Sesame Varieties Suitable for Mechanical Harvesting

Peleg Zvi, HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Plant Sciences and Genetics




sesame, sesame breeding , mechanized harvesting,

super food, sesame varieties, increased oil content

Current development stage

General list: TRL7  System prototype demonstration      

Collaboration Opportunity

Sponsored Research with an option to License Research Results

Licensing of Technology



Sesame is a healthy “super-food” that contains many attractive nutritional characteristics: vitamins, essential minerals (iron, zinc and calcium), fiber, healthy fat and protein content. Additionally, sesame seeds are an important component in the cosmetic industry.

Global production of sesame was 6.7 million metric tons in 2017 and the demand for sesame grew at rate of 5-10% CAGR[1]. It is expected that the consumption of sesame seeds will continue to grow to 9.5M tons[2] in 2025 valued at $17.7 billion[3]. Current worldwide sales of sesame exceed $8 billion annually.

During the ripening and harvesting processes, sesame plants open their capsules and spill their seeds onto the ground, resulting in a 50-70% loss and a final yield of about 600 kg/ha. As a preventative measure, famers harvest the crop while the plants are still green and the seeds are underdeveloped. These measures contribute to poor quality, varying and inconsistent nutritional value and inferior end products (oil and tahini). Furthermore, due to the labor intensive harvesting, the crop is mainly grown in low-income developing countries. Currently, the top producing countries and their share of production are Tanzania (15%), Myanmar (14%) India (14%), Nigeria (10%), Sudan (10%) China (7%), and Ethiopia (4%).





Our Innovation

Prof. Peleg’s sesame indehiscent capsules varieties do not open during ripening,  allowing the seeds to ripen fully to their fullest nutritional potential and do not lose seed during harvesting allowing for efficient harvesting with a combine. Several varieties have been developed thus far with varying colors (white, black, brown) that reach yields between 1,400 kg/ha to 1,800 kg/ha. These new varieties are suitable for mechanized harvesting and can now be grown in high-income developed countries.

These varieties are advantageous to both the farmer and the tahini/oil manufacturer. The famers gain 200% to 300% more yield while the manufacturer has a premium consistent product from semi-domesticated varieties. The first generation oil varieties have ~60% oil content when compared to ~35% oil content in public varieties, an astounding oil content that is double per seed. In addition, the nutritional characteristics are consistent when compared to public varieties - since the seeds are allowed to fully develop on the crop. Prof Peleg also has black seed varieties and small seed white tahini varieties equivalent in taste to the leading Humera sesame.


The new cultivar’s capsules have a unique feature – the capsules open only when mechanical pressure is induced, thus allowing mechanical harvesting.

Proof of concept was demonstrated in the field in Israel and Spain where these sesame seeds were successfully grown and mechanically harvested.



  • We can offer 36 varieties of indehiscent capsules sesame seed varieties
  • We are looking for licensors interested in the current 36 varieties
  • We are looking for partners who wish to enter into breeding programs specific to their geographies
  • We are looking for partners that can sponsored research, which can further enhance seed yield, oil yield, nutrition quality, acclimatization (flowering time, plant architecture, maturation time etc.), pest and disease protection, agronomics, and water use efficiency amongst other possibilities.




Contact for more information:

Ilya Pittel
Contact ME: