Climate Information for Sesame Farming.
The crop requires a bit less than the average temperature range of India for its optimum growth. The range stays between 25°C to 30°C. However, the plant can still survive in a wider range of temperature than this. Temperatures less than 10°C along with frost and blizzard and more than 40°C with streams of hot air can pose harmful impacts on the crop and reduce the yield.
Sesame trees require a moist and humid climate with an evenly distributed annual rainfall of about 500 mm to 600 mm. However, Sesame trees can easily survive in rainfall lower than that. But, the trees are highly sensitive to water stagnation, and thus excessive rainfall with the absence of proper drainage leading to waterlogging may damage the roots of the plants. So, in case of high rainfall areas, construction of an excellent drainage system should be the priority of the farmers.
90 to 120 frost-free days are absolutely necessary for the optimum growth of the plants.
Suitable Soil for Sesame Farming.
Sesame trees can be cultivated in a wide range of soils. But, the best suitable soil conditions are well-drained and highly fertile light loamy soils with a high percentage of organic matter content and humus. Soils with poor drainage are not suitable at all. There should not be any water stagnation in the field. The optimum range of pH is from 5.5 to 8.0. pH value of 10 and more would result in very poor yields and would require appropriate soil treatments. For commercial cultivation of sesame, very heavy soils should be avoided at all costs. Sesame performs best on neutral or slightly acidic soils. Saline soils or too much sandy soils are not suitable for sesame cultivation.
Recommended sowing times for Sesame Farming.
Sesame plants are sown in the Kharif season of crops starting from the first rains of June-July. The sowing of sesame can be done in broadcast or line or both. However, for accommodating maximum plants in the smallest available land, line sowing is recommended. The seeds are so small that they should be first mixed with dry sand before sowing (1 part seed with 4 parts dry sand) and then the mixture should be spread eventually along the furrows to ensure even distribution. A depth of 3 cm should be maintained for sowing the seeds. Row to row spacing of 25 cm to 35 cm and plant to plant spacing of 10 cm to 20 cm should be maintained for ideal growth of the plants.
Land preparation for Sesame Farming.
Like all other commercial cultivations, an important task required for Sesame farming is proper land preparation. At least 2 to 3 thorough ploughings are necessary for making the field weed-free as well as for obtaining fine tilth of the soil. This would also level and clear the previously grown vegetation. The remaining soil clods after these ploughings should be crushed manually by country ploughs or other instruments since it favors germination. After opening up the topsoil, the land is left as it is for 15 days in the sun for sun-drying. This will ensure the elimination of the weeds and potential weed seeds. After that, about 25 tonnes of well-rotted farmyard manure (FYM) should be applied and spread evenly on the soil. Then, it should be properly mixed with the soil by means of further ploughing. After that, irrigation ridges, furrows and channels are created for further operations.
Sowing Method and tips for Sesame Farming.
The propagation of Sesame plants takes place only by means of seeds. No vegetative methods of propagation are practiced. The seeds are generally sown by means of line sowing method. The seeds should be sown deep into the soil (at least 3 cm) for proper nutrient availability and better chances of germination. However, in low lying regions affected by waterlogging, it should be done specifically on ridges.
For uniform sowing, the seeds should be first mixed with sand.
Seeds Requirement for Sesame Farming.
The seed rate of sesame plants depends on sowing methods and the cultivars as well. The seed rate can be tabulated in the following form for different conditions such as -
If sesame is cultivated as an intercrop in between the rows of the primary crop, then the seed rate should be 1 kg per hectare of land.
Seed Treatment for Castor Farming.
The seeds should be treated with Thiram at the rate of 3 grams per kilogram of seeds to prevent seed-borne diseases. For further precautions, just before sowing, the seeds should be soaked in 0.03% Agrimycin-100 solution for half an hour.
Irrigation methods for Sesame farming.
Light irrigation is provided to the plants just at the time of sowing and the subsequent irrigations are provided 7 days after the first irrigation. Sesame plants require a humid and moist climatic condition. So, depending upon the climate and water holding capacity of the soil, the frequency of the irrigation can be altered. There are three critical stages of sesame plants when the requirement of irrigation is a must. The first one is the pre-flowering stage when the irrigation should be provided 22-25 days after sowing. The second one is the flowering stage which sets in after about 35-45 days of sowing. The final stage is the pod setting stage during which very light one or two irrigations are required. The sprinkler method of irrigation should be applied for the purposes of saving water. In case of frequent rains in the rainy season, irrigation should be stopped completely for maintaining appropriate moisture conditions in the soil.
Mulching also retains good moisture conditions in the soil apart from preventing weed growth.
Fertilizer Requirements for Sesame farming.
25 tonnes of FYM or compost per hectare of land is added as a basal dose during the time of land preparation. Under appropriate soil moisture conditions, the rates of application of various fertilizers should be –
Phosphatic and potassic fertilizers should be applied at a depth of 8 cm before sowing the seeds. Besides those, micronutrients like Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Iron, Boron, etc. are also necessary. Fertilizers should be applied by means of automatic seed drills for added perfection.
Best Seed Varieties for Sesame seed Farming.
Some important commercial cultivars of sesame found in India include-
CO-1, TMV-3, SVPR-1, VRI (SV), and TMV-6.
Best Practices for Sesame Farming.
Weed control or intercultural operations – For Sesame plants, weedings should be carried out at an interval of 1 week. It is necessary for controlling unwanted weeds since they affect the overall yield of the plants. After every harvest, weeding should be carried out to prepare the field for the upcoming batch. The irrigated sesame crops require frequent weeding operations whereas rainfed crops require only once or twice in a month. Chemical weedicides like Thiobencarb at the rate of 2 kg per hectare or alachlor at the rate of 1 kg per hectare can also be used in these limits for better results. Mulching by means of 100-micron recyclable black polythene sheets is also a good alternative for controlling weeds. For organic mulching, 12 to 15 cm thick mulch should be used which will also facilitate penetration of water to the roots of the plants.
Harvesting – Sesames become ready for harvesting after 3 to 5 months from sowing. Harvesting can be initiated when the leaves, stems and the capsules begin to turn yellow. Over ripening of the crop will result in the shedding of seeds and thus loss of yield. The ripe sesame plants should be cut at the ground level and then stacked in a cool and dry place after sun drying for 8-10 days. The plants are then threshed and the seeds are collected which are then transported to the domestic as well as export markets for fresh consumption as a spice or for further processing in the oil industries.