There are many different types of spices. They are all relatively expensive. But the spice of saffron is incomparably more expensive than most of these.
A kilogram of high-quality saffron costs $ 10,000. That is above Rs 7 lakh. Saffron has been a popular spice for thousands of years and has been used as a spice, medicine and for color. One saffron bulb produces a single flower, which in turn yields just three spindly stigmas – the female part of the flower that makes up the spice. Each stigma has to be delicately plucked from the flower, requiring time and effort.
At least 150 flowers are required to make one gram of saffron. One kilogram requires at least 150,000 flowers. But there are no special machines available for collecting these. Saffron blooms only for one week in a year. When other spices yield hundreds of quintals per acre, the saffron yields only about two kilograms.
The Cultivation & Harvest of Saffron
Saffronis collected from the blossoms of Crocus sativus commonly known as saffron bulbs. It is propagated by bulbs called corms. Each corm forms new bulbsfefe, and this is how the plant multiplies. Saffron flowers are harvested for the red stigmas popularly known as saffron threads, from which the spice is derived. The Crocus sativus grows in many different soil types but thrives best in calcareous, humus-rich and well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 8.
The fall-blooming, purple-flowered saffron crocus grows from a bulb-like structure called a corm. When planting saffron corms for the first time, choose a fresh land, that is, no other tubers or saffron corms have ever been planted there before. Before planting, make it sure to till the soil 20 to 50 cms deep to keep the sold loose and well-aired, incorporating organic fertilizer during the process. Watering the plants should be minimal once the corms started growing leaves. Planting is done in July, August and September either by hand or by machine, and harvesting comes at the end of October to mid-November, approximately eight weeks after planting.
Required precautions have to be taken against birds, rabbits, etc. Corm rot, leaf rusts, nematodes, and other pathogens must also be prevented from affecting the saffron crocus plants.
Generally, in the middle of October,saffron flowers begin to blossom, and the blooming lasts for about three weeks. An intensified blossoming takes place which last from two to six days. Blooms that appear during the night must be harvested at dawn the very next day. It is best to harvest blooms that are closed to ensure high-quality saffron threads.
The quality of saffron varies depending on its maintenance, weather, and rainfall availability. If the crop gets good rainfall, when the harvest season approaches, large flowers appear. But if the weather is dry at this time, the size of the flowers will be smaller.
The highest quality saffron in the world is cultivated in Kashmir. Due to climate change, the production of saffron in Kashmir has declined significantly. However, the demand for saffron is increasing every year.