Saffron: Learn origin, medicinal uses, modern cultivation, manuring & harvesting

Saffron Cultivation Technique

Introduction:

Saffron (Crocus sativus) is perennial crop bearing bulb with 15-25 cm height of Irridaceae family. It is believed to be originated from United Kingdom & Asia. Bunch of 10-15 leaves arise from its bulb. Purple color flower develops which consists of three red dwarf stigma which are the useful part of saffron. Once the bulb is planted, it can be cultivated for 10-15 years continuously. Temperature less than 5 degree & higher than 20-degree Celsius cause retard in plant growth. Temperature higher than 35-degree Celsius cause mortality of saffron plant.

Uses & Health benefits:

Stigma & anther`s powder of saffron is used in reducing mental & sensory stress. It is also widely used in increasing sex stimulation, treating fever, tiredness, Liver swelling. It is also used in coloring medicine, abortion of baby in female. Its bulb can be used as drugs. It is used in food flavoring, confectionary but its wild use is in medical sector. It has ability to inhibit carcinogenesis as well as anti-tumor activity.

Saffron is golden asset in medical biology in the present generation.

Cultivation technique:

Climate:

It can be cultivated from 1500-2500 m altitude above sea level from Eastern region to central region mid hills area having sub-tropical climate. This area prevails average temperature of 15degree Celsius. However, area with snow & frost are not suitable for this crop.

Soil:

For this crop, soil with slight alkaline sandy soil with good drainage is essential. Clayey & water logging soil will prevent bulb development during the early growing periods.

Field preparation & Manuring:

For saffron cultivation, field is ploughed for 2-3 times to make light loose soil free of weed & crop debris finally making fine soil. As like in onion & garlic beds with smaller width must be prepared for this crop. During the period of land preparation, incorporate 500 kg well decomposed FYM, mustard cake 10-15 days before planting. During planting of bulb, apply 6kg DAP, 2.5 kg Triple super phosphate per ropani. Similarly, urea is top dressed during Falgun month @ 1kg.ropani which makes better crop growth.

Planting season:

  1. Separate bulb durng Bhadra.
  2. Plant bulb in different places in tray.
  3. Transplant the growing bulb during Mangsir from the tray.

Planting Methods:

It can be planted by either conventional or modern method. Modern method of planting is discussed below: –

  • Initially the bulb of saffron is graded into small, medium & large size.
  • Grading is done during Bhadra month.
  • Graded bulb is planted in wooden tray during Aswin month.
  • After few days, bud appear sprouting from the bulb.
  • Remove the other sprouts keeping the main sprouting bud of bulb of size equal to 10 grams & around.
  • Bulb with weight grater than 10 grams are kept arranged in trays. In these bulbs, before developing leaves flowering spront develops. Bulb with 2-5 spront are transplanted in prepared field.
  • For large bulb, 5 spront are kept while for small spront only one spront is kept for flower growing.
  • Bulb growing in trays are transplanted during Mangsir month.
  • The plant starts yellowing during Baisakh-Jestha month & after 50% yellowing they are harvested like onion or garlic with bulb. They are then hanged making small bundles where gentle air flow occurs.

Irrigation:

Irrigation is essential to supply at certain intervals for successful crop cultivation. Long time water logging during irrigation is not good for this crop. light irrigation is preferred. It is cultivated in different ways in different countries like irrigated crop in Spain, crop completely replaced in every 3years & annual crop in Italy.

Inter-culture:

Saffron can be cultivated in fruit orchard. It is cultivated as inter-cultural crop in orchard where, removing of fallen leaves in orchard should be carried out to mak the saffron field clean. It is especially inter-cultured in apple, walnut, kagaji Badam etc. where their fallen leaves do not block the sunlight making no yield loss.

Crop Harvesting:

  • The flower grows in Kartik – Mangsir month whereby harvesting in this crop indicates the flower picking.
  • Pluck the flowers after the morning sunlight dries the dew in the crop leaves.
  • Dwarf stigma which are red in color are separated from flowers & dried in sun or artificial heat.
  • Artificial drying involves Bhatti drying which cause no burning of stigma placed in sieves.
  • Quality of saffron depends on removing of anther & processing technology.
  • For saffron cultivation, whole flower is dried for 3 to 5 days & beaten with stick & sieved using sieve.
  • After sieving, the obtained harvest is dipped in water where floating materials are kept separately while sink portion is dried which is the pure separation of stigma of saffron. Remaining floating portion & non sieved portion is further subjected to drying & hitting with stick with the same process like before.
  • Stigma are kept in between papers with anthers in Bhatti, the paper on placing in between thick board makes it like cake which is ready saffron for marketing.

 

Yield:

From saffron cultivated in 1ropani area, 3 kg fresh flower can be harvested from where 100 grams dried saffron cake can be obtained. Yield will be less in first year but it will be maximum from 3rd to 6th year of planting.

Plant protection:

Diseases:

  1. Leaf blight
  2. White mold
  3. Downy mildew

Pests:

  1. Thrips

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