Spicing up the north

Region: Greater Darwin, Katherine Region | Topic: Horticulture
May 2021

Black sesame crop

Caption: Black sesame crop at Coastal Plains Research Farm, March 2021

This wet season has seen an expansion of the black sesame trials at Katherine Research Station (KRS) and Coastal Plains Research Farms (CPRF). As part of the collaborative Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), Central Queensland University-led project ‘spicing up the north’, four varieties of black sesame were trialled at locations across northern Australia in 2020. This year the top two performing varieties have been planted on a larger (0.5 ha) scale at each site.

The 2019-20 small crop trial showed that crop duration for black sesame is about 90 to 120 days from planting to harvest, with the Northern Territory locations having a shorter growing season than most Queensland grown crops. The plant height was 150 to 200cm with the position of the first capsule 60 to 150cm from the ground.

The hand-harvested seed yield of the four varieties across each of the trial locations, ranged from 1.37 to 3.04 t/ha, with the highest seed yield recorded in Biloela followed by Rockhampton, Katherine, Ayr, Darwin and Tully. This yield is significantly higher than the global average of 554 kg/ha. However, it is important to bear in mind this is only one year’s data and greater losses of seed may occur during mechanical harvesting. The crop produced significant biomass in the range of 3-10 t/ha. This volume of biomass creates an opportunity for value-adding, with biomass waste being able to be used for briquettes and harvesting of antioxidants.

This season will be looking at crop performance on a larger scale, grown in a rain-fed system. Multiple years’ worth of data is critical for judging the performance of sesame in rain-fed systems when environmental conditions vary from year to year.

More information:

For more information on this project, including the market analysis and technical reports visit the CRCNA’s spicing up the north webpage.

For information on the CPRF or KRS trial contact Chelsea Moore, Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT) Agriculture Branch on 08 8999 2323.

To view the 2020 Agriculture webinar with project lead Associate Professor Surya Bhattarai and Tieneke Trotter discussing the 2020 results visit our DITT YouTube video.

For growers interested in participating in the project in 2022, contact Tieneke Trotter by email t.trotter@cqu.edu.au.

Back to NT Rural Review - May 2021