Sesame is one of the most versatile crops. Sesame seeds are a reservoir of healthy fats and protein. The oil extracted from sesame seeds is a premium cooking oil. It's often acknowledged as "the queen of oils" due to its high concentration of antioxidants. The September 7th, 2021 Sustainable, Secure Food Blog explores more about sesame seed cultivation.
According to blogger Gurjinder Baath, there are several reasons farmers choose to grow sesame:
- Due to its short growing season, it can be easily added to various crop rotations.
- Sesame requires lower resources and offers more return (less risk) than other crops.
- Farm equipment that farmers already have can be used for growing sesame.
- Sesame is known for its heat, drought, disease, and insect tolerance. It is also less susceptible to economic damage from wild hogs, deer, or birds.
- Sesame has low water use during the drying phase that leads to more soil water storage for the subsequent crop in double-cropping systems.
- The brittle sesame residue controls soil erosion like higher residue crops, without the need for excess residue bailing equipment.
Researchers at Oklahoma State University, where Baath works, have been investigating the potential impacts of different air temperatures on sesame growth, yield, and physiology. They hope to define suitable regions for sesame cultivation as well as develop adaptation strategies for offsetting the impacts of future climate change.
Future research will study the factors responsible for temperature tolerance in sesame. Genetic evaluation of sesame is necessary to identify varieties capable of maintaining reproductive development under high temperatures. This will provide a broader geographic adaptation and sustain crop yields under current and future climates.