Mustard - Sinapis arvensis

Common Name: 
Mustard
Family: 
Brassicaceae
Genus: 
Sinapis
Species: 
arvensis

Wild Mustard (Sinapis arvensis L., Brassica kaber (DC.) L.C. Wheeler var. pinnatifida (Stokes) L.C. Wheeler) is an aggressive weed indigenous throughout most of the temperate regions of Europe, Asia minor, southwest Asia and North Africa. It was introduced into North America.

In Ontario, Canada, wild mustard is common in cultivated fields, gardens, pastures, riverbanks, roadsides and waste places.

Wild mustard can represent a serious weed problem in canola and spring cereals. Germination of wild mustard seed, and rapid early seedling growth under cool spring and fall temperatures, allow wild mustard to compete effectively with crop plants for light, water and nutrients. Populations of wild mustard left uncontrolled throughout the growing season can reduce potential yield and seed quality of the harvested crop.

Wild mustard is an annual plant that exhibits erect growth. The seedlings have broad kidney-shaped cotyledons (seed-leaves) that are indented at the tip. Older plants have alternate leaves that are somewhat hairy, especially on the lower surface of the veins. The lower leaves are usually stalked, deeply lobed with a large terminal segment and a few smaller lateral lobes. Upper leaves are stalkless, generally undivided but coarsely toothed. Plant height can range from 30-100 cm with either simple or much-branched stems. The stems usually have stiff downward pointing hairs, especially on the lower parts, and are green or somewhat purplish. Flowers are produced in small clusters at the ends of branches; these clusters elongating as the seedpods develop.

Wild mustard plants have from 10-18 seeds per pod and from 2,000-3,500 seeds per plant. During harvesting operations, shattering may result in large quantities of seed being left on the ground, or seeds may be transported into other fields by harvesting machinery or as impurities in crop and forage seed. Some wild mustard seed is capable of germination as soon as it is mature. However, these seeds may also remain viable in the soil for as long as 60 years, particularly those that are buried at considerable depths. Due to the longevity of wild mustard seed in the soil it is important to control this weed and reduce the amount of seed returned to the soil. This minimizes potential economic losses in current as well as future years.

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