- Discussion continues about the exact origin of sesame. It is often asserted that sesame has its origin in Africa and spread early through West Asia, China and Japan, which themselves became secondary centers of diversity. -With the exception of Sesamum prostratum Retz., all the wild Sesamum species are found in Africa. This variability and the importance of sesame in the economies of several African countries could further justify the African continent to be the ultimate centre of origin.
-Commercial varieties of sesame require 90 to 120 frost free days. Daytime temperatures of 77°F to 80°F are optimal; below 68°F, growth is reduced, and at 50°F germination and growth is inhibited.
-Sesame is very drought-tolerant, due in part to an extensive root system. However, it requires adequate moisture for germination and early growth and a minimum rainfall of 20 to 26 in. per season is necessary for reasonable yields.
-Moisture levels before planting and flowering have the greatest impact on yield. Sesame is intolerant of water-logging.
-Sesame is adaptable to many soil types, but it thrives best on well-drained, fertile soils of medium texture and neutral pH. Sesame, which has an extensively branched feeder root system, appears to improve soil structure. Sesame has a very low salt tolerance and cannot tolerate wet conditions.
-Sesame seeds (approximately 50% oil and 25% protein) are used in baking, candy making, and other food industries.
-Oil from the seed is used in cooking and salad oils and margarine, and contains about 47% oleic and 39% linoleic acid. Sesame oil and foods fried in sesame oil have a long shelf life because the oil contains an antioxidant called sesamol. The oil can be used in the manufacture of soaps, paints, perfumes, pharmaceuticals and insecticides. Sesame meal, left after the oil is pressed from the seed, is an excellent high-protein (34 to 50%) feed for poultry and livestock.
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