The answer to this question is back to multiple factors and before that, we want to say Where does saffron grow in the US? we should ask you, What is the scale of your cultivation? How much is your investment? What is your ability and skill in agriculture? and etc.
But In short, the best condition and our first choice are growing saffron in USDA hardiness zone 6-9, and after that, we can grow saffron in zones 4, 5, and 10. For growing saffron in the 4 and 10 zones, we should do some supporting help to survive and save saffron bulbs.
Also, we can grow saffron in the 3 and 4 zones at the home scale or we can try greenhouse saffron cultivation. These zones have hard climates and probably we can’t plant saffron economically and effectively in these areas. Finally, the conditions of each point must be examined separately.
Grow Saffron on the Home Scale
Growing saffron indoors is one of our choices, we can plant saffron corms in pots and harvest saffron for at least 7 years. This can be a good trial method for entering the saffron planting world. If you are in doubt about planting saffron and want to earn some experience, this is yours.
Saffron Growing Zone
When we want growing saffron on the farm scale, that means we have an economic target and we should have complete research about our region and select the best strategy. Saffron planting is a good opportunity for some farmers that have summer crops and wants to have a revenue stream for fall and winter.
As we said, we can grow saffron in the USDA hardiness zone 6-9 simply and without any serious problem. But there are some other affective factors that can affect our saffron production rate.
We should consider factors such as soil pattern, farmer experience and skills, saffron irrigation conditions, and some of the other things that we speak about them completely here and in our blog.
Grow Saffron in USDA Hardiness Zone 4
Let’s talk a little bit about a Vermont saffron cultivation experience. Cobble Creek Nursery is a wholesale grower of trees and shrubs in Monkton, VT.
We planted two slightly raised beds about 120 feet long. The beds were 3 feet wide with the corms planted 6 inches deep and 6 inches apart in staggered rows. The first fall our harvest only yielded a disappointing 150 flowers.
This is natural and in most saffron farms we will not have a significant product in the first year. The first year is the compatibility time and saffron bulbs should spend it to decrease stress due to bulb movement.
The Rest of the Experiences
The second harvest in the fall of 2018 was a bountiful 65 grams (10,000+ saffron flowers).
Our fall 2019 harvest was even better at about 80 grams even though the season was shortened in November with a below normal cold snap. November 8th saw 3 inches of snow, November 11 and 12 a few more inches. Then we had a low of 3 degrees Fahrenheit on the morning of the 13th and similar lows on the 14th. At this time there was still 3-5 inches of snow covering the saffron beds that insulated the ground, corms and lower saffron foliage.
One of the important risks in the 4 and 5 zones is the cold climate and frostbite of saffron bulbs. In most cases, nothing special will happen to saffron and they will tolerate these conditions. But in sudden and severe shocks we should do some supportive activities to save bulbs.
In conclusion, those of us that are growing Saffron in areas where winter temperatures hit -15 F or colder after Jan 1, or get unexpected cold snaps earlier in the winter, should make plans for protection. After our experience from November 2019 we now use heavy grade winter blankets when needed for temporary protection. The blankets are made of spun bonded polypropylene similar to Remay row covers but much thicker.
Also, we can have a rich fertilizing program for strengthening and supporting saffron bulbs against cold shock. First, do a complete test on your soil to know what is your soil needs, and then research between the best brands and select fertilizer for your saffron farm.
We do some research on the specific nutritional needs of the saffron plant and release it soon. Saffron fertilizing can increase saffron farm productivity to 50% per year and we should be sensitive about it. If you want to earn more information about saffron fertilization or want to Consult about saffron planting, you can contact us.
An Experience of Wells River, Vermont
They began a test plot for saffron in 2018 and continued testing for 2 years. Their initial 2,000 corms produced about 10 grams of saffron for them in their first year. The following year, they harvested one ounce (28g) of saffron. Inspired, they
expanded to half an acre in 2020, seeking to host 120,000 corms.
This is a journey, we can’t plant thousands of bulbs at once without any experience and skills. We should start with a low scale and then extend it to a mature business. Every year that passes you will have new insight into the work.
Zaka notes that you need to expect a lot of hard work. Both labor force and proper preparation are incredibly important. Jette notes that while flowers could be held overnight, the crop will be lost on the second day. Processing needs to be done immediately to ensure the highest quality.
This is the important point that we mentioned several times. The saffron harvesting process and saffron cleaning process should be done fast as you can. When flowers arise, we should harvest them fast, and otherwise, there get destroyed step by step.
A saffron farm in Northern California
Peace and Plenty are an organic, 7-acre market garden and saffron farm based in Northern California.
Their organic saffron fields were first established in 2017, where they planted 7000 corms in 6000 sq. ft. Their yield that first year was about 25 grams. They lost an estimated 30% of their corms to gophers and voles, leading them to dig up all remaining corms in 2018, which amounted to around 50,000+ corms.
What was their solution to this problem?
These corms were then planted inapproximately 10,000 sq. ft. of raised beds made of hardware cloth. Their yield from the raised beds that year amounted to 325 grams. They have not seen any apparent losses to rodents since the switch to raised beds. In 2019, they decided to add an additional 10,000 sq. ft. of new beds and 22,000 corms. This decision led to a yield of 1.2 kg. The following year, with no new additions, the yield nearly doubled, increasing to 2.2 kg.
Of course, there are multiple ways for pest control and we are not forced to change our saffron cultivation bed. We can do some simple preventing work to avoid these problems.
One of the important problems that farmers are involved in is the supply of labor in the harvest season. Saffron harvesting season has dense and heavy workload and if you won’t be ready, you may miss your products. This problem was correct until some years before.
But now, there are multiple and various saffron planting machines that help us to do our work on the saffron farm. In fact, the most sensitive and dense work on the saffron farms is harvesting saffron and now we have saffron harvesting machines that can do this for us.
As we said, if we want to plant saffron at home, we can do this everywhere in the world and we have no limitations. If we want to have a saffron farm in the US, we should consider lots of factors, but we can do it more simply in the USDA hardiness zone 6-9 and we can do it in 4,5, and 10 by considering the circumstances and taking some supportive measures.
In any case, our team with high experience in the field of saffron planting is ready to cooperate with you in this field. We will answer your questions as soon as possible.
Source of experiences