In this paper, we will review some tips on growing saffron commercially.
Growing saffron commercially, saffron cultivation and saffron harvest
If you are fascinated by saffron, you are right. The taste, food, and medicinal properties, and most importantly income generation from the production and supply of saffron have attracted the attention of many people. Therefore, growing saffron commercially may be an interesting subject for readers.
Methods on growing saffron commercially and saffron cultivation?- Hydroponics method
The advantage of hydroponic methods over the traditional method for growing saffron and saffron cultivation is the prevention of wastage and as a result a very significant reduction in water consumption as well as cost reduction in land preparation, pest, and animal control, and weeds. It should be considered that setting up a greenhouse costs a lot at first, but over time, because of the return of capital compared to the traditional method, the initial cost is cost-effective.
Land conditions for growing saffron and saffron cultivation
Growing saffron and saffron cultivation is recommended in sunny and treeless lands that are not exposed to cold winds, high temperatures in summers, and mild weather in winters. The maximum suitable temperature for this plant is 35 to 40 degrees Celsius and it has shown good performance at an altitude of 1300 to 2300 meters above sea level (if you want more precise data on saffron growing temperature, you may read this article)
However, saffron cultivation can be done in different conditions with different methods. Because after a while, the saffron plant becomes accustomed to environmental conditions and gets used to it.
Saffron cultivation and growing saffron in Iran is easy according to the ideal climatic conditions. For this reason, many people are looking for growing saffron commercially. The saffron plant needs warm temperate climates for cultivation and is usually planted between August and October.
The saffron growing season is from November to May. Indeed, it starts its activity in this period. Saffron leaves wither and wrinkle as the scorching heat begins. It is at this time that the sleep of the saffron bulb begins and it practically ceases to function. Note that dry and warm soils are suitable for saffron cultivation and have priority.
Land preparation is very important in growing saffron commercially and in fact, it is one of the most important stages of saffron cultivation. In cold seasons, it is better to prepare the ground by deep plowing. If you do not have access to the tractor and plowing conditions at this time of year, you can postpone plowing until late spring or early summer (early July).
Use a small amount of lime in the soil for saffron cultivation. Saffron bulbs remain in the ground for 5 to 7 years, so the soil should have light soil or a combination of sand so that saffron bulbs can withstand a long period of time for providing food as well as against specific regional conditions. So that the saffron growing and saffron cultivations give better results and higher quality of saffron, fertile and drained lands without trees with loamy, lemon, clay, sandy and calcareous soils with a pH between 8 to 7 on saline, poor and wet, acidic soils are preferred. Saffron does not produce good crops in lands that do not have rubble or weeds or rotted organic matter.
In the process of saffron cultivation, plowing is done twice. In mechanized agriculture, plowing is usually the means of plowing the land. This plowing is done in the autumn before saffron is planted. Again in the spring, after the spring rains have stopped, re-plowing is used to break the soil crust as well as killing the weeds.
The soil should be sweet and saffron should be planted in a field that is about a few years after the last saffron cultivation of that land.
Saffron cultivation gives better results if animal manure is used. You should add this fertilizer to the soil in September or August with ammonium phosphate. This fertilizer should be injected into the ground by the Faro method.
The best time for saffron cultivation is August to October. After planting the saffron bulb in the ground for 4 to 7 years (although in some areas 10 years), it will yield. In addition, with these saffron bulbs, you will no longer need to extend the saffron cultivation to next year.
Growing saffron bulbs
Because saffron cultivation in new lands is only possible with saffron bulbs, careful selection is very important. Saffron bulbs can be removed from the soil and transferred to another warehouse or farm. Depending on the period of saffron bulbs’ sleep or rest, which lasts from late May to late August, saffron bulbs can be taken out at this distance. It is best to plant the saffron bulbs after removing them from the ground so that they can continue to rest in the newly established soil. Saffron bulbs should be avoided in late August onwards, as some bulbs may be ready for rooting and germination at this time. The shorter the distance between the bulbs and the planting time, the better. However, saffron bulbs are stored for several months in a cool, dry place with a height of 30 to 20 cm in a diffused form, but this prevents the physiological development of flowers and greatly reduces the yield of the first year of planting. It is better to avoid planting saffron bulbs in late July and early August because in these cases the air and the ground are very hot and there is a concern that the moisture of the saffron bulbs go away during transportation and may be damaged. According to the Khorasan Industrial Research Center research, the best time for saffron cultivation and saffron bulbs is in June.
You need a few people (4 to 5 people) for planting saffron. They make holes to start planting in a row of vessels. Put 3 to 15 saffron bulbs in each hole. The required depth in these pits for planting saffron bulbs is equal to 15 to 20 cm (so that the cold and heat do not penetrate the saffron bulbs). When you want to put the saffron bulbs in the hole, the tip of the bulb (bulb head) should be facing up.
These four people work systematically to advance the saffron cultivation process. In such a way that the first person prepares the pit with a shovel for planting, the second and third people choose groups of 3 to 5 or 15 saffron bulbs, and the person who puts these saffron bulbs in the pit is definitely the fourth person. With this process, saffron cultivation can be completed in less time.
After finishing, the uneven surface of the cultivated surfaces should be smoothed and compacted with a shovel. This compression and smoothing cause the saffron bulbs to stick to the soil. There is no need to do any other things on this land until the autumn irrigation. Before watering, you should spray the animal manure in a completely rotten form on the soil surface. Cover the saffron grooves with a trowel. This will make your cultivation be in a row.
You will need two tons of saffron bulbs per hectare for growing saffron. The saffron bulbs you choose for saffron cultivation should be perfectly healthy, free of corrosion and pests, and free of any disease. They should be young and not older than 7 years. When growing saffron, remove the mound and extra parts of the bulb. Extra parts are the place of rooting in the bulb, which has become a dry wood. To protect saffron bulbs from pests, they should be soaked in mercury toxins such as granozal, tritizan, and sarzan. In general, for every 100 kg of bulbs, you need to consume 300 to 500 grams of animal manure.
For growing saffron, you may plant two tons of bulbs per hectare. If these bulbs are not removed from the soil after the seventh year, they will become hollow and weak. So that in 8 to 9 years, no trace of them will remain. The amount of bulbs that come out of the ground in year 7 after burying the bulbs is equal to 5 times the cultivation of the first year.
The fertilizer for growing saffron plants should be animal and completely rotten. Note that you should not use fresh fertilizer for growing saffron plants under any circumstances. You need 30 to 50 tons of animal manure per hectare. This fertilizer should be injected into the soil along with phosphorus and potash (200 kg). In addition, every three years, 10 to 15 tons of animal manure with 100 kg of urea should be used. These conditions are excellent and suitable for having farmland suitable for growing saffron.
Irrigate only once from planting to saffron harvest. The soil should be watered immediately after growing saffron bulbs. If the ground for growing saffron is wet before planting bulbs, you should irrigate a few days after planting.
Saffron is resistant to drought and lack of water. The watering time of the saffron plant in autumn is 15 days after the stems are seen. If irrigation is done before the appearance of the stems and the month of October, the leaves will appear and then the saffron flowering will start and this increase will cause many flowers to be out of our reach and will disappear between the leaves. Especially if irrigation is repeated. Note that after watering the bulbs immediately after planting, the next watering stage is only once in the fall. Note that saffron is a drought-resistant plant and does not require much irrigation.
Of course, (if you are looking for better efficiency for growing saffron in the next years) it is better to irrigate the ground several times after harvesting and collecting saffron in winter so that the bulbs in the soil become larger.
Irrigation for growing saffron and saffron cultivation
After planting saffron bulbs, which last until the end of September, they irrigate the field about 15 to 10 days after planting. In different parts of Khorasan, depending on the climate of the region, saffron irrigation will start from mid-October to the first decade of November. The flowering of saffron depends to some extent on the initial irrigation, so to avoid saffron harvest problems, the initial irrigation is divided between the plots at intervals of several days so that the flowering period of the plots does not coincide with each other. Initial irrigation of saffron is very important in growing saffron and all parts of the land should be watered sufficiently and evenly so that the flowers of one piece come out at the same time. After the farm is plowed, they use an Iranian plow to break the soil crust and then trowel the ground. Breaking the soil crusts is very important in growing saffron and causes the saffron flower buds to come out of the soil more easily and have strong and desirable growth. After the initial irrigation, the first saffron flowers appear 20 to 15 days later. Obviously, the saffron field does not produce significant yields in the first year (yet it doesn’t mean that the growing saffron process has not been correct. Because this is normal.) Watering is done every 12 to 6 days from early April until the leaves turn yellow. After weeding, watering should be delayed so that the weeds are removed and do not re-emerge. The last irrigation is very effective in enlarging the saffron bulbs.
saffron cultivation and breaking the soil crusts
When you do the first irrigation, you will encounter a soil crust on the ground. In growing saffron, you should not postpone the breaking of the soil crust and it is better to break this crust by plowing the ground with a grooved shovel, Iranian plow, cultivator, and tilting shovel. Breaking the soil layer makes saffron flowers easily protrude from the soil and animal manure is well distributed in the ground and thus the saffron growing process will be more efficient.
If your land has not yet received the necessary fertilizer by the time of autumn irrigation, it is better to sprinkle the necessary fertilizer on the ground surface of saffron and mix it with the soil before watering. This is almost the same as breaking the chain. To smooth the ground and fix the soil to saffron bulbs, they use a trowel on the soil.
If the saffron harvest is over, you should weed it. Weeding should be done after harvesting the flowers. Weeds reduce the growth of the saffron plant and remove many nutrients, sunlight, and water from its reach. These weeds provide the basis for any insects, pests, and diseases. Field weeding is essential whenever weeds grow
In saffron soils, weeding is usually done after the second irrigation. Weeds are cleaned after collecting saffron flowers. The second time to eradicate saffron weeds is one month before the third irrigation. It is better not to use chemical herbicides during the growth of saffron plants.
You need 15 to 25 days for saffron harvest. Your land crop is very low in the first year and is limited to large bulbs with adequate food storage.
In mid-November, purple saffron flowers appear in their fields. With the appearance of purple flowers, the saffron harvest begins and continues for 3 weeks. Saffron harvest begins before sunrise and lasts until 9 am. The colorful flowers of saffron are purple and show a beautiful image when the cold season starts. The saffron harvest season is very beautiful in Iran and we invite you to have a visit in this season. When the saffron harvest starts in the cities that the saffron is the people’s main job, nearly all the people are involved in that. When the sun rises, you can see many people heading towards the saffron fields for saffron harvest.
In this article, we reviewed growing saffron commercially. For growing saffron, you may also read this paper.
About Ana Qayen saffron
We are one of the biggest suppliers of Iranian saffron. We export tons of saffron annually. We also have a company in France (Ana Royal int. Co.) so that our customers can deal with us much easier. Since nearly 90 percent of saffron of the world is produced in Iran, we can supply at any amount that you need. To buy saffron in bulk, (In Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, the US, or any other country)you may visit this page or be in touch with our sales team via WhatsApp.
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