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SESAME (Sesamum indicum)


Sesamum belongs to the family Pedaliaceae.It is annual herb growing to a height of 0.5-2.0 m. The plant has tap root system with erect stem which is square in cross section.The leaves on the stem may be opposite,alternate or mixed.The inflorescence is a receme. The flowers arise in the leaf axils. The fruit is a capsule having two or four carpels.Seeds are small, ovate, slightly flattened and the colour may be black, white or brown.
Sesame grows in well-drained, sandy loam soils. Coarse sandy soils and soils of alkaline and saline nature are not suited for the crop.


Lowland paddy field: December-April (third crop)
Uplands: August-December


For upland cultivation use varieties with long duration of 100-110 days and for low land use varieties with duration of 80-99 days.

Kayamkulam-1 Suitable for lowlands of Onattukara
Kayamkulam-2 (Thilothama) Suitable for rice fallows in Onattukara, resistant to leaf spot disease
ACV-1 (Soma) Pure line selection for summer fallows of Onattukara
ACV-2 (Surya) Pure line selection suited for uplands
ACV-3 (Thilak) Pure line selection suited to summer fallows of Onattukara
Thilathara (CST 785 x B14) Suitable for the summer rice fallows of Onattukara, oil 51.5%, duration 78 days
OMT-1165 Suited to uplands of Onattukara (rabi season), oil 50.5%
Thilarani Suited to summer rice fallows of Onattukara



Preparation of land and sowing

Prepare the soil into a fine tilth by ploughing 2-4 times and breaking the clods. Seed rate is 4-5 kg/ha. Broadcast seeds evenly, preferably mixed with sand 2-3 times its volume, to ensure uniform coverage. Work with harrow, followed by pressing with wooden plank so as to cover the seed in the soil.



Usually the crop is grown under rainfed conditions. When facilities are available, the crop may be irrigated to field capacity after thinning operation and thereafter at 15-20 days interval. Stop irrigation just before the pods begin to mature.
Surface irrigation at 3 cm depth during the critical stages, viz., 4-5 leaves, branching, flowering and pod formation will increase the yield by 35-52%. Two irrigations of 3 cm depth each in the vegetative phase (4-5 leaf stage or branching) and in reproductive phase (at flowering or pod formation) are the best, registering maximum yield and water use efficiency. In the case of single irrigation, it can be best given in the reproductive phase. In the tail end fields in command area, best use of the sparingly available water can be made for augmenting sesame production.


Apply manures and fertilizers at the following rates.

Cattle manure/compost 5 t/ha
N:P2O5:K2O 30:15:30 kg/ha

Apply cattle manure/compost as basal dressing and incorporate into the soil along with last ploughing. Apply fertilizers as basal dose when there is enough moisture in the soil. Urea is preferable to ammonium sulphate. Nitrogen may be applied in split doses, 75% as basal and the balance as foliar spray at 3% concentration, 20-35 days after sowing keeping the discharge rate at 500 l/ha.



Aftercultivation of the crop may be done twice, first at 15 days and the next 25-35 days after sowing. When the plants are about 15 cm in height, thin the crop so as to give a spacing of 15-25 cm between plants.


For control of leaf and pod caterpillar, remove affected leaves and shoots and dust with carbaryl 10%. For control of gall fly, give preventive spray with 0.2% carbaryl

For control of leaf curl disease, remove and destroy disease affected sesame plants as well as the diseased collateral hosts like chilli, tomato and zinnia.
Remove plants affected with phyllody and destroy them. Do not use seeds from affected plants for sowing.


 Harvest the crop, when the capsules turn yellowish by pulling out the plants. Harvest during the morning hours. Cut the root portion and stack the plants in bundles for 3-4 days when the leaves will fall off. Spread in the sun and beat with sticks to break open the capsules. Repeat this for 3 days. Preserve seeds collected during the first day for seed purposes. Clean and dry in sun for about 7 days before storing.


Storage of seeds

By keeping sesame seeds in polybags, tin bins, wooden receptacles or in earthen pots, the viability can be maintained for about one year. Admixture of seeds with ash will drastically reduce germination.

800-1000 kg of seeds per hectare.

KISSAN Kerala Operations Centre, IIITM-K, NILA, Techno park Campus, Thiruvananthapuram

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