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Tricks to get the highest production of saffron in Aquaponics

After the trials we’ve carried out for three months inside our greenhouses, these are our tricks to get the highest production of Saffron in Aquaponics.

We’ve started on early September planting 1.000 bulbs into our DIY aquaponic systems and wicking beds. This delay was caused by the high temperatures of the season.

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Since, saffron requires a consistent lowering of temperature to get awakened. This is due to its growth cycle. In fact, the bulbs from July are at their sleeping stage. Moreover, the flourishing of this crop occurs only once a year for a month. This is the reason why it’s the most expensive spice on the market. Besides the harvest conditions and the specialized workforce needed whenever you farm it in the field.

Read our free Lesson 6: Plants to grow for a local niche-market demand >>

Tricks to get the highest production of saffron in Aquaponics

Farming saffron inside greenhouses

However, this was the first time we’ve farmed it inside greenhouses and comparing five different methods to grow it in Aquaponics. In fact, in the previous 10 years my father had just tested its cultivation in media bed design systems inside warehouses and shops. That is to say in quite controlled environmental conditions. Whereas, carrying out a production inside greenhouses means that it’s affected by the daylight cycle and the climate events. Therefore, we had to tackle several situations out of our control. Such as, for instance, the strong windstorm that hit and damaged our first greenhouse.

Tricks to get the highest production of saffron in Aquaponics

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BEST CONDITIONS FOR THE SAFFRON BULBS FLOURISHING

1. low temperature

Furthermore, we noticed many differences in the attained yield of each greenhouse. Mainly correlated to the their location. In other words, we got the best results where we had fewer hours of sunlight exposure. Because, the inner temperature of the greenhouses was lower. This is quite clear if you think that the penultimate aquaponics system (inside our fourth greenhouse) we planted the bulbs into, had been the first one in bloom. Compared to the last one (inside our first greenhouse) that produced quite no flowers at all. In fact, our first greenhouse is exposed to the sunlight quite all day. Unlike our third greenhouse that it’s overshadowed by a big oak. As well as our second greenhouse that we built on the terrace below the first one.

Hence, this is the first of the tricks to get the highest production of saffron in Aquaponics: a low temperature.

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2. ENOUGH SURFACE AREA & SUBSTRATE

Then, we saw that we attained the best yield in the media bed design systems. Indeed, we equated it with other two aquaponics system designs and two aquaponics farming method: deep water (floating rafts) vs wicking bed and hydroponic glasses vs floating pots vs pots inside a grow bed.

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In short, we’ve ascertained that the bulbs of saffron require enough space and substrate (expandable clay) to flourish. In fact, the bulbs planted into our DIY hydroponic glasses have produced fewer flowers than those one inside the pots. Even despite the fact we kept an higher density of bulbs in the latter (4 bulbs in each pot).

3. WATER FLOW

Furthermore, we corroborated what we’d already verified. That is, an higher molding rate of the bulbs with the roots constantly immersed in water. Yet, it surprised us to discover that they’re not sensitive to a constant flowing of water throughout the grow bed.

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3. FOLLOW THE GROWTH STAGES

The last one of the tricks to get the highest production of saffron in Aquaponics I want to share with you is to start with few fish/crayfish at the beginning of the bulbs growth cycle. Since until they produce the first flower, they take the nutrients from the bulbs themselves. Then they start to absorb externally the nutrients. Therefore, it’s advisable to grow together with them some leafy greens, like lettuce.

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conclusions

In conclusion, in this Fall we acknowledged further and relevant information on the farming of this crop in Aquaponics. 

We’re already putting them into practice Currently, our bulbs aren’t anymore in our aquaponic systems, but we transplanted them in our fields. Because they won’t be productive until August 2019. In fact, in May each bulb will split itself in two and then in July it’ll dry and get in its sleeping stage. So that we’ll collect around 2.000 bulbs and plant them again into our aquaponics systems.

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