To see the history of saffron click on this link
This colorful spice (saffron plant) needs a special condition to grow.
To get more information about this magical spice and its properties and benefits, click on the link Saffron blogs
Trading saffron has made many individuals, companies and even governments think of other ways to cultivate Saffron en masse.
Many people have tried to reduce the saffron price of this plant by extensive cultivation, but they have not succeeded.
One of these countries that has made so many efforts on this project is China.
This country has the highest amount of use of Saffron so they have been looking for a way to cultivate this product in their own country for several years.
Due to the high cost and consumption of this seasoning, many extensive studies have been conducted in China on greenhouse cultivation of saffron.
Of course, it should be mentioned that this method may produce a large amount of saffron, but the quality of Iranian naturally grown saffron is much higher; however, the price of natural saffron is so high that it still seems economical to cultivate saffron in greenhouses.
It is said that this method has been invented by a Chinese student.
This student did a lot of research on saffron cultivation, and he did it in the backyard of his house by just buying a few saffron flowers, and after a short time, he earned good money that he no longer went to the office where he worked.
In 2003, the Chinese government monopolized saffron greenhouse cultivation.
This method is very easy, cheap and profitable so it has been considered by many countries in recent years.
For comparison the cost of traditional cultivation and greenhouse cultivation of saffron please refer to chart below
Why should we grow saffron in the greenhouse?
In this type of planting, the amount of crop is ten times more than traditional method.
By prioritizing the water crisis in the country, this type of cultivation is the best method in order to manage water consumption.
In greenhouse cultivation, due to the use of large and high quality saffron plant and disease-free plant bulbs, and keeping in the best temperature and environmental conditions, the crop yield is much higher than the traditional method, so that the harvest of dried stigmas in the traditional method is seven kilograms per hectare on average.
This amount has reached to average 23 to 25 kilometers per hectare in the greenhouse cultivation method.
In traditional cultivation, the flower stigma is exposed to sunlight, which destroys the aroma, coloring power and the taste of the stigma.
In the new method of planting saffron in the greenhouse, we are not facing this problem anymore, which also increases the quality of the stigma which is really important by considering the needs and competition atmosphere in the global market and the accuracy of countries that are looking for a good and high quality product.
Harvesting saffron with this quality has a high value in the world marketing and is several times more expensive than other products.
Currently, hygienic products are most valued in all societies.
The traditional cultivation of saffron flowers does not have proper hygiene, because of being in an unsuitable environment and contacting with soil and animal manure.
The greenhouse cultivation method has another trump card compared to the traditional cultivation because it has a very suitable and hygienic environment and is completely away from any kind of pollution.
In the traditional method, plant bulbs are buried under the soil for a very long time away from sight and access, which increases the disease in bulbs and the soil.
On the other hand, in modern cultivation bulbs are accessible so the necessary health cares are done easily.
We are currently facing an unemployment crisis in the country due to drought and some other reasons.
The new saffron cultivation method needs more workers and increases the employment rate in the country, which is a necessary and very useful factor.
Also, this new type of cultivation can be done in a small place in vertical shelves, and there is no need to occupy large areas to farm.
The product of ten thousand square meters of the traditional method can be harvested only in a thousand square meter area by the new method.
Estimating costs of traditional saffron cultivation.
price per 10000 meters Total price
Buying plant bulbs and animal manure
This is initial investment and each crop yields up to 7 years
|Annual irrigation and land renting|
Fertilizing and spraying
Spraying and weeding
Hoeing and gardening services before flowering
These prices depend on the land; and low or high flowering does not affect it.
Flower processing and flower drying
This price depends on the amount of flowering and is estimated for 500 kg of flowers
Comparison of traditional and greenhouse saffron planting costs
10 Advantages of growing saffron with greenhouse method
- The ability of adjusting the required light
- The amount of water consumption of spraying machine is controllable and economical
The amount of investment
Cultivation land area
Average saffron production per year (kg)
Annual net income
|Land cultivation|| |
|Hydroponic cultivation|| |
|Aeroponic cultivation|| |
- Humidity is adjustable
- Saffron bulb is safe from rodent pests.
- Spraying operation is much easier than the traditional method.
- Easy harvesting
- Low cost of production
- Increase in the quality and quantity
- Higher quality produced saffron
- Control over the growth of bulbs by adjusting the humidity, temperature and light entering the greenhouse environment
You can produce either Negin saffron or sargol saffron with this method. To discover differences between sargol and negin saffron click on link below
According to studies conducted by experts in the laboratory, the grade of saffron (crocin) grown in the greenhouse is at least 265, where saffron with a production grade of 320 can also be cultivated by this method.
The grade of Saffron is one of the most important factors for buying it.
Climatic conditions for planting saffron
To grow saffron in summer and winter, the weather should be clear with a temperature no more than 35 or 40 degrees Celsius in summer and no less than minus 15 or 20 degrees Celsius in winter.
That’s why you can grow saffron in dry, temperate and continental climates, but not in tropical or polar climates.
Since saffron is a bulb plant and has heat tolerance, it will grow in hot and dry summers without any problems.
When the frost damage threatens your saffron field, it is a wise to move and cover the plants with a mat or woolen cloth to protect them until the cold weather is gone.
Do not forget that in dry spring weather, irrigation is essential. During this time, regular rainfall is beneficial for plant growth because it causes the flowers to have a better function.
Conditions and equipment required for greenhouse saffron cultivation
Closed environment such as basement storeroom
Land to transfer bulbs to the soil after flowering
Wooden plates for placing saffron bulbs
In the saffron planting system in the greenhouse, in June, after the yellowing of the grass, the bulb is separated from the soil and we store it in a well-ventilated and cool environment.
On the first of September, bulbs which are over ten grams are placed in wooden floors, taken to the greenhouse environment, and are kept at a suitable temperature, light and humidity which varies over time.
In October, bulbs begin to germinate.
During this time, many buds grow around the bulbs, which except two or three main buds, all of them should be removed from the bulb.
This will prevent the bulb from losing its ability of flowering.
In late November or early December, bulbs start flowering, and after harvesting the bulb flowers and undergoing disinfection and removal of excess buds, they are returned to the land.
These steps will be repeated in the following year.
By planting saffron in the greenhouse by aeroponic or hydroponic methods, less space can be used to grow more saffron by using the horizontal and vertical space of the greenhouse.
Furthermore it can reduce the amount of needed water.
Depending on the system, nutrients may be given to the plant manually at intervals of day and night, but during the flowering period of saffron, they practically do not need to be fed.
Stages of greenhouse saffron cultivation
Step 1: Preparing high quality and large bulbs
To prepare saffron bulbs, you should start gathering large ones in mid-June, so that it weighs more than 15 grams.
Preparation of weak and small bulbs, greatly reduces the production performance of saffron, so it is recommended not to use bulbs under 15 grams in the greenhouse.
After preparing the bulbs in June, the bulbs should be stored in a completely cool environment away from sunlight until early September.
The moisture should not reach the bulb during this period, and the maximum temperature of the bulb should not exceed 13 degrees Celsius to grow well and prevent them waking up from their summer sleep.
Step 2: preparation of saffron cultivation hall
At this stage, a roofed, hygienic place for growing bulbs should be prepared.
Conditions of a suitable saffron cultivation greenhouse are as follow:
It should be away from environmental pollution.
It should have a window for air conditioning and controlling the temperature and humidity.
To cool the greenhouse, an air conditioner is needed to cool the environment to a temperature of 13 degrees Celsius.
The greenhouse should be equipped with a fan heater to heat the environment during the flower harvesting stage.
After preparing the desired place, shelves (with 4 or 5 floors) with a height of 40 to 50 cm should be constructed.
Beside the shelves, some wooden shelves (100 cm length by 70 cm width) should be provided.
These three shelves can be made of wood as well as metal.
The shelves should be maximum 70 cm wide and the distance between shelves to be used as corridors should be 80 cm.
In a 100 square meter greenhouse saffron with 5-storey shelves, 6 tons of saffron bulbs are needed.
Step 3: transferring saffron bulbs to Greenhouse
Sanitizing the Greenhouse
Before moving the bulbs into the room, it should be sanitized and cleared it from the germs.
Then the bulbs should be separated from each other and cleaned off the soil, excess straw and other stuff.
Sanitizing saffron bulbs
At this stage, a solution of fungicide (carbandazim fungicide two in thousand density) and acaricide (propargetic acaricide one and a half in thousand density) should be prepared in a tank and the bulbs should be soaked in it for a few minutes to let the bulbs become completely sanitized.
Placing bulbs on the shelves
After sanitizing and drying the bulbs in the shade, the bulbs will be placed on the pre-prepared shelves, and the shelves will be moved into the greenhouse.
This stage, which takes place in late September, the humidity will be reached to 80%.
Also, the ambient temperature is reduced below 13 degrees Celsius for 7 days that cause the bulbs to wake up from summer sleep and start growing.
At this stage, the bulbs begin to wake up and the stems grow. weak stems should be prevented from growing and this is done by hand, so it prevents the loss of food energy stored in the bulbs and also causes increasing production efficiency.
Step 4: Transferring saffron bulbs to the ground
After harvesting the flowers, the bulbs should be transferred to the pre-prepared soil as soon as possible, and care should be taken not to damage the bulb leaves during the transferring to the ground and also not to bury them in the soil.
After transferring the bulbs to the soil, the other steps should be continued exactly like the traditional cultivation; and micronutrients and other nutrients needed by the plant should be provided by irrigation.
The required land for each bulb in each plate (1 cm* 1 cm) is 20 square meters.
The soil should be light or a combination of sand and clay so that the bulb can not only obtain the nutrients but also resist specific regional conditions.
The best thing to do before planting, is to take a sample of the soil you want to cultivate your plant in to a saffron laboratory to guide you about the quality of the soil.
Then, it is time to prepare the land.
The soil should be plowed deeply in early July, and at the end of the flowering period (late November), the soil should be fertilized with animal manure, (preferably rotten), approximately (50 tons) and (200 kg) and Phosphate and potash fertilizers manure if it is recommended by the laboratory.
Then, the soil should be plowed 25 to 30 cm deep. (The soil should be completely fine and soft).
If you do not have any experience in agriculture, it is better to get help from farmers or experts to prepare the land (all fertilizer figures are based on hectare of the land).
After preparing the land, it is time to plant bulbs in the ground.
The method of planting bulbs varies depending on different regions.
In rainy areas, bulbs can be grown on sloping lands.
(Areas with moist soil produce very large and good bulbs, but too much moisture and too much rainfall can cause bulbs to become infected with the fungus, so they should be grown on sloping land.
In other parts of our country, bulbs can be grown on flat lands.
To transfer bulbs to the ground, the land must be furrowed.
The grooves will be dug to a depth of 20 to 25 cm at a distance of 10 cm and the bulbs will be planted in a row next to each other at a distance of 5 cm.
Before placing the bulb in the soil, it is better to sprinkle a handful of rotten cow manure in one meter, and a handful of a mixture of potash, phosphorus and nitrogen in the furrow in a length of 80 meters, and then put the bulbs on the soil.
But what is the harm of keeping bulbs in the greenhouse?
Biologically, if bulbs are not planted in the soil, in the absence of their roots they would use their food supply to synthesize the materials needed to make their leaves.
As a result, the longer the planting time takes, the lighter the bulb becomes.
An important point to consider about greenhouse cultivation is the inevitable connection between this method and soil cultivation.
Some people mistakenly think that this method is completely separate from soil cultivation, but in fact, greenhouse cultivation is so dependent on soil cultivation that it can be said that soil cultivation is a prerequisite for starting greenhouse cultivation.
People who want to choose this method should definitely be proficient in fertilizing the land and managing traditional farming in order to be able to grow and prepare bulbs for replanting in each period.
Planting conditions, greenhouse saffron production in the future, and reviewing greenhouse cultivation in Iran:
According to research conducted by (Maggio et al) in 2006, in assessing the adaptability of saffron to hydroponic cultivation, it is possible to harvest more than once in a year and harvest an average of 10 to 12 kg of saffron per hectare.
It seems that soilless cultivation method is not justifiable in terms of saffron production in the greenhouse.
However, according to ISO standards, the production quality of saffron will be higher compared to field cultivation.
It is notable that in soil saffron cultivation and in the new method of planting (rosary beads), bulbs are grown by hand and according to the instructions of the Agriculture Ministry of Iran, the distance between each row should be between 5 to 7 cm and the distance between two rows should be 10 to 15 cm.
In this method, during the years 2013 to 2016, more than 15 kg per hectare of dried saffron was produced, which is approximately 2.5 times that of ideal conditions of greenhouse saffron cultivation method.
Therefore, saffron field cultivation with the new method, in addition to reducing water consumption to one-sixth of conventional and traditional methods, will have at least 50% better conditions in performance compared to greenhouse cultivation.
To discover differences between original and fake saffron click on this link
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