Sowing the sesame seeds of success in Rocky fields
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.”
NEW CROP: Local farmer Peter Foxwell with Australia-first trials of black sesame at Alton Downs.
The black sesame seed crop up close. These buds are close to fruition.
Peter Foxwell has successfully grown sesame despite very dry conditions.