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a genus of annual and perennial herbaceous plants of the family Pedaliaceae. There are approximately 35 species, growing predominantly in tropical and subtropical Africa. The most widely cultivated species is sesame (Sesamum indicum), which is divided into two subspecies: ssb bicarpellatum (the most common) and ssb quadricarpellatium. The plant is 1–2 m tall and has an erect, branching stem covered with glandular hairs. The leaves are lanceolate or lobed. The large flowers, which measure up to 4 cm wide, are pink, violet, or white; they are axillary and on short peduncles. The fruit is a capsule, which measures 3–4 cm long and has at least two to four carpels, which, upon maturing, dehisce and scatter the seeds (if the capsule has no septa). One thousand seeds weigh between 2 and 5 g.
The Sesamum are photophilic and thermophilic. The seeds sprout at 18°-20°C; the optimum temperature for growth and development is about 25°C. The plants are also hygrophilous, particularly during the period from sowing to blossoming. The growing period is generally from 80 to 150 days, sometimes longer. The plants require most of their nutritive substances, about 70 percent, during flowering and later. They grow best in fine-textured alluvial soils.
Sesame seeds contain 50 to 65 percent oil, which is used in food, in the confectionery, canning, and margarine industries, in medicine, and for industrial purposes. The oil cake is a valuable fodder.
Native to Africa, plants of the genus Sesamum have been cultivated in Ethiopia, Egypt, Greece, Iran, India, Middle Asia, and the Caucasus for a long time. The worldwide planting area of Sesamum is 6.4 million hectares (ha), found principally in India, the Sudan, Burma, and Mexico; in 1971 the total harvest of seeds was 2.1 million tons. In the USSR, sesame is cultivated in small areas in Turkmenia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Krasnodar Krai; the average seed harvest is 2.5–3.5 centners per ha (on the leading farms, up to 15 centners per ha). The best varieties are Kubanets 55, Tashkent 112, and Serakh 470. Sesame is planted in rotated fields, after winter wheat, cereals, legumes, and corn. Fertilization consists of 90 kg/ha NPK or 10 tons/ha of manure and 30 kg/ha NPK. Sesame is sown in widely spaced rows (45, 60, or 70 cm between rows) when the soil is warmed to 18°-20°C. The seeds are sown at a rate of 6–8 kg/ha, at a depth of 3–4 cm. In irrigated regions sesame is irrigated at a rate of 800–1000 m3/ha. It is harvested when the lower capsules turn brown.
REFERENCESMinkevich, I. A., and V. E. Borkovskii. Maslichnye kul’tury, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Rukovodstvopo selektsii isemenovodstvu maslichnykh kul’tur. Under the general editorship of V. S. Pustovoit. Moscow, 1967.
D. P. UMEN