Saffron Farming in India

Saffron Farming is a good profitable Agri farming. Stigmas of Saffron is expensive agricultural produce. Saffron is mostly cultivated in temperate climate regions. However, the farmer can also do Saffron cultivation in tropical climate conditions like in South India. Farmers can cultivate Saffron in states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and other South Indian states.

In this post, we will let you know about Saffron farming in Telangana and AndhraPradesh

Saffron Farming Package of Practices

Saffron cultivars/ varieties suitable for growing in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh:

  • American saffron and
  • Red gold Saffron cultivars.

Climate requirement for Saffron cultivation

Saffron plants as well as flowers grow well in a temperate and sub-tropical climate with sunny days and flourish best at an altitude of 2140 meters height above MSL. Saffron plants require a mean temperature of 6 ̊ to 8 ̊C at night and 18 ̊ to 20 ̊C during day times during the months of October and November provide a pleasant climate for better saffron flower bloom. These plants prefer cold winters, autumn and spring rainfall, and warm dry summers with annual rainfall ranging from 800mm -900 mm. Rainfall during spring is favorable for corm multiplication and early autumn rains boost the saffron flower production.

Soil/ Land preparation:

Plough the land 3 to 5 times at a  depth of about 30 cm during the months of May to July. Add 10 tons of well-decomposed FYM (Farm Yard Manure) and is sufficient for one acre of land in order to keep the soil in loose form and it helps in rapid corm multiplication in the soil.

pH requirement for Saffron Farming:   4.5-6

Relative Humidity requirement:       30%-40% is enough for Saffron cultivation.

Saffron Corm sorting :

Corms with a diameter ranging from 2.5 cm to 3 cm weighing about 8 grams and above are ideal for higher saffron production as well as productivity. Saffron corms must be free from mechanical injuries and disease lesions are sorted out as well as the outer loose scales are removed before the planting.

Saffron Corm treatment against disease

The incidence of corm rot disease is 46% in traditional saffron growing areas. Corm rot of saffron caused b fungal plant pathogens such as  Fusarium oxysporum and Fusarium solani is considered to be most destructive in Kashmir. Saffron corm treatment must be done with fungicides viz., 150 g of Mancozeb 75 W.P. @ 0.3% and 50 g of Carbendazim 50 W.P. @ 0.1% in 50 liters of water before planting to control corm rot disease. The graded corms are dipped in the fungicidal suspension (Mancozeb and Carbendazim) for about 5-10 min. Saffron corms are then taken out and spread on a clean cloth and then allowed to dry in shade for another 10 to 15 min  in order to drain off the excess moisture.


Corm Planting in Saffron cultivation     

Saffron corms are planted from 2nd    fortnight of August to 1st  fortnight of September month in 2m × 3m stripes with a width of 30 cm and a depth of 15 cm drainage channels on both the sides. Sowing of Saffron corm is done by hand dropping behind plough after the bed formation. The corms are planted in furrows at an inter-row distance of 20 cm to 30 cm and inter-corm distance of 10 cm to 15 cm with a depth of 15 cm @1 corm per hill with a planting density of about 2300 corms/acre with a seed rate of 2.5 quintals/acre resulted in the production of quality planting material with a maximum proportion of flower producing corms.

Nutrient management in Saffron farming       

Application of N, P (P2O5), and K (K2O) in the form of Urea, DAP, and MOP in the ratio of 36:24:16 kg respectively is recommended for one acre of area. A full dose of well rotten FYM (10 ton/ acre), vermicompost (5 quintals/ acre), Phosphorus, Potassium, and half dose of Nitrogen should be applied at the time of second hoeing and the remaining half quantity of Nitrogen must be applied at the time of 3rd hoeing.

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Weed management in Saffron cultivation     

  Weeding, as well as hoeing, are done to destroy weeds as well as to aerate the saffron corm beds. 1st  hoeing is done during the month of June and 2nd hoeing in September month before the flower appears with the aid of a short-handled hoe called Zoon. Weeding is also practiced during the months of  December to April to promote daughter corm production after the flowering is over. Herbicides like Ioxynil (750 g a.i./ ha) and Tribenoronmethyl (18.75 g a.i./ ha), when sprayed at the 6-8 leafy stage of weeds were highly effective in controlling the weeds. The application of Metribuzin (560 gm a.i./ ha) in spring or autumn controls the weeds to a large extent without any injury to the main crop (saffron).

Water management           Saffron crop requires ten irrigations and must be sprinkler irrigated at 700 m3/ha at an interval of seven days at the sprouting stage (25th August to 15th September) followed by three irrigations at the post-flowering stage (8th November to 30th November) at weekly intervals.

Harvesting of  Saffron       

The harvesting of saffron flowers starts from the 1st  week of October and continues till the mid of November. Each flower lives only for a period of 48 hrs. That is why saffron is a huge value crop. The picking of saffron flowers should be done in the early morning before their blooming. The Saffron flowers must cut from the plant near to the ground with fingernails. The Saffron flowers are collected in clean wicker baskets in order to avoid contamination. The number of Saffron flowers required per kg of standard saffron of Kashmir varies between 2680 and 3840.

Post-harvest handling practices  (3 following steps)

i.          Saffron stigma sorting

ii.         Saffron drying

iii.        Packaging and storage of saffron stigmas

i. Sorting of Stigmas from Flowers:   The separation of stigmas is the main step for the quality of the final product. Sort out the stigmas within 10-12 hrs of flower picking to achieve maximum pistil recovery. Delay in sorting for 36 hrs -72 hrs results in loss of recovery from 37 gm/kg of fresh saffron flowers.

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ii. Drying of stigmas:   This step is the most important part of the whole procedure of saffron processing. Drying of saffron is done by 02 different methods. The farmers usually practice the traditional method in which stigmas are spread out on large surfaces and left to dry which takes about 27 hrs to 53 hrs under shade leaving moisture of about 8% to 10%. A longer drying period of 27 hrs to 53 hrs adversely affects the quality, possibly due to both biodegradation and oxidative destruction of the principal components of Saffron. The alternate method of saffron stigmas drying is artificial drying in which the high temperature of about 40±5˚C is applied on the stigmas through hot air streams through the saffron stigmas.

iii. Packaging and storage of Saffron stigmas:  This is the most important as well as significant procedures for preserving the initial quality of the saffron spice. The Saffron farmers usually store saffron in earthen pots or polythene bags without taking care of moisture. Saffron with an initial moisture content of 8% to 10% is stored at an ambient temperature of 100C in airtight containers safely for a period of six months.

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Conclusion: This is all bout saffron farming in India with respect to saffron cultivation in Telangana as well as Andhra Pradesh. For more information, comment below.