Sarah Carte works for her father’s farming operation, Dasher Farms, in Suwannee County. The farm is known for processing small grains in a seed processing plant on the property and growing hydroponic herbs and vegetables.
To further diversify their business, they began growing sesame three years ago.
“We started growing sesame because it fit our small grains operation,” Carte said. “And it is nematode resistant, which makes it a great option to rotate with peanuts.”
Researchers at UF/IFAS have been studying the feasibility of sesame production in north Florida since 2011. Farmers in the area were looking for a rotation crop that could tolerate the Florida heat and be machine harvested.
“Aside from drought tolerance, sesame offers other benefits, pollinator diversity and the potential to be an economically beneficial rotational crop in North Florida, where crop options are sometimes limited,” said Diane Rowland, University of Florida Agronomy Department crop physiologist.
The research has helped north Florida Extension agents and growers understand the sesame plant better. This increased knowledge has led to more growers, like the Dasher family, giving sesame a chance and finding out it can a viable crop for that area.
“There are still many questions to answer when it comes to sesame production, particularly in regards to weed control and possible disease pressure,” Rowland stated. “But there is a potential for sesame production in Florida, particularly in areas where rotational options are limited.”