1. Agripedia

Saffron: Uses, Land Preparation, Cultivation, Irrigation, Harvesting and Drying

KJ Staff
KJ Staff


Saffron is the most expensive plant found in the world. Being so expensive, it is also called red gold. Cultivation of saffron is very easy and simple. Saffron crop does not require much hard work. Also, its harvest period is also 3 - 4 months and it can grow upto 15-20 cm in height. Its prices are also increasing day by day, through which farmers can earn good profit.

Wild saffron is botanically known as Crocus cartwrightianus. The commercially cultivated saffron is botanically called Crocus sativus.

Uses of Saffron

  • Saffron is used as a flavoring and coloring agent in milk and milk sweets.

  • It is used as a seasoning agent in cheese, mayonnaise, meat, etc.

  • They are used as a flavoring and seasoning agent in the Mughlai cuisine.

  • In Ayurveda, it is used for healing arthritis, infertility, liver enlargement and fever.

  • It is commercially used in perfumes and cosmetics.

Major Saffron Production states in India

Major production states are Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. It is locally known as Kesar in Hindi, Kong in Kashmiri, Jafran in Bengali, Zafran in Punjabi, Keshar in Gujarati, Zafran in Urdu, Asra, Aruna, Asrika, Kunkuma in Sanskrit.

Ideal Conditions for Saffron Cultivation

For commercial saffron production the basic requirement is fertile soil. Climate is the second big factor. It demands a good photoperiod and a dry soil with light moisture.

Climate for Saffron Cultivation

The cultivation of saffron is mainly found in both sunken and dry areas with an elevation of 1500 to 2500 meters above sea level. It needs Photoperiod of 12 hours, which gives a lot of benefits, and also makes the flowering process sluggish.


Season for Saffron Farming

  • In India, saffron Corms are cultivated during the months of June and July and at some places in August and September.

  • It starts flowering in October.

  • It needs extreme heat and dryness in summer and extreme cold during winter.

  • Maximum growth takes place during winters, Such weather is common in parts of Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Soil for Saffron Farming

Soil is one of the basic requirements in saffron cultivation. It can be grown in loamy, sandy or calcareous soil. Gravelly soil is also friendly for saffron farming, but a heavy, clayey soil is not suitable for farming.

Saffron prefers acidic soil. It grows well when pH of soil is around 5.5 to 8.5.

Water Requirement

Saffron requires less water. The soil must not be completely dry but just a little moist. 283 meter cubic per acre of water must be distributed throughout the period of cultivation and Irrigation is done on weekly basis.

Planting Material for Saffron Farming

Saffron cultivation is done through corms that are underground compressed stems. There are three varieties of saffron cultivated in India, especially in Kashmir and they are:-

  • Aquilla Saffron

  • Creme Saffron

  • Lacha Saffron

Land Preparation for Saffron Cultivation in India

Before plowing or planting saffron seeds, make the soil brittle by plowing the field thoroughly. Before the final plowing, put 20 tonnes of cow dung and 90 kg of nitrogen along with 60 kg of phosphorus and potas per hectare in your field and plow it well. With this, your land will remain fertile and rough and the saffron crop will be good to a great extent.

Planting of Saffron Plant

  • Pits are dug that are 12-15 cm deep with an inter-plant distance of around 10 cm.

  • The corms for saffron cultivation are planted directly into the dug pits.

  • The surface is then covered loosely with soil.

  • Compact packing is not done it may restrict air circulation.

  • Irrigation is not required after sowing the corms, but if there has been a long dry spell or prolonged drought with hot season then irrigation maybe needed.

saffron plant

Time of planting of saffron crop

There is a fixed or fixed time to plant any crop. By not planting seeds at the right time, we do not get the required yield of expectation. Therefore, always plant the seeds on the fields at the scheduled time.

  • The best time to harvest saffron is from July to August but mid-July is the best time.

  • While applying the croms of saffron, take care to make a pit of 6 - 7 cm for applying the croms, and keep about 10 cm between the two corms. This will cause the croms to flourish and pollen will also be produced in good quantity.

Irrigation for saffron crop

If there is light rain a few days after planting the crop, there is no need to irrigate the field. But if there is no rain then we have to irrigate 2 to 3 times in a span of 15 days. During irrigation, it should be kept in mind that there should be no water deposits in the field and if water deposits occur, drainage should be arranged soon. If not arranged, crop will be affected.

Saffron harvesting and drying

  • It is the harvest process that makes saffron a costly spice.

  • It starts flowering within three to four months of planting.

  • If planted in June, ideally they would start flowering by October.

  • Harvesting of flowers must be done at the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise, It is said that the flowers must be plucked between sunrise and 10 AM.

  • The stigma strands are dried under the sun for five to six days and then it is packed in air-tight containers.

  • In case of solar driers, it needs 7-8 hours of drying.

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