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American Sesame Growers Association


Close up image of a sesame flower

Some Quick Facts About Sesame

Now that sesame varieties have been developed that can be mechanically harvested, sesame has returned to the United States as a viable, alternative crop. Other sesame production in the world is highly labor intensive and, therefore, restricted to less developed countries.

  • Sesame is a row crop grown as a rotation crop for cotton, corn, wheat and peanuts in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

  • It is a lower risk crop and input costs are lower compared with crops with which sesame rotates.
  • The sesame plant conditions the soil and reduces cotton root rot and root knot nematodes, thus lowering the risk and increasing the yields on subsequent cotton crops.

  • Sesame is also a program crop on which farmers can earn an adequate to good return without dependence on program payments.

  • It is drought tolerant, requiring 1/4 the water for corn, 1/3 the water for sorghum and 1/2 the water for cotton. Approximately 90 percent of sesame grown in the United States is dryland and 10 percent has supplemental irrigation.

  • It uses common farming practices, including no-till practices, and standard farming and grain handling equipment.

  • Sesame does not compete with other U.S. oilseed crops or vegetable oils, as it is a staple in "ethnic cuisines" requiring specific flavors.

  • Farmers are able to contract to sell their entire crop at harvest at a price agreed upon before planting, thus eliminating their market risk.

  • There is an opportunity to replace $100 million of U.S. imports and to participate in a "new" $ 1 billion export market. China has moved from the major exporter to the major importer.

  • A twenty percent share of today's traded world market would equate to approximately 750,000 acres of U.S. sesame production.
  • Traditionally annual U.S. production has been approximately 2,500 tons on 10,000 acres with 60 to 70 farmers. In 2009 and 2010, in anticipation of crop insurance, production inreased to over 11,000 tons.

  • The Risk Management Agency of USDA has announced and has made available an insurance product for an Actual Production History Multiple Peril Crop Insurance pilot program for non-dehiscent varieties of sesame grown under contract. This is essential for ASGA to reach our goal of 300,000 acres by CY 2013.

  • Sesame provides farmers with an additional opportunity and only replaces other insured crops in a rotation program. Therefore, there is no additional operating cost to RMA to provide MPCI for sesame.