crops may be found in Broccoli.

Nitrogen: 100-120 (N) lb/acre. Sidedress one half the N at planting, and one half at 25 days.

With condiment mustard produced in eastern Oregon, and based on information from Idaho, use 50-75 lb N/acre following green manure; OR 75-95 lb/acre on fallow ground; OR 100-135 lb/acre following wheat if the residue was removed; OR 140-150 lb/acre following grain where residue was plowed down.

Apply all P and K at planting:

Phosphorus: 80-120 (P2O5) lb/acre
Potassium: 60-120 (K2O) lb/acre
Sulfur: 20-25 lb S/acre. Sulfur influences pungency of condiment mustard seed.
Boron: 1-2 lb B/acre, broadcast only. Do not band boron.


IRRIGATION

Maintain uniform soil moisture for tender growth and optimum nutrient availability. Soil type does not affect the amount of total water needed, but does dictate frequency of water application. Lighter soils need more frequent water applications, but less water applied per application.


HARVESTING, HANDLING, AND STORAGE

The University of California-Davis has a file on Minimal Processing of Fresh Vegetables that discusses film wrapping and other topics.

Yields of mustard greens for fresh market are approximately 150 cwt/acre.

Mustard greens are usually harvested by machine for processing and hand harvested for fresh market. If mustard greens are harvested for fresh market, it is necessary to remove any diseased or badly damaged leaves, and wash and cool the product as soon after harvest as possible.

Specialty leaf lettuces, spinach, and mustards for bag mixes have usually been harvested by hand, but harvesters for this use are now available. Three are:

  • Green Crop Harvester, made in England. Sole US distributors are C. and K. Anderson, Fresh Herb Co., 4114 Oxford Rd., Longmont, CO. The cost is $20,000 (1998 prices) for a 4-foot wide model which hold the greens upright by chain-driven sweeps and cuts the greens with a reciprocating knife (like a hedge trimmer). A picture of the machine can be seen in Johnny's Select Seeds 1998 catalogue, page 87.
  • Quick Cut harvester, an Italian, battery-powered, walk-behind machine with a 39", 48" or 54"-wide head and a band-saw cutter. Cost is $11,000. Sold by Ferrari Tractor CIE, PO Box 1045, Gridley, CA 95948; and by David Washburn and Meg Anderson of Red Cardinal Farm, 9694 75th St. North, Stillwater, MN 55082.
  • Enha Pro, a human-powered machine designed by Norbert Hufnagl, Field of Dreams, 117 Fredon Springdale Rd., Newton, NJ 07860. Cost is $2,429 for a two-head unit and $2,966 for a three-head unit.
Storage is not recommended, but if necessary the leaves may be held for up to 3 weeks at 32 F with 90-95% relative humidity.

Mustard seed used for condiment mustard is harvested by combining after the seed pods are dry, and seed has reached about 12-15 % moisture but before the pods begin to split. Seed must be further cleaned and packaged or stored in bulk for processing.


PACKAGING

Mustard greens are commonly packaged in 23 to 24-lb bushel baskets, crates, and cartons, 24 packages each; 30 to 35-lb (1.4 bushel and 1.6 bushel) wirebound crates; or, crates and cartons, 12-24 bunches.


DISEASE CONTROL FOR MUSTARD

THE FUNGICIDES LISTED BELOW ARE FOR INFORMATION ONLY AND ARE REVISED ONLY ANNUALLY. BECAUSE OF CONSTANTLY CHANGING LABELS, LAWS, AND REGULATIONS, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY CAN ASSUME NO LIABILITY FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF USE OF CHEMICALS SUGGESTED HERE. IN ALL CASES, READ AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS AND PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS ON THE SPECIFIC PESTICIDE PRODUCT LABEL.

USE PESTICIDES SAFELY!

Wear protective clothing and safety devices as recommended on the label. Bathe or shower after each use.

Read the pesticide label--even if you've used the pesticide before. Follow closely the instructions on the label (and any other directions you have).

Be cautious when you apply pesticides. Know your legal responsibility as a pesticide applicator. You may be liable for injury or damage resulting from pesticide use.

Note that Oregon law requires reporting of agricultural pesticide applications to the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture under its PURS program.

The Pacific Northwest Disease Control Handbook has no control entries for this crop. Proper rotations, field selection, sanitation, spacings, fertilizer and irrigation practices can reduce the risk of many diseases. Fields can be tested for presence of harmful nematodes. Using seed from reputable sources reduces risk from "seed-borne" diseases.

Fungicides registered for use on mustard, but not evaluated by University personnel in the Pacific Northwest, include Aliette, Microthiol Special, Telone, and Terraclor. Check labels for rates, restrictions, and diseases controlled.


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