Sesame is a traditional crop relegated to poor soils with low yields. In recent years, interest for the production of sesame is increasing in Mali. The food of the rural Malian populations is cruelly lacking lysine and is very low in protein (8 to 10%), lipids (6 to 8%) and minerals. In order to diversify the source of protein, and to contribute to food security in the country side of Mali, twenty ecotypes sesame collected from different locations across Mali (the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Region of Mali) and some introductions were assessed for agronomic performances in the Sudano-Sahelian area of Mali. The tests were conducted following a device in randomized complete block with four replications. Quantitative data analyses were performed using the software STATITCF. The treatment comparison was performed using the multiple comparison tests of Newman and Keuls a probability of 5%. For plant height, the ecotype Banamba1 showed the highest with an average of 153 cm against 95 cm for Poroupri which was the shortest. Regarding the number of branches per plant, ecotype VS IPR had 15 branches, while ecotypes Enoupenou and Poroupri had only two branches. Regarding the number of capsules per plant, ecotype Bènèblen1 showed an average of 327 capsules per plant, while the ecotype Enoupenou had only 60 capsules per plant. The number of seeds per capsule ranged from 73 for ecotype ECS-37 to 34 for Namsubani. For the 50% flowering period Banamba1 and ECS-37 have the flowering period with the earlier 44 days while the latest has Sikasso2 with 67 days. Compared to the weight of thousand grains, Bougouni3 and ECS-37 gave a thousand-seed weight equivalent to 3.5 g while Sikasso2 and VS IPR gave the lowest 1000-grains weight with 2.0 g each. For yield performance, the best ecotypes were VS IPR, M'Pessoba1 and Bougouni2, that is, 1853, 1816 and 1789 kg/ha, respectively. The top four ecotypes sesame identified in this study will be tested during three years to evaluate adaptation capacity, yield performance and stability and then make available to breeders for further breeding.
Key words: Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.), ecotypes agronomic performance, Sudano-Sahelian, Mali.
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