Saffron Farming Guide & Information for Beginners

How to Grow Saffron Little About Saffron Farming

Saffron is one of the most expensive¬†flavoring¬†spice throughout the world which derived from the¬†dry stigmata of the plant; named¬†‚ÄúCrocus Sativus‚ÄĚ.¬†In the world, it is popularly known as the¬†Red gold by¬†the local. Red gold farming can be done throughout the complete world since the growing red gold is easy and simple for everyone. The price of saffron is very high not because of it is harder to grow but it required hard labor for harvesting this crop.

Basically, a saffron plant crop is a perennial and autumn flowering bulbous crop along with globular like corms, having an avg height of 20 cm. And this perennial bulbous plant crop belongs to Europe and nearby region, especially Greece. This crop is mostly grown by the Mediterranean countries including Spain, Austria,  England, Iran, France, Greece, and Turkey. Currently, saffron farming or growing is spread throughout the whole world and numbers of farmers are creating good income by growing it commercially.

saffron harvesting and post harvesting

What exactly Saffron Is?¬†Many of us are does not even know that what exactly saffron is? basically, saffron is nothing¬†but it is a stigma or it is¬†a part of the female¬†flower of the¬†Crocus sativus which is known as¬†‚Äúsaffron crocus‚ÄĚ in general by the local. Commercially, the threads from saffron flowers are collected and are dried off to use it as s seasoning agent and coloring agent in the food processing industries.

Why is Saffron So Expensive? Saffron is the most expensive spice throughout the globe. And the higher price of this spice is not because it is harder to grow, but because of it requires too much hard work for harvesting this perennial crop. Saffrons are collected from a large amount of the female flowers. That means it requires too much labor cost which makes it the costliest spice by weight in the world. But, growing saffron is not a hardworking job. It is easy to grow and anyone can grow it. However, they can be harvested only once in a span of few year.

 

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Usually, 1 kg of saffron consists of about 1,60,000 to 1,70,000 tiny flowers which mean it is tiring job and also time-consuming too. Where can we grow Saffron? In addition to being grown on the commercial scale, saffron can be grown indoors, pots, greenhouse, poly house, containers, backyards, and also using hydroponics.

Saffron | Scientific Name & Botanical Name

The scientific name or botanical name of saffron in “Crocus sativus”. Basically, this bulbous perennial crop belongs to¬†‚ÄúIridaceae‚ÄĚ family.

Health Benefits of Saffron

Saffron is one kind of a sweet-smelling spice herb with a strong aroma along with bitter taste. However, following is a list of few of the health benefits of saffron.

health benefits of saffron

  • Saffron contains several kinds of important nutrients in very high amount including vitamin C, Ascorbic acid, etc which helps in improving the immune system and white blood cell production
  • Saffron can function as an effective energy booster and increases metabolism via increasing blood regulation.
  • It is also beneficial in protecting us from various kinds of heart-related problem such as¬†heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and strokes.
  • Saffron is one kind of a sweet-smelling spice herb with a strong aroma
  • By regulating¬†insulin, blood sugar, and glucose levels, it prevents us from diabetes.
  • Saffron is also found to be helpful in giving relief from mild depression and can be used as mood freshener.
  • It also improves the bone health and the function of nervous system.
  • There are more than 100 various kinds of active compounds are present within the saffron‚Äôs complex form.
  • It is a wonderful home remedy for those people who are suffering from¬†arthritis, gout, sports¬†injuries, and other inflammatory problems.
  • The¬†quick-acting antioxidant compounds present in it can boost the healing speed of¬†topical healing of¬†wounds and bruises.

However, it is mostly used in the culinary item to obtain color in preparation biryani meat, cordials, cottage cheese, confectioneries, cakes, Mughlai dishes, etc. Whereas commercially, it is used in the preparation of cosmetic items and perfumes.

There is a belief about the saffron that is, if it is taken along with milk while having the pregnancy, it will result in a glowing skin of the newborn baby.

Top Saffron Producing Countries

Saffron plant is native to Europe and nearby region, especially to Greece. So, this crop is mostly grown by the Mediterranean countries including Spain, Austria,  England, Iran, France, Greece, and Turkey. The following is the list of few countries, which tops the list of saffron production.

  • Iran
  • Spain
  • India
  • Greece
  • Azerbaijan
  • Morocco
  • Italy

Other Names of Saffron

Kesar (Hindi), Azafran (Spanish), Safran (French), Safran (German), Saffran (Swedish), Kong (Kashmiri), Zafferano (Italian), Shafran (Russian ), Zafran (Arabic), Zafran (Urdu), Fan Hung-Hua (Chinese), Saffraan (Dutch), Acofrao (Portuguese), Shafran (Russian), Safuran (Japanese), Keshar (Gujarati), Kunkuma, Acofrao (Portuguese), Keshara, Aruna, Arika, & Asra, (Sanskrit).

Varieties of Saffron

saffron farming

The major varieties or cultivars of saffrons includes the following:

  • Mongra (Lacha)¬†saffron
  • Cr√®me¬†saffron
  • Kashmiri Saffron
  • Persian saffron
  • Organic Saffron
  • Spanish Superior saffron and
  • Aquilla¬†saffron

Types of Saffron

There are various forms of saffron are available throughout the different portion of the world depending on the coloring power of saffron varieties. Some of them are listed below:

  • Negin
  • Bunch
  • All – Red
  • Style &
  • Poushal

Soil and Climate Required for Saffron Farming

The type of soil used for cultivation is more important than the climate and weather conditions in commercial saffron farming.

Saffron crop thrives requires sunny climate conditions and can thrive it best under sub-tropical climate conditions. On an average, it requires optimum sunlight for about 12 hours for desirable production. It is able to grow up to more than 2000 meters above MSL. Since. the coupling of low temp with the high humidity in the flowering season may affect the flowering of this crop and spring rains can boost new corms production.

saffron farming soil and climate requirement

When it comes to the best suitable soil for saffron, they can grow well on wide variety of soil ranging from acidic soil to neutral and gravelly, loamy soils, and sandy soils. However, thrive it best in loose, friable, and low-density soil which is also rich all essential organic matter. It requires a good facility of proper drainage. Since raised beds are the best option and most preferred for saffron production

A pH ranging from 6.0 to 8.0 is considered as the best suitable for saffron excellent plant growth. Must avoid saffron plantation on the heavy clayey soils since are not suitable for higher yield.

Ensure proper means of sunny place during the growing period, especially during the flowering stage.

How to Grow Saffron?

saffron farming corms

Propagation in Saffron Farming

For commercial saffron production, the propagation is mainly done through compressed underground stems known as corms.

Saffron Lifecycle

The four stages of commercial saffron production are as below:

  • Planting Stage:¬†Generally, from June to September
  • Flowering Stage:¬†In October, if big corms are planted
  • Vegetative Development Stage
  • Leaves Dry Out Stage:¬†Usually, in May

Land Preparation in Saffron Farming

The selected site for saffron production should be dry, aired, calcareous, flat and free from any kind of extra materials. It should be full of all essential organic matter content. Give two to three deep ploughings to bring the soil in fine and tilth form. Loosening of soil is also required for better growth before corms planting.

The fertility of soil can be increased by adding a good dose of farmyard manure. Whereas the nitrogenous fertilizer should be spread to the surface after the corms planting on the field. However, intercultural activities such as weeding and hoeing should be done at a regular interval of time to keep the soil free from any kind of extra materials.

Corms Planting Season and Spacing

To obtain flowering in October, the best season for planting corms on the field is from June to September. By this, the leaves will be dried off in May.

saffron corms

For planting corms, sowing directly to the field should be done with an optimum planting depth of 12 cm to 15 cm and showing should of corm be done by keeping a distance of 10 cm to 13 cm between them. There is no need for irrigation. However, in hot months water should be given to maintaining the moisture content of the soil. After 3 yrs of sowing corms, they used to multiply for each year @ 5 corms from a single corm.

Irrigation in Saffron Farming

There is less requirement of water in this crop. An irrigation of 100 mm is to be given at the pre-flowering stage whereas, for the seasonal rainfall of 550 mm, an irrigation of 50 mm should be done at the post-flowering stage. However, for saffron production in low seasonal rainfall such as 200 mm to 400, supplemental irrigation should be given at an interval of 15 days.

Application of Manure and Fertilizers in Saffron Farming

Try to add a good dose of well-decomposed compost or farmyard manure such as 30 tonnes per hectare at the time of land preparation for the saffron production before planting saffrons to increase the soil fertility and productivity. However, little care to be taken off the corms after planting them on the ground. Since they are able to grow without any application fo manuring and fertilizer during their complete growing periods. However, application of 20 kg of Nitrogen along with 80 kg of Phosphorous and 30 kg of Potassium per hectare after the flowering is found beneficial in obtaining higher saffron production.

Pests and Diseases in Saffron Farming

In saffron production, there are 3 common diseases named Fusarium, Violet root rot, and Rhizoctonia Crocorum are usually found. The symptoms of all these three fungal infections are given below:

saffron farm

  1. Fusarium: It attacks the leaves and corm part making an orange colored band limit on the healthy parts.
  2. Violet Root Rot: This is highly contagious and may result in damp rot. This usually observed after the 3rd of the plantation. This can be controlled by uprooting the corm and replanting it to another saffron field. But, never use to planting on the same field for at about 12 days.
  3. Rhizoctonia Crocorum: This may cause damping-off and brown ulceration.

In addition to this, voles, wood mice, and rabbits are also some natural predators of saffron which may destroy the crop completely. Provide proper means of protection for controlling these natural predators.

Intercultural Activities in Saffron Farming

The ground must be free from the weeds and extra material. Mulching should be done with sawdust to control the growth of weeds on the ground. However, application of suitable weedicides is helpful in controlling weeds effectively.

Saffron Harvesting

Saffron becomes start flowering at an age of two-year-old of the planting corms on the ground. Harvesting should be done in the morning time of only those open and full bloom stage flowers.

saffron harvesting

After harvesting the saffron flowers, pluck out the red pistils from the collected flowers. But, care to be taken while removing the red stigmas with nails and fingers. To minimize the hard work in harvesting, allow for air dry without giving high heat.

Let the saffron plants crop to grow without the bulbous flower for the next harvesting.

Post-Harvesting Task in Saffron Farming

After harvesting, the filaments should be dried off for the preservation. This can be achieved by putting the¬†pistils on the sieves in a proper ventilated system for about 15 minutes in a temp ranging from 50 ¬įC to 60 ¬įC.

After drying off, filaments or pistils becomes light in weight and easily breakable. Generally, freshly harvested saffron does not have any kind of flavor and taste so it is advised to keep these dried off saffron filaments in an airtight container in a dark, and dry place. and it should be kept away from light, at least for about three to four weeks before the consumption of it.

Such processed saffron holds its taste and flavor for about 2 to 3 years.

Yield of Saffron Farming

The yield of saffron cultivation or production depends on many key factors such as variety, type of soil, facility of sunlight, along with some common farm management skills, practices during the cultivation period. It is observed that mother corms planted deeper used to yield a high quality of saffrons threads even there is less production of flower buds and offspring corms are few.

saffron harvesting and post harvesting

When it comes to yield, on an avg. for producing 1 gm of dried saffron, there is need of about 150 saffron flowers. However, in the first year of the plantation, it is observed that only 60 to 65 % of planted corms used to bear or produce 1 flower on each of them which increases to 2 flowers in the following years of corms plantation on the ground.

Marketing of Saffron or Saffron Market

Saffron is one of the costliest spice throughout the globe and there is great market demand for it in the both, local and international market. Spice board can help us more in the selling of the produced saffron at an excellent rate since retailers are always searching at spice board.

When it comes to saffron market price, it varies on the basis of quality, grade, types, and color of saffron. However, on an average, one can easily 1 gram of saffron @ Rs 400 to Rs 650 and more than it, depending on the produce saffron.

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