2012 sesame producer_guide_13_feb
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SESAME PRODUCER GUIDE
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FOREWORD Every year since 1982, a Sesame Production Guide has been published to share and update producers with experiences
of the SESACO Production and Research teams. The teams work together expanding the boundaries and knowledge of
sesame production. As the sesame industry evolves, more information and experience is shared with a widening diverse
group of producers and researchers.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 ADVANTAGES 10 PLANTING
2 INTRODUCTION 11 Seed Metering Equipment
2 CROP DESCRIPTION 11 Planting Rates
3 U.S. Growing Area 12 MOISTURE AND NUTRIENTS
3 Temperature 12 Moisture Management
3 Growth 12 Dryland
4 Development 13 Irrigation
6 FIELD SELECTION 15 Nutrient Management
6 Soils 15 PEST
6 Herbicide Carryover 15 Weeds and Herbicides
6 Sesame in Rotation 17 Diseases
8 PREPLANT CONSIDERATIONS 18 Insects
8 No-till 19 Wildlife
8 Conventional Tillage 19 HARVEST
9 Preformed Raised Beds 19 Moisture matters
9 Row Spacing 20 Header
9 Dry and Buster Planting 20 Threshing
9 PLANTING DATES 21 PLANTING EQUIPMENT SETTINGS
10 Traditional Areas 23 DEVELOPMENT OF SESAME
10 Expansion Areas
ADVANTAGES OF GROWING SESAME One of the most efficient crops for volumes of 6 to16
inches of plant available water.
A versatile crop grown in arid/semi-arid regions with
unique attributes to fit almost any cropping system.
Offers more potential return for less cost (less risk)
than other crops.
Can be more profitable with limited resources than
other crops using the same level of resources.
Excellent drought and heat tolerance. Performing
where other crops fail.
Common equipment used for other crops can be
used to produce sesame.
Has shown excellent disease and insect tolerance
and has shown to grow well in cotton root rot infested
Relatively negligible economic damage from wild
hogs, deer, and/or birds.
Deep tap root may reach and utilize nutrients and
moisture below the root zone of other crops.
As a non-host for root-knot nematodes, rotation with
sesame has shown to reduce nematode levels.
Adds beneficial residue not only on the surface but
within the soil profile, resulting in improved tilth and
Is a standard nation-wide program crop. No follow up
crop is required to receive program payments.
Multi Peril Crop Insurance Pilot Program established
in specific counties of Texas and Oklahoma in 2011.
Stretch limited water supplies by dividing acres with
higher moisture demanding crops.
Has worked well as a catch crop option following
failed wheat, canola or cotton.
Has not shown iron or zinc deficiencies on high pH
Grows well in no-till and results in mellow soil with
residue that allows uniform planting.
During the drying phase (last 30-40 days), soils may
collect and store rainfall for the following crop.
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SESACO is the premier genetic developer, processor, and
marketer of U.S. grown sesame. SESACO has used
traditional breeding to develop the only non-dehiscent
(ND) sesame varieties in the world (U.S. patent number
6,100,452). ND sesame changes the way sesame has
been cultivated and harvested for 7,500 years.
Even today, 99% of the sesame grown in the world is still
harvested manually because traditional sesame capsules
shatter during the drying stage before harvest. SESACO
ND varieties mature and dry standing in the field and then
are harvested direct from standing plants. Traditional
sesame with known traits such as drought, heat, insect,
and disease tolerance is now completely mechanized by
the ND genes. In 2008, SESACO released the first
Improved Non-Dehiscent (IND) varieties (U.S. patent
CROP DESCRIPTION Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is a broadleaf summer crop
with similar growth habits to cotton and soybeans.
Generally, it is 3-5 feet tall; and, with good moisture and
fertility, sesame can reach 5-6 feet. Varieties can be single
stemmed or have branches.
Flowering starts about 35-45 days after planting, typically
setting two new flowers per day. Sesame is indeterminate
but generally flowering stops after 75-85 days.
The fruiting form is called a capsule. The first capsule is
about 1-2 ft above the ground. Capsules are divided by
carpels like a cotton boll. There are 4 rows of seeds in each
capsule with about 70 seeds produced in each capsule.
The plant is very leafy and succulent prior to physiological
maturity (PM) which normally occurs 95-110 days after
planting. PM is when 75% of the capsules on the main
stem have mature seed. Normally, sesame will self-
defoliate by full maturity and drydown 120-150 days after
planting. Frost may accelerate drydown and prepare the
crop for an earlier harvest. A killing freeze will terminate the
crop and typically dry down the plants in 7 to 10 days.
Usually a freeze after PM does not damage the crop.
Photo 1. A mature capsule cut open to present seed arrangement. Photo by J. Simon.
Photo 2. Sesame in mid bloom with full size capsules 6 node pairs below open flower.
Cover Photo. Irrigated sesame on the High Plains in rotation
with corn and cotton.
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Fig. 1. SESACOs traditional production areas have been mainly in TX, OK,KS, and some in AL, as shown in green. Sesame
can be grown in many areas of the southern United States.
U.S. Growing Area
SESACO has ambitious goals to grow more sesame each and every year. As shown in purple in Figure 1, SESACO is
expanding into areas outside of the traditional TX, OK, and KS production area. These areas have previously grown
sesame either as commercial production or game bird food plots. In the expansion areas, sesame is being planted as
both a primary crop and a double crop behind wheat. Sesame offers producers an alternative rotational crop that can be
integrated into many cropping systems like potatoes, watermelons, etc.
Sesame is very heat tolerant. Cool temperatures are
more limiting to production than hot or even very hot
temperatures. Sesame has produced excellent yields
while enduring very hot temperatures (120F) in the
deserts of Arizona and around the world.
The threshold temperature for growing degree days of
sesame is 60.6F. When night temperatures go below
this threshold, it takes longer for the crop to mature.
Typically, sesame requires 115 days from emergence to
the first frost date. Sesame needs to reach physiological
maturity prior to frost to make optimum yield.
As shown in Figure 2, sesame is characterized by a slow
growth rate in the first 30-35 days to reach only 12 while
the root is growing faster than the leaves and stems. This
is followed by a rapid increase in height of roughly 12
every 7-10 days to reach 4 feet by 60 days from planting.
At the end of flowering, the plants no longer grow.
With limiting moisture conditions, the final plant heights
are lower, but the pattern of slow growth followed by fast
growth during the reproductive phase exists under all
Fig. 2. Normal growth curve for sesame.
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There are four phases in the development of sesame
as shown in Table 1. Each of these (excluding the
ripening phase) are divided into stages based upon
events which can be identified. With this information,
producers should make timely applications of inputs
and schedule future activities as the crop develops.
For the germination stage, soil temperatures need to
maintain a minimum of 70F at planting depth. Final
stand should be judged at 7 days after planting.
During the germination stage, a rain can create a crust
in the soil over the sesame. If the seed is located
inside the crust, there is almost no hope for emergence,
and the sesame should be replanted. If the seeds are
germinating below the crust, there is a possibility that
the crust will crack and allow for emergence. The stage
ends when the seedlings emerge.
The seedling stage is a tough time for producers
because of the slow pace of growth. This stage is still
too small to cultivate. The stage ends when the 3rd
of true leaves are as long as the 2nd
In the juvenile stage there is a dramatic surge in growth.
At this stage, it is important to consider cultivating and
sidedressing. The stage ends when the first green buds
The pre-reproductive stage is the most important stage to
optimize production. This is the last chance to sidedress,
let alone get a tractor into the field. From this stage until
late bloom, it is important to minimize stre