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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:


Latin Name: Sesamum indicum L

Plant Family: Pedaliaceae

Close Relatives: N/A

Uses and Markets: Culinary (both whole seeds and seed oil); industrial (oil can be used in the manufacture of paints and insecticides); personal care product and medicinal (oil can be used in the manufacture of soaps, perfumes and pharmaceuticals)

Stand of sesame plants Flowering sesame plants Sesame plant with flowers and developing seed capsules Developing sesame seed capsulesSeeds in mature, dry capsules (photo credit: rodho, seeds (photo credit: Elena Schweitzer,
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Non shattering (indehiscent) varieties should be planted to minimize yield losses, but both dehiscent and indehiscent varieties are available.

Propagation method


Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Several weeks after last frost.  Seed at 2-5 kg/ha at a depth of 2.5-4 cm.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing


Between row spacing

2 kg/ha at 100 cm to 5 kg/ha at 19 cm.

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.  Research from the U.S. indicates 40-60 kg/ha N, 35 kg/ha P and 100 kg/ha K to be sufficient for good seed yield.  Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Medium to light well-drained soils.

Soil pH

Acidic to alkaline, pH 5-8.

Special requirements for growth habit

Shallow planting minimizes emergence time, but seed needs to be planted into a firm, moist seedbed.

Optimal Temperature Range

Temperate climate, 25-27˚C.

Temperature sensitivity

Cold sensitive

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation usually not required.  Optimal yields with 50-66 cm rainfall per season.

Days to harvest

Crop requires 90-120 frost free days to mature, with another 30 days to dry down on the plant.  The small size and flat shape of sesame limit air movement when in bins, making it challenging to dry using conventional grain dryers. . Seed should be harvested as dry as possible, and stored at a moisture of 6% or less.  At higher moisture contents, seed can quickly heat up causing the oil to become rancid.

Specialized equipment



Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest. 

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades in Canada, but there is a U.S. standard grade.

Additional Harvest Notes

Shattering varieties are usually swathed green, tied in shocks and left to dry for 2 weeks before threshing.  Non-shattering varieties can be directly combined.  Crop moisture should be <6% before harvesting as sesame seed is not easy to dry once combined.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing


Storage Conditions:

Freezing damages seed and reduces marketability.

Relative humidity (RH): N/A

Temperature (°C): 20˚C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: Up to 5 years

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

None identified in Ontario to date.

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Aphids, whiteflies, foliage feeding caterpillars (e.g. bollworm, cabbage looper, etc.),

Diseases: Fusarium wilt, Rhizoctonia wilts and damping off, root rots (Helminthosporium sesame, Thielaviopsis basicola), Verticillium wilt, charcoal rot, Phytophthora crown and root rot, fungal leaf spots (e.g. Alternaria, Cercospora, Cercoseptoria), bacterial leaf blights, powdery mildew

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: n/a – limited production in Ontario to date. Early season weed control is very important to achieving maximal yields. This crop is in the new Crop Group 20: Oilseeds Group and subgroup 20 A: Rapeseed Subgroup., For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile



  1. Langham, D.R., J. Riney, G. Smith and T. Wiemers.  2008.  Sesame harvest guide.  SESACO. 
  2. Oplinger, E.S., D.H. Putnam, A.R. Kaminski, C.V. Hanson, E.A. Oelke, E.E. Shculte, and J.D. Doll.  1990.  Sesame.  Alternative Field Crops Manual. 
  3. SESACO. 2012.  Sesame producer guide
  4. Smith, D.T., W.J. Grichar and A.A. McCallum.  2000.  Crop profile for sesame in United States.  North Central IPM Center Crop Profile.