What it takes to start a saffron cultivation
Having knowledge of agriculture is a fundamental requirement for starting a cultivation of saffron (minimum distance between plants, irrigation, sowing and harvesting, etc.), as well as knowing the extraction and drying techniques of the delicate pistil. It also serves a very draining plot of land, because the saffron bulb rots with some ease in the presence of excessive water. In reality saffron does not need excessive irrigation: some claim that only rainwater is sufficient to keep the plantation healthy. It should be added that the best yield is on hilly and slightly stony soils.
How much does it cost to grow saffron?
A saffron bulb , also called cormo or crochi (in the plural), costs about 45 euro cents including VAT. A modest expense and we are talking about organic bulbs. You can spend even less (on the market there are also bulbs at 30 cents each, including VAT), but to the detriment of the yield and the final quality of the spice.
A corm from organic farming can produce 3 to 5 flowers. It takes about 100 large flowers (or 200 small ones) to get 1 gram of finished product . One gram of this spice costs on average 20 euros (less if you only sell pistils, valued around 10-12 euros per gram).
Having 1,000 square meters of land it is possible, following the indications of the major producers, to plant around 10,000 crocuses that can yield up to 220 grams of spice, or 4,400 euros . An interesting gain that, however, is achieved with patience, because picking the flower, extracting the pistil, drying it and turning it into dust is a truly painstaking activity. So a certain amount of labor must be put in the budget, at least in the case of a large plot of land.
The saffron market
It is a very popular spice on the domestic and foreign market . In Italy the annual production is strictly connected to the climatic trend: the production range varies annually between 450 and 600 kg. Very little considering that there are about 320 farms that grow saffron. In general, the surfaces used for crocus cultivation are very small (from 200 square meters to 5,000 square meters).
These data are provided directly by the Italian Saffron Observatory , which reminds us, however, that for this spice the market is constantly expanding. The recent conflicts in the Middle East have opened up new scenarios in the saffron market. As the connections with Iran became more complicated, where 90% of this spice is produced, demand for saffron from Spain, Greece and even Italy has increased. Currently Italy exports saffron to the world for over 550,000 euros and this figure, according to analysts, could double within a few years, weather conditions permitting.
Not least it is important to know that the success of saffron is represented by the fact of being considered one of the most powerful and effective aphrodisiac foods.
Growing saffron: rules and bureaucracy
To grow saffron it is necessary to open a farm and register with the local Chamber of Commerce . The legislation relating to marketing is more complex and articulated, even if by consortia with other existing realities it will be easier to have outlets on the market, reducing to a minimum the paperwork for sales.
Saffron cultivation is not a fad , but a real productive activity that can yield interesting profits. This is why associations and consortia have been set up to promote the spread of saffron plantations in Italy. Associations that can not only teach you the basics to cultivate this plant (and eventually produce the relative spice), but also provide you with the crocuses and help you to market both the pistils and the finished product.
Among the most active are Zafferano Italiano and Zafferano di Montefeltro, two companies that follow the new saffron grower in every aspect, from the choice of the soil at the time of sowing, from the harvest to the sale.