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Why Saffron in the Karoo

Saffron Corms

First leaves breaking through

Eric Brown, owner of KAROOFRESH is one of  South Africa's pioneering  saffron producers, and when he talks about the new crop, big plans emerge that he is already busy with.

He unequivocally believes that  Saffron (Crocus sativus) can provide a solution for many Karoo farmers in need. - "If good quality saffron is produced, it offers excellent possibilities as a high-value crop."


Saffron (Crocus sativus) is an exceptionally hardy plant which make the Karoo, with its scarcity of water, icy winters, and dry, warm summers, favourable for growing conditions for this plant.
Long cold winters with short daylight time is ideal for growing saffron. The plant literally thinks it is growing but due to the low temperatures it grows minimally which allows it to survive in relatively short daylight hours.
Experiments have shown that the Saffron plant can survive severe temperatures of up to -18°C, so the fact that the Karoo is a winter rainfall area with average minimum winter temperatures of -7 °C in this area according to the Richardson Scale, provides favourable growing conditions which is well within its bounds.
Not only is it tolerant of minus degrees but it is also extremely heat-tolerant and can survive the average maximum summer temperatures of 36 °C.
As Saffron corms can be grown in dry or semi-dry soil types it also makes it well suited for this region with its average annual rainfall between only 200 – 350mm. Hence it allows to produce profitable vegetation from seemingly unprofitable soil.

Eric bought his first Saffron corms in 2019, planted 220,000 bulbs of saffron on 0.66 hectare during the first week of March 2021, and have harvested his first flowers.

This high value niche product could provide immense opportunities for farmers in the area and potentially lead to a farming revival in the region.” (Says Eric Brown) who bought his first Saffron corms in 2019, planted 220,000 bulbs of saffron on 0.66 hectare during the first week of March 2021, and have harvested his first flowers.

It offers new opportunities for farmers that suffered under the harsh drought conditions in South Africa and provides job creation for workers in the rural regions of the Karoo.

 

This high value niche product could provide immense opportunities for farmers in the area and potentially lead to a farming revival in the region

The fragrant lavender bloom with the three sigmas clearly visible

Stigmas 


SAFFRON GALLERY

Purple veined Saffron flowers

Meticulously picked by hand

It takes around 600 stigmas to process 1gram of spice

Corms ready for planting

At the picking table

In full bloom

Get in Touch

KAROO FRESH PRODUCE PTY(Ltd)
Elandsfontein Farm
Touwsrivier
SOUTH AFRICA