Archive for category Saffron'

Saffron Cultivation in Greece

Crocus sativus L. is a perennial plant that propagates by corms. Today, systematic saffron cultivation in Greece is confined to Kozani county, western Macedonia, and is controlled by the Saffron Growers’ Cooperative. The crop may be kept economically profitable until the seventh year. Sample analysis from many fields, over a number of years, has proved the excellent quality of Greek saffron. The ancient Greek word krokos (saffron) refers, in its broadest sense, to the plant, the flower, the dyeing substance, the aromatic oil and the pharmaceutical herb. Etymologically the word krokos comes from the Greek word kroke, used to designate the yarn woven with a shuttle in the warp of a loom. A famous fresco in the Minoan palace of Knossos, Crete, dated from 1600 BC and known as the “saffron gatherer” depicts a blue monkey picking saffron flowers. Hippocrates (470–377 BC), Aesculapius (525–456 BC), Theophrastus (372–287 BC), Dioscorides (first century AD) and Galen (129–201 AD) quote the word krokos with reference to the pharmaceutical herb. Sophocles (496–406 BC), the classic Greek poet and dramatist, quotes the word krokos “golden dawn krokos” in his drama “Oedipus on Kolonos” to denote the plant. Read more […]

Cultivation of Saffron

Botany Crocus sativus L. is a perennial plant having a depressed globule-shaped underground corm, 3–5 cm in diameter. The leaves are narrow, grass-like, 30–50 cm long. The flowers, one to four per corm, open before leaf emergence, and consist of six violet petals expanding outwards at the top. The pistil is made up of a bulbous ovary from which a slender style arises which is pale yellow and divides into a brilliant orangered, three-lobed stigma, 3–5 cm long. There are three stamens per flower, with twolobed anthers. Climate Saffron begins its growth in autumn, retains its leaves in winter, and enters a dormant state by the end of spring, so as to escape the high summer temperatures. A mild subtropical climate is considered most suitable for saffron cultivation. The regions in which saffron is grown in Greece are characterized by a specific microclimate: annual precipitation exceeding 500 mm, 6–7°C average minimum temperature and 13.5–19°C average maximum temperature during October and November. The crop endures drought, but at certain stages of its growth water is indispensable. These critical times, when rain or irrigation is necessary, include March and April, when the corms grow, and September, Read more […]

Saffron (Crocus Sativus L.) in Italy

In Piano di Navelli (L’Aquila region, Central Italy), saffron is cultivated in annual cycles. There has been a great decrease in saffron production in this region over the past few years. Nevertheless, it represents a remarkable income for some farmers in this mountainous area with a poor economy. This arid area is atypical for saffron cultivation, but the unique annual cultivation results in the recognized superior quality of its saffron in the marketplace. This chapter describes the major aspects of saffron production in this region. Cultivation: Cycle and Area According to tradition, a certain monk from Navelli (L’Aquila, Central Italy), on his return from Spain some time during the 15th century, adapted Spanish cultivation practices to the climate and soil of his village, in particular the development of cultivation in annual cycles. It is this practice, particular to Navelli and the Aquila area, that differs from those used in other countries (Spain, Greece, India, Sardinia, etc.) where the saffron plants are left in the soil from three to eight years (pluriannual cultivation) (). In this way, saffron cultivation which was well known among the ancient Roman people, but forgotten during the medieval age, was Read more […]

Saffron: Principal Agricultural Practices

Soil Preparation Preceding the planting of corms, the soil is ploughed to a depth of about 30 cm and left to rest for a period from a few weeks to the whole winter. The cultivated area is divided up into plots of about 1000 square metres (20×40–50 m). A ridging hoe is used to prepare the bed; four parallel furrows, 2 by 2, are cut to a depth of about 10 cm for a length of 10–15 cm. The corms are placed or lightly driven into place with the apex uppermost, generally in contact with one another (for more details see the section Planting out, below). They are then covered with the soil from the next furrow in line, to form a mound of about 10 cm in height. Four furrows make up a bed, locally called a patch. Each patch is about 80 cm wide, slightly raised to a height of 10– 15 cm and about 50 cm long. The patches are separated from each other by a furrow, about 30 cm wide, which serves to give access for cultivation and above all acts as a drainage ditch. Fertilizing The soil in Navelli is fertilized with mature horse or cow manure (about 30 tons/ha). Contrary to cultivation practices in Spain and Greece, no mineral fertilizers whatsoever are used in Navelli. In Borgo Val di Taro (Parma), small saffron plantations Read more […]