Sesame / Gingelly farming Guide to Profit

India used to be one of the Largest producers of sesame. Today it stands between 3rd and 4th position in production. Sesame is a labour intensive crop. While the crop itself requires minimum labour, the harvesting is the most labour intensive part. There is little water requirements for this crop and its is not tolerant to waterlogging. It cannot be cultivated during monsoons and the best time to cultivate the crop is during spring. The transition of winter to summer period is the best time for sesame in most parts of india.

Sesame is cultivated almost everywhere in india. Gujarat, west Bengal, Karnataka, Rajasthan Tamil nadu and madhya pradesh are prime sesame producing states. Gujarat leads the sesame cultivation contributing to approximately 22% of the total production. 

Cultivation of Sesame

Sesame is a 90-100 Day crop. From sowing to harvesting, the entire cycle takes less than 4 months. This is a perfect crop for the dry spells, usually between october and June. the perfect climatic conditions for sesame vary from tate to state. For tamil nadu and west bengal, february to June is the best time for sesame. For gujarat, its between october and January. Cultivating sesame requires you to know the right season for cultivating them. Monsoon or rains should be minimal for Sesame cultivation and this is important specially when its harvesting time. Summer with no rains at all is recommended during harvesting period. This enables the plants to shed its leaves and dry out just before harvest.

Varieties of Sesame. 

Sesame varieties are key to success for farmers. Every state has their own variety of sesame which is tested by agriculture universities. These varieties are feasible for the climatic conditions of the region. For instance the tamil nadu weather recommends TMV 3, TMV 4, TMV 6, TMV 7, CO 1, VRI (SV) 1, SVPR 1, VRI (SV) 2 and some more. Each of these varieties have a different set of characteristics and requirements. Some are white sesame while others are brown and black. Some have high yield and others are a bit less. The time from sowing to harvest also varies from variety to variety. The usual time period is between 80-110 days. The oil content in each variety varies too. They may vary from 30% to 45% oil content depending on the variety. 

Price for sesame depends on the quality of the sesame itself. Oil being the primary by product of sesame, with less than 40% of sesame used directly for culinary purposes, the oil content determines how the prices may vary depending on the variety. 

Average price of sesame in the market is approximately 7500 Rs- 11000 per quintal and upwards. This could easily vary 1.5 Lakh per acre on the higher side with a bumper crop. Average of 700 Quintals is usually noted.

Season and climate

Sesame accommodates to higher temperatures but to high or too low is bad for sesame. You are looking at 25-35 degree . anything lower than 25 degree in temperature will reduce yield and more than 35 degree will reduce the oil content. Almost all parts of india is suitable for sesame except for kashmir and cold areas. Rajasthan and gujarat has extremely high weather conditions during summer and winters. Chose the right time for planting sesame in areas where weather conditions are extreme. Also ensure that the plants are free from water logging. light Rains are tolerated during the first few weeks and may be even beneficial. Rains during harvest period will result in poor harvest and fungal problems in Sesame. Ensure that the harvest time is always near the warmer period of the weather.


Some of the varieties with the yield have been published by the Directorate of Oilseed Development, India. The Savitri variety is notably the one with the highest yield and is suitable for West Bengal region. An average yield between 1200 -1500 kg per hectare is recorded with this variety with an oil content of up to 52%. The crop takes approximately 84 days to harvest. A list of all varieties and the details by state are available on the respective websites.

  1. Tilottama: Tilottama is a high-yielding variety of sesame with bold seed size. It is known for its excellent oil content and is preferred for oil extraction purposes.
  2. Tilak: Tilak is a traditional Indian variety of sesame that is widely grown across the country. It has medium-sized seeds and is valued for its good oil quality.
  3. RT-43: RT-43 is a hybrid variety of sesame developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). It is known for its uniform growth and good resistance to pests and diseases.
  4. VRI-1: VRI-1 is another hybrid variety with a high oil content and good adaptability to different agro-climatic conditions.
  5. Rama: Rama is a white-seeded variety of sesame and is popularly used in confectionery and baking due to its mild and nutty flavor.
  6. Makam: Makam is a black-seeded variety of sesame, known for its bold seeds and high oil content. It is often used for oil extraction.
  7. TS-3: TS-3 is a dwarf variety of sesame with a short duration of around 90-100 days. It is suitable for areas with limited water availability.
  8. Prachi: Prachi is a semi-spreading variety with a medium duration. It is known for its high yield potential and resistance to diseases.
  9. Nirmala: Nirmala is a high-yielding variety with good resistance to lodging and drought conditions.
  10. RT-123: RT-123 is a hybrid sesame variety with good seed retention and high productivity.
  11. RT-349: RT-349 is another popular hybrid variety with resistance to pests and diseases.

Directorate of Oilseed Development :

Tamil Nadu :


Sesame cultivation prefers a near neutral soil condition. A ph level between 5.5 and 8 is tolerated. Soil should be free from water logging and there should be no issues of stagnant water. Sesame is very sensitive to water logging and plants are susceptible to fungal infections and rotting very quickly with water logging. 

Also note that rainfed crops yield lower than irrigated crops.

Seed rate

A seed rate of 5 KG per hectare is recommended by various agricultural universities including the TNAU. While a few farmers have found better success with lower seed rate, these have not been tested and recorded with reason of science. Seed rates vary a lot if sown or taking up raised row approach. 


Depending on the landscaping, the sowing varies . for raised beds, the sowing is done on both sides of the bed at a distance of 30 centimeters. 8-10 seeds are sown at a distance f 30 cm per plant which is thinned out after 2 weeks of germination to reduce competition. For open farm like rice fields, its sown  with 50 KG of soil mixed with 5 kg of seed and distributed over the field. For rice fields which have the right humidity, sowing is done immediately after ploughing and levelled after sowing. The moisture in the soil should be enough to help with the germination of sesame. The sesame plants are later thinned out manually after the second week. A spacing of 30 centimeter between plants are maintained.

Manuring & Fertilizer

12.5 Tonne of Compost or Coir Pith Compost is applied before the first plough. 

23:13:13 NPK application is practiced on Rain fed crops and 35:23:23 NPK on Irrigated crops. 

Manganese is a common deficiency in Sesame. Application of 5 KG of manganese per hectare is recommended before sowing 

Application of Zinc , 5KG per hectare is recommended after soil test and in case of zinc deficiency. Application is usually done after sowing


Sesame , specially in irrigated crops should be minimal. Sowing will require one irrigation.The second irrigation is after 1 week and is often referred to as life giving irrigation. Irrigation is not required after the first week till flowering. The flowering stage is crucial and will require irrigation. Your yield depends on this one or two irrigations during flowering. During pod setting, one or 2 irrigation is practiced depending on your area. After pod setting, there is no irrigation thereafter. The total irrigation for the sesame crop is 4-5 in the course of 3 months. Sesame is drought tolerant and can sustain itself with minimal water. 

Intercultural and intercropping

Sesame is very sensitive to weed growth and competition. The first 15 days should be crucial and weeding should be practiced on the 15th -20th day. Clearing the field of any weeds is crucial for the growth of sesame. Inter cropping of sesame with various other crops have been practiced since a long time. Common crops which are grown with sesame include urad, cotton, pearl millet, ground nut, Green gram, Pigeon pea and black gram.  Practice of intercropping and the combination plant is different to each state and the variety of sesame planted.

Sesame Cultivation profit.

The profit for sesame cultivation varies drastically depending on the variety of seeds, location and the season. Some varieties of the seeds can produce up to 1.5 tonnes per hectare while others produce only half of it. An average of 800 Quintals per hectare can be expected for sesame. Some areas do yield a bit lower than 800 quintals per hectare. Price for sesame averages between 80 Rs per KG to 115 rs per kg. An average price of 100 can be considered in this case. The biggest expense is in harvesting sesame. Sesame cultivation in india does not implement any mechanization. There are no harvesters used and the only equipment or machinery used is the tractor. With this limitation alone, Man power and labour is one of the biggest expense for sesame cultivation. With variation of labour cost differing from state to state, and often drastically, its almost impossible to put a final figure to the cultivation costs. You will surely need to adjust the labour cost, yield per acre based on the variety based on the season you sow the sesame seeds. This will give you a ballpark figure of what you can earn. The up side to sesame cultivation is the season and the low investment when it comes to irrigation and maintenance. 

Seed CostRs 2000
Land Preparation4000-15000
Weeding & Thinning15000
Fertilizers & Pesticieds15000
Labour for harvesting40000
Other costs5000
TotalRs. 83000-94000


Cost per QuintalRs10000
Yield per hectare7 Quintal
Total Income70000

The above cost is calculated based on the labour in kerala which approximates to rs.300 per day. Costs for labour vary in different states. Labour in Uttar pradesh and West bengal are much lower and nearly half that . The production of sesame in these areas are far more profitable and the profit can be calculated at approximately 50,000rs per acre . Note that this is due to the weather condition which is very well suited for sesame, the seed which are just right for the location and also the season of planting . 50,000 Per hectare during the dry spells when nothing else can be efficiently grown is a bonus for the farmers. 

Unfortunately, this is not the case with all states. States like kerala have a higher labour cost and are not perfectly suitable for sesame crops. Moreover, there are a lot of alternatives which are higher in profit when its compared to sesame. 

This is not to say that it cannot be farmed or its not profitable. Sesame is highly profitable. You can earn an extra 50,000 Rs per hectare during the dry spell as a third crop even in kerala. The seeds can be stored for up to a year, which makes it feasible to sell the produce when the price is right. Chances of losing a lot of money is even lesser if you time your sale appropriately.

States with High Sesame Cultivation in India

  1. Gujarat: The state of Gujarat, especially the regions of Saurashtra and North Gujarat, is one of the leading producers of sesame in India. The favorable climate and well-draining soils in these areas are ideal for sesame cultivation.
  2. Rajasthan: In Rajasthan, sesame cultivation is prevalent in the districts of Jodhpur, Barmer, and Bikaner. The semi-arid climate of these regions allows for successful sesame farming.
  3. Madhya Pradesh: Several districts in Madhya Pradesh, including Vidisha, Sagar, and Bhopal, are known for sesame cultivation. The black soils and moderate climate favor the growth of sesame plants.
  4. Uttar Pradesh: Eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, such as Allahabad, Varanasi, and Gorakhpur, are significant sesame-producing regions. The fertile alluvial soils in these areas support good sesame yields.
  5. West Bengal: In West Bengal, the districts of Bardhaman, Murshidabad, and Malda have extensive sesame cultivation due to suitable climatic conditions and soil types.
  6. Andhra Pradesh: The regions of Kurnool, Anantapur, and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh are important contributors to sesame production in the country.
  7. Tamil Nadu: In Tamil Nadu, sesame cultivation is prominent in districts like Salem, Namakkal, and Erode, known for their favorable agro-climatic conditions.
  8. Karnataka: The districts of Bijapur, Bagalkot, and Belgaum in Karnataka are known for sesame cultivation, benefiting from the state’s diverse climate zones.
  9. Telangana: In Telangana, sesame is cultivated in districts like Nizamabad and Medak, where the climate is suitable for its growth.
  10. Maharashtra: Some regions of Maharashtra, including Jalgaon and Nanded, are also involved in sesame cultivation.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on Sesame Cultivation in India

Q: What are the major regions for sesame cultivation in India?

A: Sesame cultivation in India is practiced in various regions across the country. Some of the major sesame-growing states include Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, and Maharashtra.

Q: What is the ideal climate for sesame cultivation?

A: Sesame thrives in warm and tropical climates. It requires temperatures between 25°C to 30°C for optimal growth. The crop is well-suited to semi-arid regions with moderate rainfall and well-distributed heat.

Q: What type of soil is best for sesame cultivation?

A: Sesame prefers well-draining soils with good fertility. Sandy loam, clay loam, and alluvial soils are suitable for sesame cultivation. The soil should have a pH level ranging from 6 to 7 for better productivity.

Q: When is the best time to sow sesame seeds?

A: The ideal time for sowing sesame seeds is during the monsoon or the beginning of the summer season. Sowing should be done when the soil has warmed up, and the risk of frost has passed.

Q: How often should sesame crops be irrigated?

A: Sesame requires regular and consistent irrigation during its initial growth stages. Once established, the crop can tolerate some water stress. However, providing water during critical growth phases ensures better yields.

Q: Is sesame a drought-resistant crop?

A: Yes, sesame is known for its drought tolerance. It can withstand periods of water scarcity and continues to grow in semi-arid conditions.

Q: What are the common pests and diseases that affect sesame crops?

A: Some common pests that affect sesame crops are jassids, aphids, and whiteflies. Diseases like powdery mildew and leaf spot can also impact the crop. Regular monitoring and timely application of appropriate pesticides can help manage these issues.

Q: What are the primary uses of sesame crops in India?

A: Sesame has various uses in India. The seeds are used for oil extraction, and sesame oil is widely used in cooking. Sesame seeds are also used in confectionery, bakery products, and as a garnish in many dishes.

Q: How long does it take for sesame plants to mature and be ready for harvest?

A: The time for sesame plants to mature and be ready for harvest varies depending on the variety and growing conditions. Generally, sesame plants take around 90 to 120 days from sowing to harvest.

Q: What are the post-harvest practices for sesame crops?

A: After harvest, sesame plants should be left in the field to dry for a few days. The seeds are then separated from the dried plants using threshing and winnowing techniques. Proper storage in a cool and dry place is essential to maintain seed quality.