Safflower Cultivation Guide:
Introduction of Safflower Cultivation:– Safflower (kusum, kusumbha, kardi) is one of the oldest cultivated annual oilseed crops which are well adapted to dry regions. The safflower seed also used to produce oil. Safflower is a thistle-like plant with a central branch stem, a varying number of branches and a tap-root system. Each branch has 1 to 5 yellow or orange flowers and contains 15 to 20 seeds. This crop seed contains about 30 to 40 % oil. In India, This safflower oil (golden yellow coloured) is largely used for cooking purposes. The main benefit of this seed is to produce cake after oil extraction which is being used as cattle feed. The green safflower crop can also be used as a green fodder for cattle and the livestock. When it comes to nativity of safflower, it is believed that safflower is native to Arabia region. However, this crop is grown most of the other parts of the world as well. India ranks first in the world with respect to acreage accounting for about 35 % of the world total production of safflower. Maharashtra and Karnataka states are major producers this crop in India. Safflower belongs to the family of “Asteraceae” and genus of “Carthamus”. The botanical name or scientific name of safflower is “Carthamus tinctorius L.”.
Health Benefits of Safflower:- The following are some of the health benefits of Safflower extract.
- Safflower oil is heart healthy.
- Safflower oil controls the blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
- Safflower oil is good for weight loss management.
- Safflower oil is good for immune system health.
- Safflower oil is good for skin and hair health.
- Safflower seeds have anti-ageing properties.
Common Name(s) of Safflower:- Safflower, zafran , bastard saffron , American saffron, false saffron, dyer’s saffron and Gami Honghwain.
Local Names of Safflower in India:– Kusuma (Hindi), Kusuma (Telugu), Kusambapoo (Tamil), Surya kanthi (Malayalam), કુસુમ (Gujarati), Surjomukhir (Bengali), Kardi (Punjabi), Kusube (Kannada).
Climate Required for Safflower Cultivation:– Basically, safflower crops is a cool season (Rabi) crop in India. This crop can be cultivated up to an elevation of 950 to 1000 meter above sea level. Normally, yield and oil content will go down with increase of elevation. The ideal temperature required for this crop is 22°C to 35°C for high yields. The ideal gemination temperature of safflower seed is about 15°C. Temperature plays important role in safflower cultivation. However, high temperatures at flowering stage and temperatures below zero degrees Celsius are harmful for the crop. When it comes to rainfall requirement, this crop is suitable in regions with annual rain fall of 60 to 100 cm and this crop is not suitable in area where heavy rainfall is expected as excessive rainfall or humidity increases the infestation of fungal diseases. Safflower is sensitive to frost conditions and waterlogged conditions cause the crop damage..
Soil Requirement for Safflower Cultivation:– Safflower crop can be grown in wide range of soils like sandy loams, clay loams and alluvial shallow and light textured soils. However, well-drained fertile deep soils are the best for safflower cultivation. Low-laying areas should be avoided as waterlogged situations are prone to crop damage. If the crop is grown on large scale, it is advised to go for soil test to find out the fertility of soil. Safflower crop can also be grown successfully in salt affected areas
Land Preparation for Safflower Cultivation:– Land should be ploughed couple of times to bring the soil to fine tilth stage. Any weeds should be removed from previous crops. Any clods should be crushed and levelled in such a way that there won’t be any water logging.
Seed Preparation and treatment in Safflower Cultivation:-The safflower crop requires a clod-free seedbed with sufficient moisture for good germination and establishment of seedlings. Any clods should be crushed to make the soil levelled. The seeds of safflower should be treated with captan or agrosan GN @ 3 grams/kg seed before sowing in the field.
Propagation, Sowing and Spacing in Safflower Cultivation:- Propagation is done by seeds. In India, usually this is sown as Rabi season crop from October to November. Avoid late sowing as this may result in low yield due to high temperatures before maturity of the crop. Actually, sowing time depends on the region/states. When it comes to spacing for pure or solo crop, row spacing of 45-50 cm x 20-25 cm and for mixed crop or intercrop, row spacing of 20-25 cm x 20-25 cm and for rainfed crop, a row spacing of 60 cm x 30-35 cm should be followed. Safflower is usually planted at a depth of 30 to 45 mm. On an average, 10 kg of seeds are enough for covering 1 hectare land. Again seed rate depends on the area and variety. Healthy seeds of improved varieties should be selected for sowing. Find the high yielding cultivar for your region from agriculture department.
Irrigation in Safflower Cultivation:- In India, this crop is mostly grown in areas where less rain fall is expected and no availability of irrigation. However, one can expect higher yields with irrigation. If the soil has enough moisture at the time of sowing, it is very likely to respond to irrigation. Watering or moisture in the soil is very important at the time of flowering and grain filling stages, hence one irrigation in a month should be provided after planting as this helps in better growth of the safflower crop.
Weed Management in Safflower Cultivation:- Weed competition is a serious problem in safflower cultivation. You should have good weed control program to get maximum yield. Weed control is critical task in safflower cultivation and this crop is very susceptible to weed competition using its rosette stage. The weeding can be controlled manually or mechanically (chemically) as part of intercultural operations in safflower cultivation. Timely weeding is important and should be carried out one in 2 to 3 weeks. Pre-emergence application of atrazine @ 0.75 kg/ha should be applied control the weeds effectively. Give one additional intercultural or hoeing using manual/bullock-drawn hoes/harrows/sweeps in December well before the crop canopy is closed and the spines become problematic.
Inter crop in Safflower Cultivation:- Safflower is more popular as a mixed or intercrops with other Rabi crops such as wheat, sorghum, linseed, coriander and gram than as sole or pure crop. A sole crop of safflower is, however, more profitable.
Manures and Fertilizers in Safflower Cultivation:- Generally, well rotten farm yard manure of 20 tonnes/ha should be applied during land preparation at the time of last ploughing. When it comes to N:P (P2O5):K (K2O) application, 40:40:20 kg/ha should be applied at the time of sowing. The fertilizers should be applied in furrows 9-10 cm deep and 4-5 cm away from the seed at the time of planting.
Crop Rotation in Safflower Cultivation:– Crop rotation is very important in safflower cultivation. Safflower crop is mostly grown as a mixed crop with wheat, barley, gram, lentil, Rabi sorghum, coriander. Three rows of safflower are planted after every 9, 12 or more rows of main crop. Safflower is sown as a border crop around wheat, barley, gram, Rabi sorghum and coriander plots in order to prevent trespass by cattle or any other animals. A pure or solo crop is rotated with green gram, cowpea, black gram, groundnut, sorghum, upland rice, soybean, maize, cotton, pearl millet, Setaria, sesame etc. in different parts of the country. Safflower crop should never be grown on the same field for two consecutive years.
Pests and Diseases in Safflower Cultivation:– The most serious diseases in safflower cultivation are alternaria leaf spot and pseudomonas bacterial blight. Another important factor is safflower should never be planted on the same field for 2 consecutive years. Safflower crop is relatively free of insect attacks and in case of any pests, contact local agriculture department.
Note: Contact your local Agriculture department for pests and disease symptoms and their control. They are the best source for disease control solutions in safflower cultivation.
Harvest and Threshing in Safflower Cultivation:– Safflower crop will be ready for cutting when most of the leaves turn into brown and the stems are dry, but not brittle. Seeds should rub off freely from the least mature heads. Usually, the high yielding varieties of safflower mature in 4 to 5 months. Cut the plants with the help of sharp sickles at the base stalk them in the field fry up fully. For easy handling and transport to the threshing yard, use socks and gloves made from gunny bags to protect legs and hands against spines. Thresh the safflower seeds either by beating with sticks or with the help of bullocks drawn stone-rollers.
Yield in Safflower Cultivation:- Yield depends on many factors like seed variety, climate, soil type and crop management practices. On an average, one can expect 1.5 to 2.5 tonnes/ha from safflower crop depending on seed cultivar and other factors.
Marketing of Safflower Seeds:– Generally, seeds can be transported to local markets or oil mills.
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