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Cornell University

Cover Crop Guide for NY Growers

Dr. Thomas Björkman, Horticulture Section, Cornell AgriTech

Mustard, Spring

In the Northeast, yellow mustard is used as a spring-planted cover crop before regular season vegetables. It is used particularly for reducing root rot. It also adds organic matter, breaks up hardpan, and suppresses weeds in the following crop.

Land Preparation

Firm seedbed free of weeds to ensure a good stand. Available nitrogen levels at 120 lb N/ May require sulfur application at 6:1 N:S. Vegetable land often has sufficient nutrients.

Seeding Rate

Drill 10-12 lb/ac with grass seeder. Broadcast 10-15 lb/ac. Cover 1/2 inch. After seeding, roll the ground to improve seed-to-soil contact but do not break up soil aggregates.

Seeding Dates

April. Can also be frost seeded in March or early April.

Seed Suppliers

Rupp Seeds (Caliente), MinnDak Growers (Tilney).




Do not let mustards go to seed. Incorporate at flowering (mid to late-May). For better disease suppression, flail mow into fine pieces and incorporate immediately. Press lightly to contain biofumigant.


Do not use in rotations with other Brassicas. If used as a biofumigant, allow it to work for 1-2 weeks before preparing to plant.

All uses for Mustard, Spring
Management Goal Planting Time
Reduce Root Rot Spring
Increase Organic Matter Spring
Break Up Deep Compaction Spring
Reduce Weeds Spring