By Michael Boland, Kansas State University.

Reviewed April 2013 by Diane Huntrods, AgMRC, Iowa State University.


Mustard is native to temperate regions of Europe and has its historic base there. However, mustard supplies from western Europe were disrupted during World War II, and mustard began being produced as a specialty crop in North America.


Mustard is an annual, cool-season economic cash crop that has a short growing season and is commonly grown in rotation with small grains. Yellow mustard varieties usually mature in 80 to 85 days, while brown and oriental varieties typically require 90 to 95 days to mature. Mustard is best adapted to grow in fertile, well-drained, loamy soils. Producers are encouraged to grow mustard under contract to guarantee a market and a selling price.

The three types of mustard are: yellow, brown and oriental. In general, mustard seed is primarily used in the food or condiment industries in the form of either seeds or oil. Yellow mustard is the mildest of the three and has lower oil content. It is most commonly used to produce “mild” prepared mustard for table use but is also used as a dry mustard for seasoning in mayonnaise, salad dressings and sauces. The flour that is made from yellow mustard is also an excellent emulsifying agent and stabilizer for prepared meats. Brown and oriental are primarily used for “hot” table mustard and for oil and spices. The leaves of the brown seed plant are eaten as salad greens.

Mustard is grown in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington. Mustard production increased to 29.9 million pounds in 2012 but yield continued to decline, falling to 602 pounds per acre. With an average price of $36.10 per hundredweight (cwt), the total value of production was $10,816 million that year.  (NASS 2013)

From 2008 to 2011, total acres of mustard harvested in the United States dropped from 71,500 acres to 21,800 acres (down 55 percent from 2010), and total production of mustard dropped from 41.3 million pounds to 15.6 million pounds (a 63 percent decrease from 2010).  (NASS 2012)


The average price for U.S. mustard seed increased to $36.10 per cwt in 2012. However, that price was below 2008's average price of $43.80.  (NASS 2013)


Consumption of mustard has been steady, and any growth in the market for mustard has a direct relationship to population growth. According to the Foreign Ag Service (FAS), the United States exported mustard seeds valued at $1.4 million in 2011, a 24 percent drop from the previous year. Japan was the primary market, followed by Canada and Thailand. All three countries experienced a double-digit decline in mustard seed purchases.

On the other hand, mustard seeds valued at nearly $52 million were imported in 2011, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Canada was the main supplier, followed by India.

The major market for yellow mustard is the North American condiment industry. Europe is the major market for brown mustard for use as a condiment, often in the form of specialty mustards such as Dijon. Asia is the major market for oriental mustard for use as spicy cooking oil and condiments.

Other Links

Developed March 2005 and reviewed April 2013. Links checked November 2013.