January 7, 2017 12:52:42 am
National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) scientists have successfully grown Saffron Crocus in a greenhouse, quite close to the ones flowering in Kashmir. Saffron in some parts of the world is also known by the name of Zafran and better known as kesar in the country. Other than culinary benefits of the wonder spice, it has medical benefits. The perfect type of climatic conditions required for saffron are available in Kashmir.
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Dr C K John, a senior scientist from Biochemical Sciences Division and his team, have been working with three objectives to develop a biotechnological alternative to cultivation of saffron – to produce a new variety of Saffron Crocus suitable for wider environmental conditions and to standardise the parameters for high-density greenhouse cultivation of saffron outside the crop’s present range.
”I have tried to understand why this Saffron Crocus cannot be grown elsewhere besides Kashmir. So, the soil and environment requirements were addressed to grow saffron in a greenhouse in Pune. First, soil from a saffron field from Kashmir was studied for details and a suitable planting medium was formulated,” John told The Indian Express.
A modified greenhouse was established for cost reduction and energy saving. Saffron corms were procured from Kashmir and planted in a greenhouse cooled by natural processes, without a Fan: Pad system or ACs. A simple irrigation method was devised to minimise the use of water and give cold/ ice cold water directly to the roots as required.
Another challenge was to achieve production of big replacement corms that was dependent on healthy growth of plants till end of April and production of sufficient amount of starch in the leaves, and its translocation to the developing daughter corms.
In an earlier attempt, medium size replacement corms were produced. The corms once planted produce replacement corms and continue for 7-10 years; the corms from same greenhouse can be used for replanting and surplus can be sold.
“This year, we grew saffron in as many as 100 pots and found that the quality was comparable to the variety grown in Kashmir. Our aim is now to improve upon this technology and help our farmers grow saffron in a cost-effective manner,” John added.
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