Effect of irrigation water salinity, manure application and planting method on qualitative compounds of saffron (Crocus sativus L.)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Irrigation Department, Shiraz University, Shiraz, I.R of Iran.

2 Irrigation Department, Shiraz University, Shiraz, I.R of Iran


The objective of the present study is to investigate the effects of irrigation water salinity,
cow manure levels and different planting methods on saffron quality compounds including
crocin (coloring strength), picrocrocin (bitterness) and safranal (aromatic strength). A split-split
plot arrangement was conducted in complete randomized block design with irrigation water
salinity levels (0.45 (fresh water, S1), 1.0 (S2), 2.0 (S3) and 3.0 (S4) dS m-1) as the main plot,
cow manure levels (30 (F1) and 60 (F2) Mg ha-1) as the sub plot and planting method (basin (P1)
and in-furrow (P2)) as the sub-sub plot in three replications. Results showed that the saffron
coloring strength, bitterness and aromatic strength in higher salinity level decreased by 9, 1 3
and 18% in comparison with the lowest salinity level, respectively. However, saffron
(stile/stigmas) yield declined significantly as about 42% by increasing water salinity to highest
level. The saffron crocin and picrocrocin concentration for the in-furrow planting method were
significantly higher than the basin planting method by about 4 and 8%, respectively. Higher
application rate of cow manure (60 Mg ha-1) did not promote the saffron quality compounds.
Furthermore, planting methods showed no significant effect on saffron aromatic strength.
Correlation analysis indicated that saffron quality compounds showed negative relationship with
leaf calcium, sodium and chloride and positive relationship with leaf phosphorus, nitrogen and
potassium at 0.01 and 0.05 significant levels, Furthermore, a positive correlation between crocin
and picrocrocin and saffron yield components (leaf dry matter, corm, flower and saffron yields)
was observed; however, there was no significant correlation between safranal and yield
components. Generally, the saffron quality compounds variations were concurrent with the
saffron quantity variations.