Saffron harvest 2017

I’ve looked forward to my saffron every October since I brought my six gift corms back from our visit to the Limousin in 2008.  I planted them as an experiment, as I had never seen saffron flowering before, and I was doubtful that I would succeed.

If any one has a similar climate to here, and a fancy to try growing saffron then I can attest to the pleasure of harvesting the short lived crop.  There is no need to start with so few bulbs as I did because the bulbs are not expensive.  Just make sure you are getting Crocus sativus and not the autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) which is toxic.

The one constraint is that you must be at home at the beginning of October when they first push through the ground and start flowering.  This year I gathered 78 flowers on the 5 October then 96 the next day, after that the numbers dropped  to the twenties and have just petered out to single flowers in the last few days.

Each day I pick out the three red pistils and put them on a plate to air dry.  I am pleased with my saffron harvest this year.  I cannot weigh it as I do not have a scale that is accurate enough for such a light weight but you can get an idea of how much I gathered from the picture of it on the dinner plate.

On the 15 October I was busy and it was 8 o’clock in the evening before I had time to gather the flowers.

I had just time to stop myself squashing a bumble bee on the first flower that I reached for. The bee did not budge and I carefully picked up all the flowers from the plants around it and I did not disturb it at all.  It remained fast asleep!  It is nice to see that it is not just me that appreciates the saffron flowers.

30 thoughts on “Saffron harvest 2017

  1. It’s interesting that your Saffron crocus started a lot earlier than mine, Amelia. It is only this week that I have noticed the first flowers. Maybe it is due to the very hot dry year. Mine are now a bit hidden under the mutabilis roses, every year I say I will move them and don’t manage to do it – hopefully this year as it would be nice to see them. I don’t usually harvest mine as I still have sufficient from when my husband visited Iran and he bought me back too much! But in future it will be lovely to have enough to use during the year.

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    1. What a good husband to bring back too much saffron. I hope he did not forget the lemon coated pistachios and dried white mulberries 🙂 I agree the hot dry summer has delayed your saffron this year. You made me think that because they are such lovely flowers a few patches here and there would look good at this time of year. Amelia

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  2. It doesn’t look like my saffron is going to flower this year — too dry. The visit by the local heritage society to a grower was cancelled this year as it was scheduled for early November (normal flowering time here) and the bulbs flowered a month early. Our village has a saffron fair every year which is well attended, and saffron has been grown and sold here since medieval times.

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    1. I do understand why it must be a difficult commercial crop. You have to hand pick them as more flowers will be produced by the same corms, so that is a lot of bending. Then the stigmas must be recovered by hand which is time consuming. At least the stigmas dry easily. Amelia

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  3. Wow! I have never read about anyone actually harvesting it. Although I really like the ornamental autumn crocus, it does not naturalize like is is purported to do. The saffron crocus did happen to naturalize in my garden. Mine has much more foliage than yours does. You know, they are actually more compatible with the forest landscape than the other crocus are.

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    1. I had always thought that the Saffron crocus liked the sunshine although they have been grown in the U.K. giving rise to place names like Saffron Waldon. Sunny days always bring out a flush of the flowers. The foliage thickens out after the flowers have passed and once it dies back I will break up and move some of the larger groups. Amelia

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  4. Christopher Richmond

    Looks like you had a great harvest, I’ve got a couple of hundred on my allotment and around 1000 in a flower bed at home. Unfortunately I didn’t get a single flower this year haven’t got a clue why, hopefully next year will be better.

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    1. You did not say what country you are in. My saffron have flowered annually. I think they like plenty of sun after they flower so that they can store plenty of food in their bulbs. The greens of my saffron are still doing well so perhaps they do well with a mild post flowering season. Amelia

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      1. Christopher Richmond

        I’m in north west England, I think it’s because we had such a poor summer.
        Mine have nice healthy green leaves I just didn’t get any flowers, hopefully I’ll get a bumper crop this year.

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  5. marilyn

    someone has suggested Epsom Salt on the leaves in March before they die back if you didn’t get any flowers (I didn’t this year). Is this true?

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    1. Epsom salts are basically magnesium sulphate and could be hoped to be absorbed by the leaves. I have no information to suggest that the leaves would absorb the magnesium, and then the plants would have to be suffering from a deficiency in magnesium before it would be helpful. I would rather think that the corms were perhaps not mature enough and did not benefit from enough sun and rain to allow them to flower. Better luck next year? Amelia

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        1. Mine produce lots of little corms and so I have to divide them every year. I am doing this now as the leaves are dying away. I dig up the larger clumps and split them into individual corms and plant them in their own space. Perhaps yours have got too crushed together or the summer was not warm and sunny enough for them ? Amelia

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  6. Pingback: The Compulsive Gardener | Saffron Crocus — Exquisite In Every Way

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