Sow­ing the sesame seeds of suc­cess in Rocky fields

The Morning Bulletin - - NEWS - VANESSA JAR­RETT Vanessa.Jar­rett@cap­news.com.au

SESAME seed. You nor­mally see it in oils, bread rolls and stir-fry; but what about black sesame seeds? And even putting it in ice-cream?

Work­ing in part­ner­ship with CQUniver­sity re­searchers and seed tech­nol­ogy com­pany AgriVen­tis Tech­nol­ogy, farmer Peter Foxwell has sowed the first black sesame seed crop.

Cropped on his prop­erty at Al­ton Downs, it is the first large-scale com­mer­cial trial of the condi­ment in Aus­tralia.

“It’s a cul­mi­na­tion of a lot of hard work for us,” Peter said yes­ter­day.

“Planted at the begin­ning of Fe­bru­ary and we are look­ing in harvesting in two or three weeks.

“It’s been a great crop to try, cer­tainly new to our area and to our farm.

“I’ve cer­tainly learnt a lot.” It is also the first com­mer­cial plant­ing of black sesame seed in Aus­tralia in more than 10 years – catch­ing the eye of many neigh­bours and friends.

“A lot of peo­ple stop. A lot of peo­ple see me in town and ask what am I grow­ing,” Peter said.

“There is al­ways some­thing new here, we like tri­alling dif­fer­ent things.

“Sesame par­tic­u­larly has shown more prom­ise than any­thing else we have grown.

“There are al­ways chal­lenges, some less suc­cess­ful than oth­ers. We have tried some dry land rice which grew quite well over three sea­sons.

“We tried Ste­via over 20 years ago with the univer­sity so it has been a long re­la­tion­ship with the uni tri­alling crops.

“I had never heard of black sesame and I thought, why not? We will give any­thing a go and we have and it’s worked out.”

The lat­est data shows Aus­tralia im­ports 94 per cent of spices and condi­ments for the do­mes­tic mar­ket, in­clud­ing 100 per cent of black sesame.

Peter said this im­port data gives the crop a “huge po­ten­tial”.

“That alone would be enough to main­tain this farm but across the re­gion there is a tremen­dous de­mand for Aus­tralian, clean prod­uct,” he said.

As it is still early days, it is not known what the crop is worth com­mer­cially yet, al­though it is pre­dicted to be a worth a fair price.

“Whether it is black sesame or any­thing in Asia they are chas­ing high qual­ity and that’s what we are known for in Aus­tralia,” Peter said.

“The eat­ing qual­i­ties for the seed and the oil for health pur­poses is sec­ond to none.”

In plant­ing the crop, it was done us­ing “con­ven­tional ma­chin­ery” used nor­mally to plant cot­ton or corn, sown about an inch deep in moist soil.

“We watch it grow for the next three months, we con­trol weeds, hope no in­sects have been into it and hope­fully there is a har­vest at the end,” Peter said.

It has been “ter­ri­bly dry” since the crop was planted.

“It’s sur­prised me, it per­formed re­ally, re­ally well un­der very try­ing con­di­tions,” Peter said. “It’s been one of the dri­est years we have ever had.

“We have some sesame that hasn’t had any ef­fec­tive rain since it was planted.”

And as for the ice cream, it did taste sur­pris­ingly de­li­cious.

“The black sesame ice cream is fan­tas­tic,” Peter said.

“The seed it­self eaten whole in a hand­ful is quite a dis­tinct flavour but as a top­ping, I think it’s great.”

Photo: Al­lan Reinikka ROK170518as­esame5

NEW CROP: Lo­cal farmer Peter Foxwell with Aus­tralia-first tri­als of black sesame at Al­ton Downs.

Photo: Ge­ordi Of­ford

The black sesame seed crop up close. Th­ese buds are close to fruition.

Photo: Ge­ordi Of­ford

Peter Foxwell has suc­cess­fully grown sesame de­spite very dry con­di­tions.

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