Saffron Cultivation


Saffron is produced from the dried red stigmas of Crocus Sativus Linnaeus, a small perennial plant of about 20 cm. member of the large family Iridaceae which in Italy flowers in autumn. In Europe, apart from Italy, it is mainly cultivated in Spain, Greece and France. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. The main reason for its great cost is that saffron is still cultivated and harvested as it has been for millennia by hand. In a year, each saffron plant can produce three or four flowers of a beautiful lilac color. Every flower has three female parts (stigmas) and two male parts (stamen) that are half the size of the stigmas. Each stigma is threadlike in appearance and is red or dark red in color. The flavor, aroma and coloring capability come from the red stigmas which we hand-pick and carefully dry to prolong the shelf life and quality of our saffron. More than 170,000 flowers are needed to make just one kilogram. In one gram of saffron there are about 500 threads or stigmas. Since three threads represent one flower, it takes about 165 flowers to produce one gram.

We plant the Crocus bulbs (corms) in rows, 20-30 cm apart and 2-3 cm from corm to corm, in the well-pulverized and sandy soil of San Felice Circeo, Italy. Corms multiply from one year to the next, from one corm one can get 5 corms after 3 years. The flowers of Crocus Sativus L. are collected manually in November and the red stigmas are picked out and dried according to traditional methods. After the second crop the corms are taken up, divided and transplanted again in a new site. In the cultivation process we use no fertilizers or pesticides.

 cormi small