Northern Australian sesame varieties identified

Top sesame varieties identified for Northern Australia

Cropping
Associate Professor Surya Bhattarai is on a quest to build a new high-value cropping industry based on black sesame.

Associate Professor Surya Bhattarai is on a quest to build a new high-value cropping industry based on black sesame.

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The top sesame varieties have been identified for production in northern Australia.

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THE best performing sesame varieties for northern Australia have been identified, as part of a quest to build a new high-value cropping industry.

As part of a CRC for Developing Northern Australia project, CQUniversity assessed the performance of a series of black sesame varieties from AgriVentis Technologies at six different locations across Northern Australia.

Yields ranged from 1.37 tonnes/hectare up to 3.04t/ha depending on variety and location.

The trials revealed the highest seed yield at Biloela followed by Rockhampton, Katherine, Ayr, and Darwin. The lowest yield was at Tully.

Black sesame holds great promise for northern Australia.

Black sesame holds great promise for northern Australia.

"The seed yield between the varieties varied significantly at Biloela, Rockhampton and Darwin, but did not differ between the varieties at Ayr, Tully and Katherine, showing a significant genotype by environment interaction," lead research Associate Professor Surya Bhattarai said.

"Yields at all sites were significantly higher than the global average of 554kg/ha, but it's important to remember that these results are from one year's data only."

A technical report with the complete results are on the CRNCA website, showing each variety's yield, biomass, seed oil content and agronomic performance.

The global black sesame crop was valued at US$6.5 billion in 2018 but is projected to reach US$17.77b by 2025.

The trials are part of a three-year CRCNA project investigating the viability of five different spice crops - black sesame, fennel, kalonji, carroway and cumin.

Harvest of the four winter crop varieties will begin later this month with the results to be released later this year.

Spice crops are being tested due to the booming global demand and increasing value of the international spice trade. The global black sesame crop was valued at US$6.5 billion in 2018 but is projected to reach US$17.77b by 2025.

The Australian market is following this global trend, importing increasing amounts of both raw sesame seeds and value-added sesame products. In 2016 Australia imported 6740t of sesame and current trends indicate domestic demand will reach 9800t in 2025.

Encouragingly some sites exceeded the highest standards for oil quality, which is set by the Japanese market at 46 per cent oil, with crops from Tully and Darwin both meeting this threshold for the premium market.

"The crop also produced significant biomass in the range of 3-10t/ha," A/P Bhattarai said. "This volume of biomass also creates an opportunity for value-adding, with biomass waste able to be used for briquettes and harvesting of antioxidants."

The next stage of research involves on-farm verification of selected genotypes from the first year for evaluation of the adaptability of the variety to local farming conditions.

"While the early results are encouraging, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed for full fledged production including weed control, optimisation of mechanical harvesting, and providing robust agronomic information especially concerning optimum planting times and density of planting on the different regions and density of planting," Associate Professor Bhattarai said.

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