As Australian growers move towards adopting commercial sesame production, a critical first step is to evaluate new sesame genetics and develop management practices for these new varieties says AgriFutures Australia senior manager emerging industries Tom McCue.
Some of the new imported varieties are in early stages of evaluation but are showing significant yield improvement and increased gross margin returns for growers.
"Currently, Australia imports 100 per cent of its sesame seed and sesame oil," Mr McCue said.
"The value of these combined sesame products imported into Australia was in excess of $26.5 million in 2016 and demand has only been increasing.
"Australia is well positioned to take advantage of new, high-quality shatterproof white and black sesame varieties.
"By partnering with global companies Equinom and AgriVentis Technologies we hope to advance the time from research to large-scale production.
"With the right management practices, we can take advantage of high-yielding, non-shattering seed technology to capture market share and develop a profitable and market ready Australian sesame industry."
Savannah Ag Consulting, through Principal Agronomy Consultant, Tony Matchett, is supporting the on-ground variety evaluation and agronomic support.
"Sesame production in Australia has the potential to be a high-value summer cropping alternative for grain growers," Mr Matchett said.
"There is a big global market for sesame with the top importers being China, Japan and South Korea. These markets are discerning and looking for high-quality whole seed and oil."
"While it's only an emerging industry for Australia, two million tonnes of sesame are traded globally each year.
"The northern regions of Australia are prime candidates for sesame production as it's a heat and drought tolerant crop. "
He said there was opportunities for sesame in northern NSW and southern and central Queensland where it could be grown as a summer crop and tap into existing farming systems and infrastructure.
Due to ongoing drought conditions the project's sesame agronomy trials were planted under irrigation in four locations across Queensland and Western Australia between December 2019 and February 2020.
These trials are using new white sesame genetics from Equinom (Israel) and black sesame genetics from AgriVentis Technologies (Australia).
Savannah Ag Consulting is conducting herbicide screening trials on sesame crops to evaluate the options for weed control.
Funded by AgriFutures Australia's Emerging Industries Program, the project brings together expertise from partners Equinom, AgriVentis Technologies, Central Queensland University, University of Southern Queensland, Queensland Government and Northern Australia Crop Research Alliance.
The project is in its first phase and is expected to continue over three years.