Cultivation of red gold (Saffron) in Pakistan

Hafiz Kashif Ali, Shahla Rashid, Erum Rashid

(University College of Agriculture University of Sargodha, Sargodha)

The stigma of Crocus sativus is called as saffron. Saffron is an expensive spice than gold and it is locally called as kesar or zafran. Saffron cultivation is very simple and accessible to anyone, it is a money maker plant, and people should have to grow it. Saffron is considered a sterile mutant plant, typically saffron is propagated through corm, and this is small bulb like structure that developed underground. Saffron corms are available at seeds shops. Buy the mature and healthy saffron corms. Prepare the land with deep ploughing and add some compost or manure, in case of nitrogenous fertilizer, it is better to spread on the surface after planting. Corms are planted in June to mid-September either directly into the field, in pots or in window boxes. Put the corms into the ground at a 10-15cm depth leaving a 10cm gap between them. They will grow in arid or semi-arid regions (Chakwal, Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Kashmir etc.). They grow well in calcareous soil, which is neutral clay with pH 6-8. They also grow well in silty and sandy soils enriched with organic matter. Saffron plants need well-drained soil and full sun light. It required temperature not more than 35-40C in summer and -15C in winter. Watering is not necessary, in case of severe drought in September watering them once usually be enough. Corms multiply from 1 year to the next, from 1corm one can get 5corms after 3years. Flowers mature 3-4 months after planting the corms. Flowers are picked by hand and separate the stigmas and dried them. Saffron keeps its taste for 2years. About 150 flowers are needed to make 1g of dried saffron. It is used in pharmaceutical companies i.e. antispasmodic in asthma; to treat anemia, cardiovascular diseases, obstetrical problems, delayed menses, reduce blood pressure and mood swings in pregnancy, various used in herbal medicines, used in cosmetics. It is store house of Cu, Mg, Mn, Fe, Zn and K. Since you cannot grow gold, saffron might be the next best thing.

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