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Beginners Guide to Saffron Cultivation - Step by Step Process Explained

Saffron is a spice that has been known to making since the Bronze Age and is now grown in various parts of the world. India's production is quite low due to which we are heavily dependant on imports but that can be changed if there is an effort from all the stakeholders.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi

Saffron is a spice that is extracted from the flower of Crocus Sativus which is grown in various areas around the world. The spice was first reported to be grown around Greece and it is believed that it was propagated from Crocus cartwrightianus which is a source of Wild Saffron. 

Important points for Saffron farming

Soil & Climate 

The plant Crocus Sativus thrives in the soil which is calcareous(rich in sodium carbohydrate) and is well-drained and rich in humus. It can also grow in dry or semi-dry soil provided it is well-drained. The ph of the soil should be between 6 and 8. It can be grown in areas with 35-40 degrees celsius in summer to -15m to - 20-degree celsius in the winter. It requires dry temperature for maximum yield.   

Land Preparation 

It is advised to plough the land twice to bring it to a fine tilth. The beds should be loose and airy for the plants to be planted firmly. The best time for plantation is considered between July to August. The flower starts to appear in October while the flower fully blossoms in the winter seasons. 


The soil should be dug and a pit should be made of depth 15 cm, the distance between the pits should be between 10-12 cm. The plants are planted into the pits and then are covered with soil. Irrigation should only be provided during an extended spell of a dry period and should be avoided otherwise. 


It refers to the process in which saffron plants are completely detached from the mother corns and are stored for the next season. Saffron corn is generally fit for growing saffron for 4-5 years and therefore grubbing should be done accordingly. 



Weeding is a serious problem as unlike most crops machine weeding is avoided due to the possibility of the beds being damaged. Manual weeding is a tedious process and the weeding should be done on the first sign as later the weeds might delve deeper into the crops thus making it difficult to remove it. 

Harvesting Saffron

The saffron bloom occurs during October-November and the flowers should be plucked before the wilting of the petals. The plucking should always be done at dawn to extract the highest quality of saffron. 

Drying Saffron

A very important process as the leaves are dried and the saffron is extracted. The process is delicate as the temperature should be between 55-60 degrees Celcius/the process aims to dry the threads but not to over-dry it. After the process, they change into dark orange colour and are stored in jars for over 25 days after which they are deemed fit to use. 

Marketing of Saffron

The marketing for saffron is easy as compared to other spices due to its various uses. It can be used in various industries like medicine, alcohol, dairy and tobacco. We have to keep in mind that long unbroken thread fetch more money and the final revenue generated also depends on the drying process.

The main motivation for the farmers to grow saffron lies in the statistics released by the government. According to the statistics by CSIR- Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, the annual demand for Saffron in India is 100 tonnes but the annual production is only 7 tonnes which leads to huge import.

This proves that any farmer growing saffron will not have a problem in selling his produce and in the age of technology, one can use social media and industry connections to sell his produce. Especially after the GI tag was awarded to Kashmiri saffron it is a boon for farmers in the union territory. There are some organisation in Kashmir such as Field Fresh Saffron Corporation, Kashmir Kesar Leader and Organic Valley Saffron Farms.


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