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New Crop, Opportunities Come to Ouachita Parish

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OAUCHITA PARISH, LA. (KNOE 8 News) - The newest crop in Ouachita Parish is sesame seeds.

"When you get a sesame seed bun at McDonald's or out of a grocery store or wherever and that's how it's grown," Ouachita Parish farmer, Gary Mathes, said.

Dozens of seeds are grown in green pods bunched together on stalks in a field on the corner of Keystone Road and Highway 165, right next to Sterlington High School.

Mathes has been a Ouachita Parish farmer since 1993 and he knows a dryland field like this can make traditional farming a chore, so he thought of something different.

"On a lot of dryland, you can't grow corn," Mathes said. "If you don't get your rains like you should, 50 bushels of corn on dryland, that's not paying the bills. Maybe this is an alternative."

Mathes said the seeds were bought by Sesaco Corporation.

Its field agents promoted the idea to him.

According to Sesaco's website, they manufacture the seeds into baking ingredients or sesame oil.

"Now, I'm sure that it'll go to McDonald's or whoever," said Mathes.

It's a new crop but is it a cash crop?

"It sells by the pound," Mathes said.

The sesame seed field is 85 acres large and every acre holds about 3,000-4,000 pounds of these sesame seeds.

Multiply that together and that's a lot of seeds.

Mathes hopes it sells for enough to show local farmers a new opportunity for more money.

"Come back out and I can tell you then if it did good or not," he said.

Those sesame seeds were planted back in June and Mathes said harvest should be coming in two to three weeks.

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