Nav: Home

Sesame yields stable in drought conditions

September 18, 2019

Texas has a long history of growing cotton. It's a resilient crop, able to withstand big swings in temperature fairly well. However, growing cotton in the same fields year after year can be a bad idea. Nutrients can get depleted. Disease can lurk in the ground during the winter season, only to attack the following year. Thus, rotating cotton with other crops could be a better system.

Agronomists have been researching various alternative crops that will grow well in western Texas. This area is part of the Ogallala water aquifer, which has been hit extremely hard the past few decades by drought. Another crop, sorghum, grows well with low water availability, but the yield can be greatly affected by drought conditions.

Irish Lorraine B. Pabuayon, a researcher at Texas Tech University (TTU), is on the team looking at an alternative crop for west Texas: sesame.

Like cotton and sorghum, sesame is also a "low-input" crop. This means it does not need a great deal of water, something that vegetable crops, corn and wheat need regularly and in large quantities.

"When introducing new crops to a water-limited system, it is important for growers to justify the water requirements of the new crops," says Pabuayon. "Properly determining the water requirements of the crops is important. Management decisions for wise use of limited water resources requires understanding a crop's moisture requirements."

Pabuayon and the TTU team found that even under conditions that lowered sorghum and cotton yields, sesame performed well. This could be good news for west Texas farmers.

"Our results showed that sesame yields were not significantly altered under water-deficit conditions," says Pabuayon. "Sesame continued to have consistent yields, even when water-deficit conditions decreased sorghum's yield by 25% and cotton's yield by 40%."

Having another crop that has good market value and can grow well during drought could benefit west Texas farmers. According to Pabuayon, sesame seeds are commonly used for food consumption and other culinary uses. The seeds are high in fat and are a good source of protein. Sesame is a major source of cooking oil. The remaining parts of sesame, after oil extraction, are good sources of livestock feed. Sesame has uses in the biodiesel industry, and even in cosmetics. This means there are multiple markets for the tiny seeds.

"Provided that the market price of sesame can support current yields, the results are favorable for low-input sesame production in west Texas," says Pabuayon. "However, the relatively low yields of sesame (per acre, compared to cotton and sorghum) suggest opportunities for additional genetic advancement. Currently, sesame varieties available for Texas are well-suited as an alternative crop for water-limited crop production systems.
-end-
This research was recently published in Crop Science. This work was funded by High Plains Underground Water Conservation District.

American Society of Agronomy

Related Drought Articles:

What does drought mean for endangered California salmon?
Droughts threatens California's endangered salmon population -- but pools that serve as drought refuges could make the difference between life and death for these vulnerable fish.
With shrinking snowpack, drought predictability melting away
New research from CU Boulder suggests that during the 21st century, our ability to predict drought using snow will literally melt away.
An evapotranspiration deficit drought index to detect drought impacts on ecosystems
The difference between actual and potential evapotranspiration, technically termed a standardized evapotranspiration deficit drought index (SEDI), can more sensitively capture the biological changes of ecosystems in response to the dynamics of drought intensity, compared with indices based on precipitation and temperature.
Sesame yields stable in drought conditions
Research shows adding sesame to cotton-sorghum crop rotations is possible in west Texas
Mapping the effects of drought on vulnerable populations
The greater frequency of droughts, combined with underlying economic, social, and environmental risks means that dry spells have an increasingly destructive impact on vulnerable populations, and particularly on children in the developing world.
Asia's glaciers provide buffer against drought
A new study to assess the contribution that Asia's high mountain glaciers make to relieving water stress in the region is published this week (May 29, 2019) in the journal Nature.
How severe drought influences ozone pollution
From 2011 to 2015, California experienced its worst drought on record, with a parching combination of high temperatures and low precipitation.
A faster, more accurate way to monitor drought
A new drought monitoring method developed at Duke University allows scientists to identify the onset of drought sooner, meaning conservation or remediation measures could be put into place sooner.
How does the Amazon rain forest cope with drought?
The Amazon rain forest isn't necessarily a place that many would associate with a drought, yet prolonged dry spells are projected to become more prevalent and severe because of climate change.
Trees change inside as drought persists
James Cook University scientists in Australia have found that trees change their anatomy in response to prolonged drought.
More Drought News and Drought Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.