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Diseases of Sesame

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Alternaria leaf spot(Alternaria sesame)


  • The pathogen attacks all parts of the plant at all stages.
  • Small, dark brown water soaked, round to irregular lesions, with concentric rings, 1-8 mm in diameter appear on the leaves and under excessive atmospheric and soil humidity the spot increases in size and number.
  • The lesions may also appear on the midrib and veins of the leaves.


  • Grow resistant/tolerant variety like Krishna.
  • Destruction of crop residues and weeds.
  • Early planting i.e. immediately after onset of monsoon.
  • Follow intercropping system of sesamum + sunflower (3:1).

Bacterial blight (Xanthomonas campestris pv. Sesami)


  • Plants of all stage are affected.
  • Water soaked, small and irregular spots are formed on the leaves which later increases and turn brown, under favourable conditions.
  • Leaves become dry and brittle, severely infected leaves defoliate.


  • Crop rotation.
  • Use resistant variety like T-58.
  • Early planting i.e. immediately after onset of monsoon.
  • Destruction of crop residues.
  • Seed treatment with hot water at 52 o C for 10 minutes.

Bacterial leaf spot (Pseudomonas syringae pv. Sesami)


  • Light brown angular spots with dark purple margin appear in the leaf veins.
  • Defoliation and death of plant may occur in severe leave and stem infection.
  • Sunken and shiny spots are appeared on the capsules.


  • Use white seeded early varieties.
  • Crop rotation.
  • Use resistant varieties.
  • Destruction of crop residues.
  • Seed treatment with hot water at 52o C for 10 minutes.

Cercospora leafspot / White spot (Cercospora sesami, C. sesamicola)


  • Disease appears as small, angular brown leaf spots of 3 mm diameter with gray centre and dark margin delimited by veins.
  • In severity of the disease defoliation occurs.
  • Under favourable conditions, the disease spreads to leaf petiole, stem and capsules producing linear dark coloured deep seated lesions.


  • Grow resistant/tolerant variety like TKG-21.
  • Early planting i.e. immediately after onset of monsoon.
  • Follow intercropping system of sesamum + pearl millet (3:1).
  • Destruction of plant debris.

Corynespora blight (Corynespora cassiicola)


  • On leaves purple brown specks which develop into large spots.
  • Infected leaves curl and defoliate.
  • On stem, purple brown elongated lesions appears.


  • Destruction of weed and crop residues.
  • Field sanitation.
  • Early planting i.e. immediately after onset of monsoon.
  • Follow intercropping system of sesamum+pearl millet (3:1).

Damping off / Root Rot (Macrophomina phaseolina)


  • The fungus attacks young seedling, their stem become water soaked soft and incapable of supporting the seedling which falls over and dies.
  • On older seedlings elongated brownish black lesions appear which increase in length and width girdling the stem and plant dies.


  • Crop rotation.
  • Provide good drainage.
  • Late planting.
  • Inter cropping with moth bean (1:1 or 1:2).
  • Destruction of diseased plants.

Phytophthora blight (Phytophthora parasitica var. Sesami)


  • Disease can attack at all stages of the plant.
  • Initial symptom is water soaked spots on leaves and stems.
  • The spots are chestnut brown in the beginning later turn to black.
  • Premature leaf fall occurs.
  • In humid weather, severity of disease increases, main root is affected, diseased plants are easily pulled out leaving lets and cortex behind, and produce shriveled seeds and gives blighted appearance.


  • Follow two year crop rotation.
  • Deep summer ploughing.
  • Provide good drainage.
  • Late planting
  • Use resistant tolerant varieties like TKG-22, TKG-55 and JTS-8.
  • Intercropping system, sesamum+pearl millet(3:1) should be followed.
  • Destruction of crop debris.
  • Rougue out diseased plants.
  • Soil amendment with biological control agent like Trichoderma harzianum and Trichoderma viride or seed treatment with T. Harzianum/ T. viride / Bacillus subtilis (0.4%)

Powdery mildew (Oidium sp. Sphaerotheca fudiginia, Leveillula)


  • Small cottony spots appear on the infected leaves which gradually spread on the lamina.
  • Defoliation of severely infected plant occurs before maturity.


  • Field sanitation.
  • Destruction of crop residues.
  • Early planting i.e. immediately after onset of monsoon.
  • Follow intercropping system of sesamum + pearl millet (3:1).
  • Use resistant variety RT-127
  • Destruction of crop residues and alternate hosts.

Sesame phyllody (Phytoplasma like organism)


  • All floral parts are transformed into green leafy structures followed by abundant vein clearing in different flower parts.
  • In severe infection, the entire inflorescences is replaced by short twisted leaves closely arranged on a stem with short internodes, abundant abnormal branches bend down.
  • Finally, plants look like witches broom.


  • Delay in planting of sesamum about 3 weeks after onset of monsoon.
  • Use intercropping system, sesamum + pigeon pea (1:1).
  • Use resistant varieties.
  • Provide plant spacing.
  • Destruction of diseased plants.

Stem and root rot (Rhizoctonia bataticola & Macrophomina phaseolina)


  • The affected plants show wilting.
  • At ground level stem becomes black which extends upward rupturing the stem.
  • Black dots appear on the infected stem which are the pycnidia of the fungus.
  • If wilted plant is uprooted, black coloured roots are observed having sclerotia of the fungus and looks as if charcoal is sprinkled on the root.
  • The roots become brittle.
  • In diseased plants black pods are seen which open prematurely exposing shriveled and discoloured seeds.


  • Deep summer ploughing.
  • Provide good drainage.
  • Late planting.
  • Do crop rotation or change the field after every two years.
  • Follow intercropping system sesamum + mothbean 1:1 or 2:1 ratio.
  • Whenever necessary, irrigate field every two weeks to avoid stress condition.
  • Use resistant varieties.
  • Destruction of crop residues.
  • Soil incorporation of biological control agents like Trichoderma harzianum, Trichoderma viride.
  • Treat the seed with T. viride or T. harzianum or Bacillus subtilis (0.4%).


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SESAME (Sesamum indicum)

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Sesamum belongs to the family Pedaliaceae.It is annual herb growing to a height of 0.5-2.0 m. The plant has tap root system with erect stem which is square in cross section.The leaves on the stem may be opposite,alternate or mixed.The inflorescence is a receme. The flowers arise in the leaf axils. The fruit is a capsule having two or four carpels.Seeds are small, ovate, slightly flattened and the colour may be black, white or brown.
Sesame grows in well-drained, sandy loam soils. Coarse sandy soils and soils of alkaline and saline nature are not suited for the crop.


Lowland paddy field: December-April (third crop)
Uplands: August-December


For upland cultivation use varieties with long duration of 100-110 days and for low land use varieties with duration of 80-99 days.


Suitable for lowlands of Onattukara

Kayamkulam-2 (Thilothama)

Suitable for rice fallows in Onattukara, resistant to leaf spot disease

ACV-1 (Soma)

Pure line selection for summer fallows of Onattukara

ACV-2 (Surya)

Pure line selection suited for uplands

ACV-3 (Thilak)

Pure line selection suited to summer fallows of Onattukara

Thilathara (CST 785 x B14)

Suitable for the summer rice fallows of Onattukara, oil 51.5%, duration 78 days


Suited to uplands of Onattukara (rabi season), oil 50.5%


Suited to summer rice fallows of Onattukara



Preparation of land and sowing

Prepare the soil into a fine tilth by ploughing 2-4 times and breaking the clods. Seed rate is 4-5 kg/ha. Broadcast seeds evenly, preferably mixed with sand 2-3 times its volume, to ensure uniform coverage. Work with harrow, followed by pressing with wooden plank so as to cover the seed in the soil.



Usually the crop is grown under rainfed conditions. When facilities are available, the crop may be irrigated to field capacity after thinning operation and thereafter at 15-20 days interval. Stop irrigation just before the pods begin to mature.
Surface irrigation at 3 cm depth during the critical stages, viz., 4-5 leaves, branching, flowering and pod formation will increase the yield by 35-52%. Two irrigations of 3 cm depth each in the vegetative phase (4-5 leaf stage or branching) and in reproductive phase (at flowering or pod formation) are the best, registering maximum yield and water use efficiency. In the case of single irrigation, it can be best given in the reproductive phase. In the tail end fields in command area, best use of the sparingly available water can be made for augmenting sesame production.



Apply manures and fertilizers at the following rates.

Cattle manure/compost

5 t/ha


30:15:30 kg/ha

Apply cattle manure/compost as basal dressing and incorporate into the soil along with last ploughing. Apply fertilizers as basal dose when there is enough moisture in the soil. Urea is preferable to ammonium sulphate. Nitrogen may be applied in split doses, 75% as basal and the balance as foliar spray at 3% concentration, 20-35 days after sowing keeping the discharge rate at 500 l/ha.



Aftercultivation of the crop may be done twice, first at 15 days and the next 25-35 days after sowing. When the plants are about 15 cm in height, thin the crop so as to give a spacing of 15-25 cm between plants.


For control of leaf and pod caterpillar, remove affected leaves and shoots and dust with carbaryl 10%. For control of gall fly, give preventive spray with 0.2% carbaryl.


For control of leaf curl disease, remove and destroy disease affected sesame plants as well as the diseased collateral hosts like chilli, tomato and zinnia.
Remove plants affected with phyllody and destroy them. Do not use seeds from affected plants for sowing.


Harvest the crop, when the capsules turn yellowish by pulling out the plants. Harvest during the morning hours. Cut the root portion and stack the plants in bundles for 3-4 days when the leaves will fall off. Spread in the sun and beat with sticks to break open the capsules. Repeat this for 3 days. Preserve seeds collected during the first day for seed purposes. Clean and dry in sun for about 7 days before storing.


Storage of seeds

By keeping sesame seeds in polybags, tin bins, wooden receptacles or in earthen pots, the viability can be maintained for about one year. Admixture of seeds with ash will drastically reduce germination.


800-1000 kg of seeds per hectare.

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