Greenhouse saffron cultivation is one of the profitable methods of growing this plant. Despite its significant differences with traditional soil cultivation, it also shares several fundamental similarities with it. Depending on the regional conditions, individuals can cultivate saffron in soil or a greenhouse.
In this article, we intend to examine greenhouse saffron cultivation and explore its various aspects. So, if you have decided to engage in greenhouse cultivation or gather information about it, stay with us until the end of this article.
One of the most important topics we need to address regarding greenhouse saffron cultivation is that contrary to common beliefs, greenhouse cultivation does not necessarily result in a significantly higher yield or superior quality compared to soil cultivation. Perhaps the yield and quality of saffron in greenhouse cultivation are slightly higher than in soil cultivation. Still, this difference in yield is negligible compared to the initial expenses of setting up a saffron greenhouse.
Greenhouse saffron cultivation can be implemented through two methods: aeroponics and hydroponics. In hydroponic cultivation, cocopeat and perlite are used as growing media, and the plant obtains its nutrients through the roots from this medium.
Aeroponic cultivation, also known as air cultivation, is more common and popular than hydroponics. In the following, we will delve into the details of greenhouse saffron cultivation using the aeroponic method.
Equipment required for greenhouse saffron cultivation:
We all know greenhouse cultivation requires more tools and equipment than soil cultivation. For soil cultivation, only suitable land and water are needed, but for greenhouse cultivation, in addition to land and water, the following equipment is required:
Enclosed and sealed environment: The designated greenhouse should have a covered and sealed environment. It is important to note that conventional greenhouses, such as those used for growing vegetables or ornamental plants with plastic coverings, are unsuitable for saffron cultivation.
Shelving: The greenhouse should be shelved with 4 to 5 tiers for placing the saffron bulbs. The shelves can be made of wood or metal. The distance between each tier and the one above should be 40 to 45 centimeters. The width of the aisles can be considered as 100 centimeters.
The flooring of the shelves can be made of plastic, metal, or wood. The important thing is that these floors have grooves or holes for air circulation.
Misting device or humidifier: It is necessary to provide the required water for the plant.
Heating and cooling equipment: Coolers and heaters are used to regulate the temperature required for the bulbs.
Lamps: Plants have different light requirements for growth. For saffron cultivation, it is necessary to use suitable lamps to provide the required light.
Humidity and temperature sensors: These tools are necessary for controlling the temperature and humidity in the greenhouse.
Stages of greenhouse saffron cultivation (aeroponics):
Greenhouse saffron cultivation involves multiple stages, each with its importance. These stages include:
Education and learning:
Greenhouse saffron cultivation requires precise training and acquiring sufficient knowledge. This method has more stages and sensitivity than soil cultivation, which must be executed accurately and completely. Negligence in the maintenance and cultivation of greenhouse saffron due to carelessness or lack of knowledge can jeopardize your investment and even lead to its failure.
Procuring saffron bulbs for greenhouse saffron cultivation:
One of the most important stages of saffron cultivation, whether in soil or greenhouse, is acquiring high-quality saffron bulbs. The quality and health of the bulbs determine the success of your field or greenhouse.
For greenhouse cultivation, large bulbs weighing over 15 grams must be used. Remember that the bulbs should be obtained and transferred to storage between May/June and mid-July when they are dormant.
Ensure the complete health of the saffron bulbs when purchasing them. The bulbs should be free from any contamination and fungal diseases.
The bulb sheaths prevent severe stress on the bulbs during their removal from the soil and the transfer process. Therefore, it is better to peel the bulbs at the destination and refrain from buying pre-peeled bulbs.
Strongly avoid purchasing stored saffron bulbs under any circumstances. Bulbs kept outside the soil for a long time and stored in warehouses have weakened vitality and roots, with a high probability of contamination.
Transferring the bulbs to the greenhouse:
From mid-August to early September, the bulbs should be transferred to the greenhouse and arranged closely and systematically on the shelves. The positioning of the bulbs in the greenhouse is important, and, unlike soil cultivation, the sprouts of the bulbs should be facing upwards.
see also How To Grow Saffron Bulbs
The bulbs should be kept in a completely dark environment during dormancy. Starting from late September, the bulbs gradually awaken from dormancy and begin their activity and growth. Once the bulbs grow and their sprouts become visible, it is necessary to increase the ambient light gradually.
Blossoming and saffron harvesting:
The process and timing of saffron flowering in greenhouse and soil cultivation are similar and do not differ significantly. The bulbs start to bloom in Aban (October/November), and the flowers should be picked, and saffron should be harvested daily.
Transferring saffron bulbs to the soil:
Many people interested in greenhouse saffron cultivation are unaware of an important point: the need for land to transfer the bulbs to the soil. Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 square meters of land is required for every 100 square meters of equipped greenhouse.
After saffron harvesting, it is time to transfer the bulbs to the soil. This stage is essential for root establishment, irrigation, and bulb strengthening and must be carried out.
From the stage of transferring the bulbs to the soil until before their subsequent transfer to storage and the greenhouse, the work process, including irrigation and fertilization, is identical to soil cultivation.
As evident, greenhouse saffron cultivation is more difficult and labor-intensive. In this type of cultivation, all the mentioned stages need to be repeated every year, and this repetitive cycle is costly, labor-intensive, and time-consuming. For these reasons, we recommend to all enthusiasts who have the potential for soil cultivation of saffron in their region and have no limitations from this perspective to cultivate saffron in soil.