Saffron: Planting to harvest
Category : ŁSaffron

Saffron: Planting to harvest

1-planting saffron

Botanical characteristics: Saffron is a perennial plant and  is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the "saffron crocus". Saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are the distal end of a carpel. Saffron bulbs is solid and has several skins and a white brain with flat bottom and raised top, that the flower and new shoots arise the buds on the onions. Young onions have brown skin, but corms have several shell, shell top and fluffy white onion and sweet brain and a diameter between 3 to 5 cm. The difference between onion and saffron bulbs is that onion has several leaflets. But saffron bulbs is  en bloc and solid.

Environmental conditions required for Saffron cultivation: Saffron  is a tropical plant and native to the Mediterranean environment, characterised by cool to cold winters, with autumn-winterspring rainfall, and warm dry summers with very little rainfall. It can withstand substantial frosts (-10oC), and can tolerate occasional snow in the winter. That is why in some parts of north and north-eastern of Iran such as Khorasan province, planting saffron is valuable and affordable. Saffron bulbs do not activate summer, vigilance and activity period is from about October to April and the start of the hot season, it's leaves become yellow and dried, and bulb goes to sleep. So warm and dry lands are suitable places for saffron cultivation.

The best type of soil for saffron: Saffron corms like a well drained soil. Heavy clay soil must be avoided. The ideal type of ground is a neutral clay-calcareous or silty soil (PH 6 to 8). For small areas like a vegetable garden or simple borders, one can easily improve the soil by adding sand, peat or compost. The saffron bed must be in a sunny place, notably in autumn during the flowering stage. 

Soil preparation:

In order to prepare the ground, you can either turn the soil over or plough deeply (about 20 cm) and add some compost or manure. In the case of nitrogenous fertilizer, it is better to spread on the surface after planting. Keep the ground weed free until planting (from June to September) and make loosen the soil before planting the corms. 

2-Growing saffron

 Irrigation: After planting the bulbs in the ground, the field should be irrigated immediately, whereas before planting, the farm was irrigated, the irrigation can be done a few days after planting. Saffron is a  plant that resist to drought and the first autumn irrigation must be done 15 days before that the flower shoots comes out. The first watering after planting saffron, is done by the first to end of October. Saffron irrigation is done when that other products do not need to water. Saffron need water in winter and early spring, but in summer the water is not required.

Fertiliser

In traditional saffron culture, large amounts of farm yard manure were applied to the saffron fields before planting, and typically 20-30 tons per hectare are incorporated during cultivation. This material supplies nutrients, but its other major role is to improve soil moisture holding capacity and structure under nonirrigated conditions. Under traditional growing systems no further fertiliser was applied after corm planting. However, recent data suggest that at least some annual fertiliser applications are beneficial and a base dressing of 80 kg P/ha and 30 kg K/ha followed by a split application of 20 kg N/ha in autumn and again immediately after flowering is recommended.

Weed control

At Clyde, we did not use herbicides on the crop while it was actively growing. Sawdust mulch helped reduce weed problems. During the dormant phase, when the tops died off, we used the herbicides to clean up the beds prior to the new season’s flowering and growth. The choice of chemical depended on the weeds present. The old top growth, which dies in the summer, needs to be raked off the beds prior to the autumn flowering.

3-Harvesting

Saffron flowers in the autumn, about 40 days after planting, and continues for 30-40 days, depending on the weather. The flowering period of each plant may last up to 15 days.

Flowers are usually picked daily in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before flowers wither. The flower is cut at the base of the flower stem with a slight twisting movement or by cutting with the finger nail. Care is taken not to damage the leaves. In Greece, flowers are harvested all day, as demanded by flowering. In Italy, flowers are picked early in the morning while the flower is still closed. It is considered that the flower is quicker to pick in this state, and that it is quicker to remove the stigma.

 Despite the hard work of harvesting saffron, despite many progress in technology, saffron production with four thousand years old, yet in all aspects, is operated traditionally. Planting, harvesting and drying saffron is traditional.

 
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