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Brown mustard, Brassica juncea, originated from the hybridization of Brassica nigra with Brassica campestris. This probably happened in southwestern Asia and India where the natural distribution of the two species overlaps. Brown mustard has been grown for oilseed, greens, and as a spice. In the 1940s, a yellow-seeded variety of brown mustard was imported into the United States from China and became widely cultivated because, unlike someother mustards, it could be mechanically harvested. Currently, efforts are underway in Canada to develop canola quality brown mustards for oil use; however, in the United States the market is primarily as a source of biodiesel.
The brown mustard plant has become recognized for improved heat tolerance relative to spring canola cultivars. It is a very flexible crop, responding well to a wide range of rainfall or to supplemental irrigation. Plants can branch and put on more flowers as moisture becomes less limiting; however, they will produce some yield even with very limited water.