NC Commissioner Troxler: Sesame Research

  • Sesame is starting to make a greater appearance in fields across the state thanks to ongoing research funded through the department’s New and Emerging Crops Program.
  • This year over 2,250 acres of sesame was grown in 17 counties in the state.
  • Through research and field trials, more information is being learned to help farmers better understand how to grow and manage sesame production.
  • Early research has shown that getting a correct planting depth for the seed and managing weeds are essential to crop success.
  • The biggest sesame crops could be found in Sampson, Union, Pitt and Stanly counties, where acreage ranged from 200 to 500 acres.
  • Research began after New and Emerging Crops Program coordinator Hunter Barrier received two inquiries in 2020 about the possibility of sesame production in North Carolina.
  • Four small demonstration plots were planted at the Piedmont Research Station in Rowan County, the Sandhills Research Station in Montgomery County, the Horticultural Crops Research Station in Sampson County and the Williamsdale Farm Extension and Research Center in Duplin County.
  • Those early efforts showed promise, and the researcher, Dr. David Suchoff, (pronounced Su-coff/cough) applied for funding through the new and emerging crops program for additional research.
  • Many factors bode well for the crop in North Carolina. The soil is correct, the crop has proven to be fairly easy to grow, farmers can use equipment they already have to plant and harvest the crop and a market exists for sesame.
  • The sesame harvest was expected to wrap up in mid-to-late October.
  • It will be interesting to watch this crop and see if more farmers decide to grow sesame in the future as part of their crop rotation.
  • So far, it seems to grow well here and is deer and nematode resistant – a big plus potentially for growers.
  • We started the New and Emerging Crop Program for just this reason. While plenty is known about how to grow sesame in other states, we did not know what the crop would do here in North Carolina and what farmers would need to do to grow it here.
  • Research will help us figure that out.