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Saffron production: annual or multi-year cycle cultivation, information on yield, type of soil and preliminary assessments to start a small or large production of saffron.
Saffron, a bit of history
Thesaffronit has always been known as a prized spice: it was used in Rome, in the richest Domus where wine was sipped mixed with the stigmas of the plant. To understand the ancient value of this spice, just think that an image of"Saffron harvesters"was found in the ruins of the Akotiri palace on the island of Thera. The representation dates back to 1500 BC.
Saffron, botanical framework
Thesaffronis the spice grown byCrocus Sativus L., a perennial bulbous herbaceous plant belonging to the Iridaceae family. The bulb has a diameter ranging from 2.5 to 6 cm, even the height of the plant varies from 10 to 25 cm.
The plant of thesaffronit has linear, sessile and dark green leaves. The leaves are characterized by a central white streak and are collected in tufts at the base. Of the Crocus Sativus, the flowers are interesting: they are bell-shaped, closed in tubules, of a pinkish purple color. The flowers are given by six petals closed at the base, 3 stamens with yellow anther and 3 filamentous stigmas ofcrocus red with the enlarged apex in the shape of a trumpet. The only part of the plant from which thesaffron productionit is these three slender stigmas. The stigmas are 3 - 4 cm long, have a bitter-spicy taste and when they are dried they can count on the characteristic aromatic smell. The dried stigmas, commercially, are known by the name ofsaffron.
The saffron plant is native to the mountains located between Afghanistan and Iran, however it also adapts well to our Mediterranean-continental climate as long as the winters are not excessively rainy.
Where to grow it saffron
In Italy, thesaffronit prefers hilly areas with calcareous, loose, deep and well-drained soils. It cancultivate saffronup to about 800 - 1200 meters of altitude.
Diseases of the saffron
To evaluate thesaffron production, we must keep in mind which are the parasites and diseases that can undermine crop productivity. Theresaffron plantit is very rustic, resistant to both parasites and climatic adversities.
Saffron undermines water stagnation that can favor the onset of pathogenic attacks. The most common diseases are those caused by the fungusRhizoctonia violacea(the mal vinato) and from the Phoma crocophila (the caries). Another threat is given by the Fusarium which can cause an abnormal development of the leaves which subtract energy from the bulb which will then fail to produce flowers and stigmas.
Other adversities to be aware of before starting onesaffron productionare the wild animals that feed on the bulb: wild boars, porcupines, mice and rats.
Saffron production: annual crop cycle
The cultivation of saffron in Italy that exploit the annual crop cycle are mainly located in the Florentine hills. The annual cycle sees, after the first year, the removal of the bulbs in late spring, when the vegetative rest begins and they are replanted in the summer months.
In thecultivation of saffronin the annual cycle, attention is paid to the arrangement of the land:saffronit is grown in flower beds with an area ranging from 150 to 1000 square meters, based on the characteristics of the plot available. In each flower bed the so-calledsluts80 - 85 cm wide and of variable length. The porches are parallel to each other and interspersed with 30 cm wide avenues that allow the passage of workers during the harvesting phases and other cultivation operations. To facilitate the drainage of the land, the porches are raised by about 25 - 30 cm above the level of the walkways of the workers.
Saffron production: multi-year crop cycle
Theresaffron productionmainly happens withcropsmulti-year type. With multi-year cultivation, saffron is planted in the open field and then explanted after 3 - 4 years. In areas with abundant rainfall, it is possible to take advantage of the porches with additional channels for lateral water drainage. In multi-year crops, the bulbs, over the years, reproduce independently, therefore, at the time of planting, it is important to respect the planting depth of about 20 cm.
Saffron production, how much land is needed
Before we talked about single flower beds with sizes ranging from 150 to 1000 square meters. It is clear that it is necessary to have a large plot of land to evaluate a large production of saffron.
The cultivation of saffron in Spain, they see a density ranging from 60 bulbs per m2, to 120 bulbs / m2, with a production that can reach an average of 3Kg per hectare of land per year. In Sardinia, the planting density is reduced compared to Spain and varies from 10 bulbs / m2 to 50 bulbs / m2. It is clear that the yield and production costs of saffron vary according to the crop cycle chosen and the density of the plant, as well as the variety of saffron chosen.
Other interested information on thesaffron production are available in our insights:
- How to grow saffron
- Saffron, properties and production