Probably everyone can grow saffron, but few farmers can do it professionally and make good money. Do you want to be a professional saffron producer and grow saffron for profit? We are here to help you do this.
It is easy to have an ordinary saffron farm, but is this enough? Absolutely no. We are here to help you enter the saffron business and make money from it.
When we start our work, there was nobody to educate and help us find our way, and we just found our way with a lot of trial and error. Every error had some cost and profit for us, We learned how to maintain ourselves in the saffron market, and now we are here to help other farmers expand their farms with saffron.
We want to break the monopoly of saffron planting knowledge and share it with you. We prepared an outline of growing saffron for you. This blueprint can give you a comprehensive view of saffron planting and be useful for you at the start of work.
This guide will tell you, how to grow saffron Professionally and how to have an excellent saffron farm.
When Is Saffron Growing Time?
The best time for growing saffron is in summer. At this time, saffron bulbs are in the sleep phase and ready to transfer from the initial farm to the target farm.
Saffron bulbs storage The maximum time saffron seeds can stay out of the soil is two weeks.
Some saffron growing conditions are as follows:
- Temperature: -15C to +40C (Saffron tolerates up to -30 degrees well)
- Climate: Preferably hot and dry
- PH: 7-7.5
- Soil pattern: sandy-loamy soil and well-drained
- Water and soil should not be salty
- The best yield of saffron at an altitude of 1300 to 2300 meters
The best temperature for growing saffron is the range of -10 to +40C. At low temperatures, saffron bulbs can start the growth phase, and enter the sleep phase at high temperatures.
The next factor is dry weather, saffron farms can’t survive in severe wet conditions, and bulbs love the dry weather. Of course, this is a relative issue and many cases of saffron cultivation success have been reported in wet places, and there are definitely no restrictions on planting saffron at home.
Soil and water PH must be in the range of 7 – 7.5. Also, note that the soil should not be too heavy or light. Rainy summer weather can be very harmful to saffron bulbs because high humidity and warm weather are two factors of corms infection with ticks and fungi.
Saffron Planting Income
saffron planting incomes can be classified into two main methods:
- Saffron production
- Saffron bulbs multiplication
In the first year of saffron planting, we plant 10 tons of saffron corms per hectare, and after seven years and during the saffron propagation process, we will have about 70 tons of saffron bulbs. It is the exact mean of scale-up business, and after seven years, you can take out bulbs and plant them in a new land.
The second saffron income stream is the saffron production process. You will harvest saffron for seven years, which can be very valuable for you. If you live in the USA, you can sell your product at a high value, the saffron price in the USA is relatively high, and you can have good sales in this market.
Now, look at how a saffron farm is born and see how we produce saffron and prepare it to send to the consumer’s home.
Also, if you want to know more about greenhouse saffron cultivation, you can read the relevant post.
How to Grow Saffron
1. Preparing the Farm
Preparing the farm is our first step. We should consider an appropriate land for growing saffron and this land should have some features:
- Do not need it for at least seven years
- Preferably away from pests
- It has a medium soil texture
- Do not cross the passage of people and animals
- Be rich in nutrients
In this method of growing saffron, the ground is vital. In this method, we plant saffron seeds in the soil only once and harvest saffron for seven years, and at this time, our corms stay underground and don’t get off the ground. So we should be careful about the farm and the basis of our work.
Plowing the Land
The best time for plowing land is in the last of fall, and early winter and if we couldn’t do it at this time, we can push the farm in spring or summer, but the best time is the last of fall or early of winter.
We should plow land 40-50cm deep and add some base fertilizer to the ground. We usually use this program on our farms:
- Rotted cow manure / 4 tons per 1000 meters
- Granular potassium sulfate / 25 kg per 1000 meters
- Triple superphosphate / 25 kg per 1000 meters
- Sulfur with bentonite / 50 kg per 1000 meters
Then we should mix the soil and flatten it to be ready for the next step in summer.
Appropriate Planting Depth
Please believe that growing saffron depth is essential. Lack of proper planting depth can decrease your saffron production by 50%, and this is a disaster.
If you plant bulbs in the lower deep, your saffron flowers can not reach the soil surface, and if you plant bulbs upper than the appropriate depth, your bulbs will be at risk of contamination and will be out from the soil within a few years.
The best and most appropriate depth for growing saffron seeds is 20 cm. This amount has been obtained by research on many saffron farms and has an efficiency of over 90%. It is not just for saffron farms, and if you planted saffron in containers at your home, you can use it.
2. Preparation of Saffron Bulbs
We usually plant saffron farms in the summer, and saffron bulbs are the seeds we use. You can see in the below picture saffron bulbs that are ready to grow.
In this step of growing saffron, we should separate the bulbs and remove extra straws around them. When the bulbs are sticking together, the saffron farm’s efficiency reduces, which is the main reason for taking bulbs out of the soil after seven years.
We plant a bulb in the ground, and it starts to produce saffron every year. Also, it does another essential process, which is multiplication. Each of the corms can propagate and make 1-3 new bubs. You can buy saffron bulbs for planting from local shops in your region.
The third step is disinfecting saffron bulbs to protect them from infectious and other harmful things. You can do this process as follows:
- Prepare a 100 to 200-liter tank
- Buy suitable and approved fungicides and acaricides
- Make a solution of fungicide and acaricide in the tank
- Put each 10 kg of bulbs in a basket and take into a solution for 60 seconds
4. Planting Saffron Crocus Bulbs
Planting saffron in the soil is the next step in summer. Many farmers usually use traditional methods, in this method, saffron planting machines do not have any role, and just human sources do everything.
We must plant the saffron bulbs 20 cm down the soil; planting more or less deep can decrease the efficiency of saffron farms or even destroy the farm. If you plant the corms 25cm deep, bulbs probably can’t arrive on the soil’s surface and their energy is spent splitting the ground.
Saffron Planting Methods
We have two methods for growing saffron:
- Cultivation by pit method
- Ideal cultivation of saffron
The best and most efficient method that we recommend is the ideal cultivation of saffron. In this method, we should plant ten tons of bulbs per hectare. This density of planting has some advantages in comparison to the traditional model. Some of these advantages are as follow:
- Reduce farm maintenance costs
- Reduce water consumption
- Reduce harvesting costs
- Reduce the amount of land required
- And more…
More Resources from UVM Saffron
5. Saffron Farm Irrigation
Saffron water requirement is low, and we usually irrigate saffron farms just four times during the growing season of the saffron farms. The first time should be done in October. This irrigation must be done deep and entirely and just before the first autumn rain.
The second time is done after harvesting saffron by combining fertilization (ZAJ water).
The third time in January and the fourth saffron Irrigation can be ignored in the rain full times. The process of saffron irrigation has some details that you should know if you want to read complete instructions in this post; saffron irrigation
Time of First Irrigation
This is important when you do your first irrigation and can affect your harvesting process in two aspects. The first irrigation is one of the main factors in starting the growing season along with the temperature.
Decrease in temperature and increasing humidity are the two factors of starting the saffron growth season and we can regulate them to obtain the most productivity. Irrigation at the right time can lead to the late growth of saffron leaves and this will facilitate the process of saffron harvest.
Also, we can manage the big farms by regulating the first irrigation time. Sometimes we have a big farm and we can’t manage its harvesting process, in this condition, we can do some tricks in order to create a distance at the time of flowering in two parts of the field and thus reduce the workload of the field at a certain time.
Don’t Irrigate in Summer
At first, we will mention some of the Summer irrigation benefits, then we will say why it’s better to don’t it. Saffron irrigation in summer is good for increasing farm productivity and can increase our productivity by 30%. Also, it can increase saffron bulbs’ weight, leading to increasing saffron bulb propagation and we will have more bulbs.
But this is only one side of the story. We prepare humidity when we do summer irrigation, and the summer climate provides hot weather. Together, these factors lead to an outbreak of infection and disease among saffron seeds, which means the loss of half of all seeds.
So, don’t irrigate in summer and increase your farm productivity with an efficient fertilizing program.
6. Fertilize Professionally
Fertilizing is finding a relative between saffron plant needs and soil capabilities. To plan an efficient fertilizing program, we should know saffron plant requirements and soil components.
You can do one of the standard soil tests to identify your soil particles and components, and we are here to tell you what the saffron plant requirement is.
Also, we need a third factor, and that is strategy. It is a good management strategy that helps us arrive at our goals, and without a professional plan, we will be on the dark road. So, we need three factors for professional fertilizing, soil capabilities, saffron plant needs, and strategy.
A good and professional fertilizing program can have extraordinary effects on farm yields, and I would like to draw your attention to a real example.
We had a farm in a mountainous area and its average produce was 4 kg per hectare. The farm owner was unhappy and wanted more saffron and more bulbs. We analyzed his farm and found that he fertilized the farm with high nitrogen concentration fertilizers, and this leads to shrinking saffron bulbs and ultimately reducing saffron production.
High nitrogen concentration leads to severe stimulation of bubs propagation, which means a large number of tiny bulbs that are not useful.
Don’t Use Fresh Animal Manure
In the management process of the saffron farm, we have several fertilization stages, one of which is animal manure. The role of this fertilizing is to supply farm organic matter and is usually done at the end of summer and once every two years.
We have two types of animal manure, Rotten and fresh manure. The best and most efficient animal manure that we can use is rotted cow manure, as proven by multiple research and observation. The rotted cow manure has two main parts, rotted and cow.
Cow manure is the best animal fertilizing type for saffron farms, and the reason is that its nitrogen concentration is appropriate for the saffron bulb’s propagation process. The other animal manure, like poultry manure, has a high nitrogen concentration, leading to finely reproduced saffron bulbs.
Rotten cow manure does not contain any contamination and weed seeds and is very useful for fertilizing saffron fields. In contrast, fresh animal manure is rich in weed seed and is the main source of contaminants such as ticks and mushrooms.
7. Saffron Pests
Like other living things, Saffron plants can be under pest attacks; these attacks lead to decreased production and sometimes lead to destroying the whole farm. Some of these pests are Mice, rabbits, mites, hedgehogs, and grasses.
There are some ways to prevent or fight these pests, and there’s no problem. For example, we can use standard gas capsules or toxins on the market to control mice, but our priority is the organic method, and in this case, we can use natural ways that don’t harm saffron.
Also, we can use multiple methods for controlling grasses, and some of them are, using Physical weddings, Super Gallant herbicides, Rotten cow manure as a fertilizer, and more…
Check the Farm
Have you ever thought that what is your most important duty in saffron farm management? one of the most important duties is the regular check of the saffron farm.
You should check your saffron farms every week or at least twice a month. These checks help you find infections and diseases of saffron bulbs and prevent expanding disease between the whole bulbs. Every time you check the farm, go to some point of the farm, take out some bulbs, and examine them carefully.
After that, you can put the bulbs back in the soil and it will not cause any problems.
There is an excellent point about saffron bulb disease that can help us to control pests. If you have a bulb infected with ticks or fungi, these diseases will most likely not be transmitted to the next generation of onions. You can check this by propagated bulbs.
8. Saffron Harvesting
If you come to our farm in autumn, you can see saffron farms in such a condition. We should harvest saffron flowers early each day, and if we have a delay in doing work, our flowers get loss their quality step by step. In hot areas, harvesting starts at 4-5 am, and in cold regions, begins at 8-9 am.
Saffron harvesting can do by humans or machines. Of course, this process is usually done by children, and mechanized machines play a lesser role. Each of the workers can harvest an average of 5 kg of saffron flowers, and a 1-hectare saffron farm needs about ten workers for the harvest season.
We recommend that you predict the workforce before this season. At this time, you can’t find skilled people and your product may miss.
9. Cleaning and Drying
Same as the previous step, we should clean and dry as fast as possible. Whatever we are fast, our product will be better, and we can sell it better in market. Each of the saffron flowers must be separated into three parts;
In this step, we can decide what type of saffron we want to produce, and the best decision is based on an analysis of our target market. Based on our research favorite saffron of Arab countries, is all red saffron or Negin saffron, so if we want to export our saffron to Arab countries we will produce this type of saffron.
Do you know what the favorite saffron types of Spain are? Maybe it would be Pushal saffron.
After cleaning and separating saffron components, we should dry them. Saffron is naturally wet, and if we want to store it for a long time, we should reduce its humidity to 8%. This process can do by two methods.
- Naturally and by sun
- Saffron dryer machine
The first method is so long, and we should wait 2-3 days for drying saffron, and at this time, our saffron is exposed to environmental damage. But the second is simple: our saffron will be dried in 15min, and we have a marketable product.
Producing saffron is not the end of work, and we should clean and dry saffron threads. Also, we have some saffron types that have different demands and prices in the market. So, we can produce different saffron types and this should be done in the cleaning and drying process.
If you want to process saffron professionally, first look at your market and customers and find what they want. For example, our customers in Arabic countries love Super Negin saffron, So we put the production of this type of saffron on our processing program.
This choice should be made in cleaning and drying saffron stigmas and back to your production target. For example, if you want to produce Super Negin saffron, you should cut just the red part of the saffron stigma and then dry it fast and accurately.
You have a golden time exact before saffron bulbs flower to research the market trends and adapt to changes and market demands, don’t miss it.
10. Packaging and Sell
Farmers or traders can do this step, and it’s so important in the market. The standard packaging is 0.5g, 1g, 2g, 4.5 g, and more. An essential thing in packaging is attention to the rule of target country shops and target country culture.
- You are not own all the shelves of a store, and you just have limited space.
- Your packaging cost should be 10-40% of the product cost, and if you don’t follow this scale, you can’t compete.
- Don’t reduce product quality. Customers are alert.
- Please, and please don’t cheat.
Our practical guide to growing saffron is over, and now you have a good view of saffron planting. You can also learn more about each step through internal links in the content.
What do you think is the next step?
In the next step, we are here to help you directly to grow saffron on your farm and make a profit. Contact us by email or social media platforms.