On the eve of Halloween, Emma prepared pumpkin tarts for dinner. While mixing up all the ingredients for the filling, she took out some beautiful orange strands of a spice. As soon as she dissolved the strands in water and added them to her recipe, it imparted a rich golden-hue to the mixture, and a sweet and musky fragrance sprang across the whole kitchen.
The secret spice that Emma added to her dish to make it fragrant, aromatic, and rich was none other than the saffron threads. She not only uses these saffron strands in tarts but also in several recipes to enhance the color and taste. Like Emma, millions of homes in the USA use this unique saffron spice in their kitchen.
Saffron, also called Saffran, is not only used in cooking but also to make medicines. It has impressive health benefits, which exponentially raises its trade in the USA and all over the world.
The Demand For Saffron
Saffron is one of the most prized spices in the world.
It is widely used in but not limited to food, beverages, medications, perfumes, and textile dyeing. Because of its medicinal properties, it has an enormous market, and its demand as an antioxidant and antidepressant further increases its sales. Whooping cough, asthma, and skin problems are other diseases that use preparations from saffron as medicines.
The markets and trade of saffron in the United States of America has grown in the past decade. According to The Counter, the USA is one of the significant buyers of saffron in the world. Its demand keeps on increasing every year. In 2018, the USA alone imported this golden spice worth $16 million, according to data from the Census.
Developments in the healthcare field are fueling the market growth of saffron in the country. Moreover, saffron's natural color and flavor remain in demand as people nowadays tend to choose organic substances over artificial ones. If we talk about the coming years, advancements in the beauty and cosmetics industry and improved standards of living will only contribute to the growth in trade for saffron.
The USA has tremendous demands for saffron every year, which the saffron suppliers fulfill by importing it from other countries. Apart from this, the price of real saffron could be up to $10000. All this makes saffron one of the most expensive, promising, and profitable crops that could bring in high revenues if grown in the soil of the USA.
The Cultivation of Saffron
At saffron farming, the saffron cultivation happens from
the flowers of the saffron crocus. It is a flowering plant that propagates and multiplies through its bulb, called corms. The saffron flowers bloom in the autumn season, and they are harvested for their stigmas that are the saffron threads.
Since each flower only produces three stigmas, therefore the blossoms are carefully picked by hand. The whole process of harvesting is tedious and labor-intensive, which makes saffron so expensive. No wonder why this spice is called the red gold!
As per Sativus, the saffron crocus grows best in the soil, which is rich in humus, well-drained, calcareous, and has a pH ranging from 6-8. It is essential to irrigate the land properly while planting saffron in the semi-dry soil. Similarly, when the saffron corms are grown in wet soil, it is necessary to make sure that the land is well-drained. Otherwise, the corms may get infected or may rot, putting everything in vain.
The saffron crocus is a heat-tolerant plant that may not get affected in dry summers. However, during extreme winters, the low temperature may dry-freeze the plants. As a result, the plants will bear fewer blossoms, and therefore, there would be less saffron.
The ideal temperature for the cultivation of saffron should not be less than -20 degrees Celsius in winters and no more than 40 degrees Celsius in the summer season. Hence, saffron can be produced in dry and moderate types of climate but not in the polar and tropical regions.
The Major Producers of Saffron
If we consider the production of saffron, Iran is the biggest saffron producer, having a share of 90% of the saffron farming in the world. The other leaders in saffron production are Italy, Spain, India, and Morocco. However, the ratio of exports to that of production is very less in Iran. Hence USA Saffron suppliers import saffron mainly from France, Italy, and Spain.
As per Grand View Research, the Asia-Pacific region has the largest market share and the value is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9% in the coming decade. India is one of the largest saffron producers because of the availability of favorable climate, suitable land, and raw supplies for the cultivation of saffron kesar.
The increasing demand for natural and organic substances and advancements in healthcare will contribute to the growing market for saffron in developing countries like India.
Talking about the USA saffron importers, the majority of imports are from Spain. Spain is not only an exporter of saffron but a major importer as well. Though the demand in the USA is accomplished through importing, it would be fascinating if the USA saffron manufacturers could produce saffron locally to fulfill the increasing need in the country. Is it possible?
Cultivating Saffron in America
The USA is the largest consumer of saffron in the world, but it is quite surprising that there are only a few producers of saffron in the states of Vermont, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Apart from these regions, the production of saffron is unheard of.
It is not impossible to grow saffron, but it is essential to make sure of certain things to cultivate saffron crocus successfully. The saffron bulbs can be planted in several types of
soil, but well-drained soil having high humus suits best for the cultivation of saffron. It is equally essential to take care of the crops according to whether. The plants should be provided proper irrigation especially during falls when the soil gets dry, before and during the period of flowering, and in the spring season. To protect the bulbs from pests and diseases, one should plant them in fresh soil that is the soil in which never any bulbous plants have been grown. Most importantly, crops need protection from mice and rabbits. Otherwise, it can result in great damage.
To understand the possibilities of growing saffron locally in the USA, the researchers at the University of Vermont are cultivating saffron bulbs. This study will open doors to not only utilize the crop to generate revenue for local farmers but also growing saffron in home gardens.
According to the study published by American Meadows, who also donated saffron bulbs for the research in Vermont, nearly 3500 saffron bulbs were planted in a hoop house. The research tells us effective tips on how to grow saffron crocus at home. It shows that even though many people plant saffron bulbs in the ground, they are more likely to propagate and bloom successfully when planted in milk crates. The most important benefit of planting the bulbs in milk crates is the protection from rabbits, mice, and moles. The whole setting is also equipped with weed cloth, which not only guards the saffron crocus against weeds but also rodents.
To cultivate saffron in the American soil, it is extremely important to water the crop properly. Watering initially helps stimulate corms. After the initial watering, it requires irrigation only after every 15 days. As saffron originates from dry areas, moisture is not good for the crop. Therefore, a lot of watering will damage the crop with fungus.
The researcher at the University of Vermont, Arash Ghalehgolabbehbahani also says that saffron thrives best in sandy and loamy soil, and won't grow in clay soil. He also emphasizes that the size of corms is equally important. Bigger corms result in a better saffron harvest. According to research, each corm should weigh more than 5 grams.
This method of plantation can be utilized for growing saffron crops at home, as well as scaling the production at a large level. Planting the bulbs in milk crates or separate containers is likely to provide better protection from pests and hence result in more harvest.
An important tip for the farmers living in cold regions like Vermont to cultivate saffron is to grow it after harvesting the conventional crop for the season. Once planted, the saffron crop doesn't need much attention as it is tough. It only requires proper conditions for growth
The Future of Saffron Production In the USA
Considering the increasing demand for saffron, the interest in the production of saffron is growing in the United States. Saffron growing workshops for farmers to enhance the cultivation and seminars on techniques for growing saffron bulbs are conducted year after year. A community of farmers grows saffron and sends their samples to the University of Vermont. All of this, to determine the best practices of growing high-quality saffron
Because saffron is an expensive crop and has a high resale value, it could be a golden opportunity for local farmers to generate more revenue. According to Civil Eats, it will require the establishment of a market for locally grown saffron in the United States. Though Iran is the biggest producer of Saffron and Spain is its biggest importer to the USA, it doesn't mean that there isn't an opportunity for the local farmers to produce saffron locally and sell across the country.
Due to the extensive use of saffron in food products, medicines, cosmetics, etc. the demand for this sweet-smelling spice is likely to increase more and more in the coming years. Hence to discover practices for quality production of saffron for the USA Saffron B2B Marketplace could be worth all the efforts and time, as the red gold could be a key to meet local demands and generate revenues. Moreover, USA Saffron Suppliers and the producers have an opportunity to offer a genuine and locally cultivated saffron while assuring the quality of their product.
Irrespective of where it is produced, saffron remains one of the most demanded and expensive spices in the world. Current research, seminars, and workshops for farmers are a great step towards encouraging local production of saffron in the USA. Further experiments and positive results may one day lead to using locally produced saffron in the kitchens of the USA. Meanwhile, we all enjoy the delicacies prepared with the golden strands of this