Saffron or Crocus Sativus is from the genus Lily and its red stigmas are located among the purple leaves
Saffron or Crocus Sativus is from the genus Lily and its red stigmas are located among the purple leaves. After harvesting this plant and drying its stigmas, it is used as a spice and coloring in food. Familiarity with the saffron plant is very important for planting because several factors affect it. The temperate climate, the choice of soil and the right time to cultivate are some of the factors that can affect the quality of the saffron plant. For this reason, it should be said that the saffron plant from the earliest stages, requires special care and consideration, and in the face of heat or humidity during harvest may lose its properties and be damaged. Follow us to introduce you to the life of the saffron plant.
Stages before saffron cultivation
To get acquainted with the saffron plant and its planting, you must first check the environmental conditions. This plant usually grows in mild temperate climates. Of course, in some cases, the saffron plant adapts to the environment; For example, Hamedan, despite being cold, has achieved good results in saffron cultivation.
Preparing healthy and high-quality onions is very important at this stage because saffron onions are very sensitive to environmental pollution and fungi. For this reason, it is better to choose it with an experienced or expert person. After preparing the onion, it is necessary to plant it as soon as possible; Because saffron onions are exposed to the risk of pests in the open air.
Another important point that should be well considered in the stages before saffron cultivation is the soil used. If the soil is a mixture of sand and its pH is between 7 and 9 to 8, it is suitable for growing saffron and you must remove weeds and debris from it before planting.
The best time to grow saffron is between August and October. To prepare the ground, the soil is usually plowed deep in the second half of the year. If it is not possible to plow during this period, they will do so in June and July.
Accuracy in the pre-cultivation stages of saffron is very important. Choosing good soil, good onions, and successful land preparation steps, along with choosing a suitable climate, can continue saffron cultivation for up to 10 years. Because saffron onion can stay in the soil for about 10 years and produce flowers.
After soil preparation and in August or September, animal manure with ammonium phosphate is required to be added to the soil. Under these conditions, the soil will be ready to accept saffron onions.
Familiarity with saffron plant and its cultivation
To cultivate saffron, holes are dug in a row. Three to 15 onions can be placed in each hole. These onions are placed at a depth of 15 to 20 cm above the ground with the head facing up. As mentioned, saffron onions are very sensitive and should be planted in the soil as soon as possible. You will need at least five people to do this, and one person will be specifically responsible for digging the holes. One person will be responsible for selecting the cultivable onions.
After placing the onions in the right depth and position, they fill it and then the roughness is taken with a trowel or shovel and the soil is smoothed. After planting, if irrigation is done before planting, they will not be irrigated until autumn. Before watering, it is necessary to add rotten animal manure to the soil, so the soil should not be fresh at all. This watering should be done 15 days before the stem comes out of the soil, which will usually be in early October.
Cultivating and harvesting saffron
Saffron is a plant that shows high resistance to dehydration. But the irrigation process must be done carefully. Early watering in the fall can cause the leaves to grow prematurely. This early growth makes it difficult to pick saffron flowers, and some of these flowers may be destroyed.
One of the useful things to do for saffron is to break the soil after the first irrigation. This is done by a plow. The sensitivity of this step is high because the onions may be damaged. If you do the pruning correctly, principledly and in a timely manner, the soil will be better mixed with fertilizer and the way out for the saffron flower will be facilitated
Weeds are always growing and you need to weed them in time as well as clean them before planting. Weeding is usually done after the second irrigation.
If you do the planting and maintenance steps correctly, saffron flowers will bloom from mid-November. Of course, it should be noted that for the first year, a limited number of planted onions reach the final crop. Therefore, a low yield in the first year will not indicate that the saffron cultivation process was done wrong. But it is better to discuss the details of the work process with an agricultural specialist or an experienced farmer.
To get acquainted with the saffron plant, you should also pay attention to its growing period. Three weeks after the first flower grows, it will be time to start the harvest operation. This operation will last between 15 days to a month.
The best time to do the daily harvest is before sunrise until 9 am, which is called the golden time.
After separating the saffron flowers, they are placed in the shade and then the red stigmas are removed from the flowers. These stigmas are left in batches in the sun to dry. Of course, there are several methods for drying saffron, which we will describe below.
To get acquainted with the saffron plant, you should also pay attention to its drying method. There are several ways to do this. It should be noted that the saffron plant is very sensitive to environmental pollution even after harvest. As a result, it is necessary to dry with high accuracy and according to health issues. Types of saffron drying methods are:
1. Spanish method
This method, also known as the sieve and heater method, is very popular among farmers due to its low cost. To dry saffron with this method, you first need to prepare special nets for this purpose. Each net will have a capacity of 150 to 200 grams of saffron. Expose these nets to indirect heat at 75 degrees and wait between 15 and 20 minutes.
After this time, put another net on the present one and turn the whole system upside down so that the dried saffron is poured into the bottom net. Then put the dish back on the heater and wait for 15 to 20 minutes. After a maximum of four times and spending about an hour, all the initial saffron will dry. Rapid transfer to a storage container and a suitable place (dry and cool) will be crucial at this stage.
While being cheap and fast, this method comes with disadvantages as well. Reaching heat to the nutrients in saffron will reduce their nutritional value. In fact, if this method is performed correctly, the quality of the initial saffron will still decrease; But usually due to lack of experience and inadvertent mistakes, the rate of this quality loss is even greater.
Excessive drying of saffron is also harmful. In fact, the best way to dry saffron should be with moisture control, which is not possible in the Spanish method.
۲. The classical method
In the classical or traditional method, saffron is exposed to the sun or placed in a room with a suitable temperature and in special containers. These containers should have small holes for aeration and be turned upside down every few days (for complete drying of saffron). Some farmers place the dishes on the floor or table surface, and some hang the dishes from the ceiling.
Drying saffron in the sun, despite being cost-effective, is not hygienic at all. It was mentioned earlier that saffron plant is highly sensitive to fungi, pests and other environmental pollutants. In general, the classical method is not approved by agricultural experts and specialists and will cause problems such as excessive dryness, mold, reduced crop yields, etc.
.3. Modern method (instrumental)
This method is actually the Spanish method that is done with a special device and with the possibility of controlling humidity during operation. Not too dry and not too dark saffron are the special advantages of the modern method. The device used in the modern method includes a sieve with a silk net and a heat source, in which the saffron can be dried with higher quality and accuracy than the home type.
Although this method is not ideal, it will increase the efficiency of the existing product for sale as much as possible. Dried saffron in this method will have a high nutritional value and will have a natural and beautiful color. This method is also scalable and will be suitable for mass cultivation.
4. Miscellaneous methods
There are many ways to dry saffron so far. Various devices have been made in this direction. The solar dryer consists of the layers on which the stigmas are placed. Other devices include freezer dryers, electric ovens and tunnel dryers (air transfer dryers).
One of the special methods for drying saffron is vacuum drying, which is used to fully preserve heat-sensitive nutrients.
Familiarity with the saffron plant will help you to store it well. Because maintaining its quality, both at home and in the warehouse will be a sensitive task.
The best way to store saffron is to use metal shelves. The temperature and humidity of the storage environment must be completely controlled and kept low. High temperature reduces the properties of saffron and moisture reduces its taste and color. If you use the Spanish method, it is best to pack the products immediately after drying.
After performing the above steps, your warehouse will have favorable conditions for storing saffron. These conditions require a minimum of monthly defiance. To store saffron at home, it is best to grind it and put it in a sealed container.
Saffron is a medicinal and edible plant that is becoming more and more popular among the people of the world. Trade through the cultivation and sale of saffron is one of the best ways to earn money in today's world. To do this, however, it is necessary to be aware of the sensitivities and complexities of saffron cultivation.
In fact, unintentionally entering this field not only does not yield profit but can also be very harmful. Because this plant is as rare and expensive as it is sensitive, and from the earliest stages of cultivation, your smallest mistake can do the most damage. But getting to know the saffron plant, studying, consulting and entering consciously can turn you into a successful entrepreneur or farmer and turn the wheel of the economy.