Amid worldwide mustard seed shortages, deteriorating growing conditions in No. 1 exporter Canada are diminishing hopes that mustard seed supplies will bounce back this season.
Gro’s vegetative health index, weighted for Canada’s mustard crop using Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, shows a substantial decline in recent weeks as hot and dry conditions worsened. Soil moisture levels are currently below even those of 2021, when “severe” drought, as measured by the Gro Drought Index, drove mustard seed production down 49% to about 50,000 tonnes from a year earlier, the lowest level since the 1970s.
This year’s drought readings are less severe than in 2021, with the Gro Drought Index currently showing “moderate” drought for Canada’s mustard-growing regions. In addition, a big increase in area planted to mustard seed — up 80% to 225,000 hectares — could lift production. Still, with the 10-day forecast pointing to continued high temperatures and little, if any, rain, the Canadian crop has little time to recover before next month’s harvest.
View a display in Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator highlighting key measures of growing conditions for Canada’s mustard seed crop, including temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, the Gro Drought Index, and Gro’s vegetative health index, an important indicator of plant health.
Mustard seeds have a broad range of uses, besides as a condiment to spread on hot dogs. The seeds are widely used by the meat industry as a flavoring and preservative. They are also an important ingredient in many packaged food items such as salad dressings, sauces, soups and baked goods.
Canada’s dismal 2021 crop slashed mustard seed supplies — the government in July announced that old crop mustard seed stocks had been fully depleted. Canadian mustard seed is difficult for importers to replace because of its high quality. While most of Canada’s exports go to the US, Europe is also a big buyer and many grocery shelves in France have been emptied of the condiment because of shortages from Canada and damage to the domestic crop due to drought.