All sesame seed in the U.S. is produced by Sesaco and is distributed in the Delta through Dulaney Seed, Inc., Clarksdale, Miss. Wayne Dulaney, lead agronomist for Dulaney Seed, believes sesame carries a host of benefits for growers: “It’s a low-input crop. A farmer could gross $400 per acre from sesame. It has soil benefits as well, with a really long taproot that can extend 6 feet down. Sesame is almost like deep tillage and provides for looser soil. It’s a non-host to nematodes and a very good rotational crop for something like cotton. The water demand for sesame is very low and sesame makes a good fit following dryland wheat. It can be hit-or-miss to double-crop with soybeans due to rainfall, but sesame takes only half the amount of rain that soybeans do; it takes 20 percent less water than even grain sorghum. It’s got a very low moisture requirement. The two most drought-tolerant crops we have are grain sorghum and cotton — sesame takes less water than both.”

Sesame acreage is currently done on a contract basis. Producers sign up to plant a given amount of sesame. Sesaco sets a price — first price of 2013 was 42 cents per pound. Sesaco then buys every pound of sesame that comes off a contracted field at 42 cents per pound.

 

For photos of the Massey's sesame plantings, see Sesame spreading across farmland

 

“Potential yield is anywhere from 500 pounds to below 2,000 pounds per acre. That’s because it’s dryland and rainfall may determine the yield. It’s so new to the Mid-South that no one really knows what our yield potential is,” says Turner.

Transport at harvest is relatively simple compared with other grains. If a producer averages 1,000 pounds per acre, that equates to one truckload per 50 acres, and about 50-60 acres of cleared sesame per day. It’s not a high-volume crop like corn or soybeans. “Dulaney Seed will be our delivery point,” says Turner. “The Japanese said they want 1 million acres; the global demand is there.”

Condiment, baking ingredient, cooking oil or flavored oil — the market demands are endless. “What is amazing is going into the grocery store and looking at how many products contain sesame. There are companies that want to add sesame as a food ingredient in their product lines. But right now, there’s a three-month supply-and-demand gap that can’t be filled,” says Terry Dulaney, Dulaney Seed CEO.