Introduction to Saffron Farming Project Report, Cost and Profit
The following details are about Saffron Farming Project Report.
The world’s most expensive spice is the saffron spice. The spice saffron is derived from the plant Saffron Crocus. Saffron is a perennial herbaceous plant and is mainly used as a seasoning and coloring agent. The plant develops from corms attaining a height of about 20 to 35 cm. corms are earthy in color of about 2 to 3 cm in diameter with whitish coated fibers with the bulbous tuberous structure look. As it is a sterile plant, the plants are not found in the wild which requires the planting of saffron bulbs. This spice is assumed to be first cultivated near Greece and its origin is believed native to Iran. It grows in regions that have hot summers and cold winters. Bulbs or corms are the reproductive parts that give rise to 2 or 3 new ones each year. The aerial part of the plant is lost every year during the winter season. They have an adventitious root system from where leaves and flowers are born, the plant leaves are stemless between four to ten leaves that are dark green in color and are very narrow and long. Each plant bears about two to three flowers. The crocus flowers or saffron flowers are purple in color popularly called “saffron rose” consisting of six petals, three stamens, and with three red-orange stigmas. The delicate dried saffron threads are nothing but the stigmas and styles that are plucked from crocus flowers.
Because of its high cash value, saffron is known as ‘Golden Condiment’ throughout the world. As it is a low volume turnout crop in Indian agriculture, the commercial activity of saffron is termed as ‘Golden Zest’. For ages, saffron played an important role in rituals, traditions, and in religions. It is used in many dishes as a color and flavor agent. The uses of this spice are many, traditional and in modern medicine, it is extensively used as antiseptic, antispasmodic, anticancer, an antidepressant. While in herbal, it is used as an important ingredient for curing respiratory problems. Saffron is widely used in many industries as a dye in textiles, as an aroma in perfume making, and in many cosmetics.
Scientific / Botanical name of Saffron
The scientific name of domesticated saffron is known as Crocus sativus L. from the family Iridaceae.
Saffron in Indian Languages
Malayalam – കുങ്കുമം(kuṅkumaṁ),
Telugu – కుంకుమ(Kuṅkuma),
Kannada – ಕೇಸರಿ(Kēsari),
Tamil –குங்குமப்பூ (Kuṅkumappū),
Hindi – केसर(kesar),
Bangla – জাফরান(Jāpharāna),
Punjabi – ਭਗਵਾ(Bhagavā),
Other names of Saffron
Arabic – Zafaran
Sanskrit – KumKum
Kashmiri – Koung
Spanish – azafran
Italian – zafferano
English – Saffron
Saffron Farming Project Report – Saffron Varieties / Saffron Cultivars
The intensity of color, aroma, and flavor are derived from three active ingredients – crocin, safranal, and picrocrocin that are present in the saffron stigmas. Saffron is native to Southwest Asia for its climate and soil conditions. Spain, Iran, and India are the top producers and exporters of saffron. Kashmiri saffron is the excellent quality saffron in the world as it has a high content of crocin in it. The quality and value of saffron rely on the depth of saffron color. The three varieties that are most widely used in the world are:
Mongra or Lacha Saffron: These saffron (Crocus sativus ‘Cashmirianus’) stigmas are rich in texture; it’s the darkest of all varieties with its dark crimson red threads. It is easily distinguishable for its dark maroon-purple hue color. This variety grows well in Kashmiri soil and rarely found outside India and Kashmiri saffron is considered as the best saffron in the world. It’s rich in color, aroma, and flavor and is also very expensive.
Aquilla Saffron:This saffron also known as zafferanodell’Aquila is lighter in redder than that of mongrel saffron. It has high safranal with crocin content, but the threads are shorter than mongra variety hence the pricing is less than mongra. This variety is largely grown and has bulk production and export covering the world market. It is exclusively cultivated in the Navelli valley and Sardinia regions in Italy while Iran is the largest producer of this saffron in the world.
Spanish Superior and Crème Saffron:This variety thread flavor is lower in quality with the other varieties. This variety is commonly cultivated in America and in other countries. It is less effective and expensive than other varieties of saffron.
Growing Saffron in Container
Potted saffron adds a lot of beauty to the home during the autumn season. Choose a right container according to the bulbs that you want to plant. Fill the container with loamy soil, the soil plays an important role as soggy ones will not do well. Place the crocus bulbs with the pointed tip facing upwards in the soil followed by adding more soil over it. Keep the soil moist after planting the bulbs by watering the container. The plant appears with foliage in early spring, but with no flowers. As soon as summer starts the leaves dry up and the plant becomes dormant. When cooler weather starts there is a new set of leaves with blossoms. Saffron flowers look amazingly graceful with its beautiful lavender flowers over the green leaves.
Saffron Farming in Greenhouse
Much experimentation is going to cultivate saffron commercially in a greenhouse and in soilless farming conditions. Though the plants are growing well in greenhouse still much research is going on. There are a few farmers who started cultivating saffron in a greenhouse and making profits in small farmlands. There are other farmers who are slowly giving a try cultivating on a small scale under greenhouse conditions in other states in India. Till quantity and quality are approved in the open market, till then gardeners and young entrepreneurs can still give a try as this spice can still afford good price in the market.
Saffron Farming Project Report- Climate Requirement in Saffron Farming
Climatic conditions such as tropical or polar types are not suitable for saffron cultivation. The plant requires sunny and cold days with temperatures ranging from -15° to 35° C. They prefer warm, dry summers, cold winters, autumn and spring rainfall for a good cultivation. Saffron plants are heat tolerant they can survive in temperatures up to 40° C. March to May is the actual activity season of the plant while the May month is the flowering time. Extreme winters will dry-freeze the leaves, causing less development of corms leading less production for the next harvest. In regions of extreme winters, it is wise to protect the plants before frost season sets in either with straw or fiber cloth. New corms are developed in springtime, during this season if rainfall is less or inadequate, provide required irrigation this will help in developing more cormlets or daughter corms and with a higher yield of flowers.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Land preparation in Saffron Farming
Saffron corms grow in many different soil types, but for higher yield of saffron spice; clayey loam, calcareous or silty soils with rich humus and soil pH between 6 to 8 ranges is preferable. Soils must be well-drained or will lead to corm infection or be rotting. In semi-dry soils, proper land irrigation is provided during drought autumn and spring. However, the heavy clayey soil is not suitable for saffron cultivation while moisture retaining soils is also not a necessity as medium moisture during growing stage and extreme dryness during summer are highly favorable conditions leading to better production.
Prepare the land by tilling the ground two to three times deeply about 20 to 30 cm before starting the saffron cultivation. Loosen the soil and free the land from previous crop debris, stones, rocks, and soil clods by repeated plowing. Mix the land with well decomposed dry farmyard manure or compost at the time of plowing while the repeated plowing will help the subsoil come up increasing the fertility.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Propagation in Saffron Farming
Saffron is propagated by bulbs called ‘Corms’. New bulbs about two to three or even more are formed each season and this is how the plants are increased and multiplied.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Spacing in Saffron Farming
In saffron farming, spacing or planting of corms is mainly relied upon how frequently grubbing is planned. Grubbing means separating of daughter corms or cormlets that are formed or complete removing of corms from the ground, once separated and removed they are stored for next planting seasons. Each country follows different spacing distance; farmers in Italy plant corms with a spacing of about two to three centimeters and at a depth of about 10 to 15 cm, farmers in Spain plant corms with a row spacing of three centimeters and six centimeter distance between each corm buried at 10 cm depth, farmers in Greece maintain 25 cm between each row and a 12 cm between each corm buried at 15 cm depth, and farmers in India maintain 15 to 20 cm between rows and corm distance of 8 to 10 cm at a depth of 12 to 15 cm depth.
The best farming practice is to plant saffron in raised bed system. Each bed is raised up to a height of about 20 to 35 cm. The width of each bed or seedbed can be 60 to 80 cm. Arrange a walkway between beds to navigate along the saffron farm as you work to weed and for harvest. The spacing between each bed can be 25 cm.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Irrigation in Saffron Farming
Saffron plants are sensitive to excess water as it leads to root suffocation. Irrigation demand for saffron farming is relatively low. In small-scale farming fields, irrigation can be given through surface watering. For large saffron farming; sprinklers or drip irrigation is recommended. Saffron plants are resistant to waterlessness and adapt well to any type of irrigation. Irrigation at the time of flowering and bulb formation is very important.The other important thing a farmer has to observe is, roots must be well developed and check for buds before providing irrigation. Excessive foliage should be avoided before bud burst. A plant requires a supply of 40 ml of water per month. A good irrigation at the time of root growth and 20 to 24 days before blooming will yield large flowers. Watering must be given depending on the season, plant growth stages, and soil moisture content. For saffron farming in Kashmir valley, provide three irrigations on a weekly basis at the time of sprouting and provide three irrigations on a weekly basis at the post-flowering stage.
Saffron Farming Project Report- Manures and Fertilizers in Saffron Farming
Organic manure such as farmyard manure or compost of about 25 to 30 tonnes per hectare is required. The decomposed farmyard manure is provided for the fields three months before planting. Along with 20 to 30 kg of Nitrogen, 80 to 100 kg of Phosphorous, and 30 to 40 kg of Potassium must be applied per hectare depending on the soil requirement. Application of fertilizers after flowering is observed to be helpful in obtaining higher saffron production.
Saffron Farming Project Report- Intercultural Operations in Saffron Farming
To control weeds, proper mulching using sawdust will prevent weed growth. However, weedicides are most effective in controlling. Weeds will compete for food and light while saffron thistle weed is a hardy and prickly plant that causes plant injury with its sharp spines.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Pests and Diseases in Saffron Farming
Wood Mice:Wood mice and rodents are one of the major saffron crop and corm production destroyers. In winters and summer, wood mice and voles are fond of corms so they gather corms by digging tunnels under the ground causing greater damage to saffron farming.
They can be controlled by destroying the tunnels and their habitat. Baits and traps can also be used to check their numbers. Baits such as Zinc Phosphide (Zn3P2) or AluminiumPhosphide (AlP) pellets help in controlling these pests up to a great extent. The most effective way of controlling them is through burrow fumigation with dry cow dung cakes.
Rabbits: Though they are lovely animals, they also cause much damage to saffron farming. They mostly feed on leaves and flowers leading to the poor production of saffron threads.
The only way to control them is by installing proper field fencing.
Fusarium: When plants get infected with this fungal disease; corms and leaves get affected causes an orange colored band over them.
Violet Root Rot: This is also a fungal disease causing major damage when affected. The plant roots are affected by producing a damp rot. It is a contagious disease and commonly called as Saffron’s death (‘mort du Safran’) by local farmers in Kashmir valley.
Rhizoctonia: This is also a fungal infection causing brown ulceration and damping-off on the plants.
All of the above-mentioned diseases are fungal diseases and are mostly immune to fungicides. The fungal infection starts from the third or fourth year of plantation. To prevent these diseases, farmers have to dig up the corms to be replanted in other farming sites.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Harvesting in Saffron Farming
Saffron plant starts flowering from the first week of October till mid of November. There will be one week of intense flowering called ‘blanket days’ that will last for a week. Saffron flowers live only for two days. Harvesting of flowers should be done before their opening or while still sleeping, doing this way will ensure high-quality saffron stigmas or threads. Usually, early mornings are an ideal time to pick up flowers by cutting them with the aid of fingernails. Picked up flowers are collected in baskets that are made of reed, bamboo, willow, or rattan materials to avoid flower contamination. The harvested flowers are then brought for stripping. Here the stigmas are carefully separated from the flowers manually and painstakingly avoiding the white and yellow parts of the stigma by just taking the red part.
Saffron Farming Project Report-Drying:
The striped red parts of the stigma are exceedingly humid. They are to be dried up with a process known as toasting. The quality of the saffron spice mainly lies in the experience of the toaster who will undertake the toasting process. Dehydration or drying of stigmas is carried out at a temperature not exceeding 60° C with utmost care ensuring threads are not overdone. Stigmas size and weight will be reduced extremely. 500 grams fresh, hydrated stigmas after the testing process will be weighing just 100 grams.
There are different ways of running the toasting or drying process. The traditional old way is drying stigmas over hot coals. Spread the fresh threads evenly and loosely on a round vessel with wire mesh keeping a baking paper or soft cotton thin cloth. Electric ovens are another new method used for drying fresh threads. Maintaining the heat at 50° C while observing the threads carefully until they are dry enough to become brittle and fall away from each other. Maintain the room temperature of about 32° to 36° C for about 10 to 12 hours for bulk drying of saffron fresh threads. Nowadays Dehydrators are used for drying saffron threads. Care must be taken not to over dry as over dried threads will be less in grade and will have a direct effect on saffron thread pricing.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Storage: Dried up threads must be stored in a dry cool dark place. The top threads will be dark red in color while the bottom is dark orange in color. Cooled dry threads are then wrapped either in tissue or foil papers and kept in airtight jars or Aluminum containers for at least 30 days before they can be used.
Saffron Farming Project Report- Harvesting and Storing of Saffron Corms
In summer when the foliage begins to die back, break up the soil around each cluster of corms using a trowel. Gather the saffron corms by hand-picking from the loosened soil. Remove the basal plate where roots are attached and discard it. Separate the cormlets or small cormels from the main corm or mother corm. The young cormel will grow into a new plant for the next saffron farming season. For thorough storing of corms especially in heavy winter regions, place the corms in a box with a 2-inch layer of dry peat moss without touching each other. Add more peat moss to cover the corms in the box. Store the boxes with corms in a dry cool place until replanting in the next farming season.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Yield in Saffron Farming
Saffron is the only spice in the whole world that is sold in grams. A hectare of saffron farmland produces around 1.2 to 1.7 kg of saffron depending on corms quality under best farming practices. It takes about 150 flowers to give one gram of dry saffron. Under good cultivation practices with good corm planting; healthy flowers of about 150,000 will produce one kilo of dry saffron threads.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Cost and Profits in Saffron Farming
Economics in Saffron Farming:
Investment and Maintenance pattern on Saffron farming in the one-acre land. Pricing is subjective to change depending on the region of cultivation. The figures in this saffron farming project report are not accurate, but to give an understanding to young entrepreneurs on investment and the returns of the saffron business project.
From the next planting season, the farmer need not buy corms but rather the corms start producing cormlets about 3 to 6 from one mother corm. Hence the production value will increase approximately three times. Excluding labor charges and other investment cost.The young farmer can make profits more than six lakhs which will be increasing every season under best greenhouse cultivation and storage practices on each harvest thereon. For more profits the farmer has to cut down on labor cost by hiring only during the planting season and flowering season.
Saffron Farming Project Report – Marketing of Saffron
Saffron is the only spice that is used in many ways. It is widely used in cooking special dishes and bakery items. Saffron has many industrial usages such as in medicine, cosmetic, dye, dairy, tobacco, and alcohol industries. Saffron full threads which are not broken, vivid crimson coloring, elasticity, and slight moistness has more demand and value in the market. Saffron can be stored for a long duration. Apart from selling the saffron to the many industries, one can start selling the products directly to the end users through social media and online making huge profits.
Tips for Growing Saffron
- Saffron plant prefers soils that have nutrient content, light friable with loamy texture and well-drained.
- Saffron plant grows well in regions having winter chill and warm dry summer season.
- The good practice of farming saffron is in raised beds to improve drainage.
- Beds should be weed free.
- Plants are grown by corm multiplication as saffron is sterile.
- To harvest in April – May, planting of corms should be initiated in late January or early February.
- Daughter corms are produced more in shallow planting.
- Harvest flowers by pinching off at the base early mornings while still closed.
- Flowers are dried as soon as possible after harvesting.
- Achieve about 10% moisture using dehydration machines or any other drying method.
- Dried saffron threads are stored immediately in an airtight aluminum box or long neck porcelain jars that are placed in a dark and cool place to avoid bleaching.