What is in this article?:
- Sesame crop looking to find a home in lower Southeast
- Boost seen in sesame acres
- Alabama growers are discovering that sesame is a low-input fit on their farms.
- Farmers contracted to grow a record 7,500 acres of sesame in the state in 2013.
- Variable costs of production for sesame are from $100 to $130 per acre.
SESAME ACREAGE IN Alabama hit a record 7,500 acres in 2013. Shown are, left to right, Ben Ingram, sesame contract agronomist, and Harris Sistrunk, east Alabama farmer.
East Alabama farmer Harris Sistrunk has successfully grown cotton and peanuts in the past, but now he’s looking for crops that require lower inputs, and sesame might just fit the bill.
“This will be our second year for growing sesame, and we’re hoping to plant about 180 acres,” he says. “This past year, we planted nearly 550 acres, and I was pleased with the results.”
While there were a few morningglory and other weed issues, Sistrunk averaged about 1,235 pounds of sesame per acre in 2013, and that’s counting more than 50 acres that were drowned out by excessive rainfall.
“The weather in 2013 made us a lot of sesame and took out some. It was all under irrigation, but we only watered it to get the crop up. It was a wet year, so we never irrigated it again.”
Sistrunk says he intended to grow more sesame this year, but certain chemical restrictions prevent him from planting it in places on his farm for 12 to 18 months.
“This year, they’re paying me 50 cents per pound for irrigated sesame, and I’m following wheat. I’d rather plant it full season, but that was the only place I could put it,” he says.
In 2013, Sistrunk grew sesame, corn and wheat. This year, in addition to sesame, he’ll grow “wall-to-wall” soybeans. It’s a change from his traditional crop mix.
“Last year, we went with crops with lower inputs. I haven’t grown peanuts or cotton in a while because of the costs. When you have to make an above-average yield to break even, it’s just not worth it. I usually make above-average yields, but if you have to do that to break even, it’ll catch up with you.”
Sistrunk had friends who grew sesame, and they liked it enough to try it again. “It fit really well into our rotation and it made us money. We’re just trying to stick with low-input crops that’ll make us fairly decent profits,” he says.