Saffron from New Growing Areas: Farmer Insights and Quality Analysis

Jenn Hoskins
21st June, 2024

Saffron from New Growing Areas: Farmer Insights and Quality Analysis

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study focused on saffron quality and yield in Taliouine, Morocco, and other regions
  • Saffron quality varies significantly between Taliouine and other regions, with Taliouine samples generally showing higher crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal levels
  • Factors like altitude, humidity, and cultural practices significantly influence saffron quality, with higher altitudes correlating with better quality
Saffron, known as the most expensive spice in the world, holds significant socio-economic importance, especially in rural areas of Morocco. Taliouine is the main production area for saffron in Morocco. Despite its economic relevance, there has been a lack of research on the factors affecting the quality and yield of saffron as perceived by the farmers cultivating it. A recent study conducted by researchers at Mohammed First University aims to fill this gap by evaluating the quality of saffron samples from Taliouine and other regions, while also surveying producers on the characteristics of quality and the main influencing factors[1]. The study involved collecting saffron samples from Taliouine (four samples) and other main extension areas (four samples). These samples underwent physicochemical analyses according to the ISO/TS 3632-2 standard, which allows classification based on the Moroccan standard NM 08.1.037/2007 into categories I or II. The analyses focused on specific extinction values at different wavelengths to measure the concentrations of crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal, which are compounds responsible for saffron's color, taste, and aroma, respectively. The results revealed significant differences between the samples from Taliouine and those from other regions. For instance, the specific crocin extinction (E440nm1%) ranged from 313.77 to 351.36 in Taliouine samples, compared to 204.04 to 492.87 in samples from other regions. Similarly, the specific picrocrocin extinction (E257nm1%) and specific safranal extinction (E330nm1%) also varied significantly between the two groups. Notably, one sample from abroad was found to be fraudulent and non-compliant with almost all chemical characteristics. The study also included a survey of saffron producers to gather their views on the factors affecting saffron quality and yield. Cross-analysis of the survey data and chemical analyses showed correlations between stigma length and altitude (r = 0.763*), crocin content and altitude (r = 0.856*), and safranal content and humidity (r = 0.722**). Producers indicated that yield is influenced by the size of the bulbs and the leading cultural practices. These findings align with previous studies on saffron and its components. For example, the study on the MYB family of transcription factors in Crocus sativus identified a gene, CsMYB1, that is involved in the regulation of stigma morphology[2]. The expression of CsMYB1 was found to be developmentally regulated, with high transcript levels in stigma tissue. This suggests that genetic factors, in addition to environmental factors like altitude and humidity, play a role in saffron quality. Another relevant study developed a method for quantifying total safranal, the main component responsible for saffron's aroma, using a dynamic supercritical-CO2 medium[3]. This method provided a more accurate measure of safranal content compared to the traditional "safranal value" index. The current study's findings on the correlation between safranal content and humidity further emphasize the importance of accurate measurement techniques for quality control. In conclusion, the study by Mohammed First University provides valuable insights into the factors affecting saffron quality and yield in Morocco. By combining physicochemical analyses with producer surveys, the research highlights the significant roles of altitude, humidity, and cultural practices in determining saffron quality. These findings not only contribute to the scientific understanding of saffron cultivation but also offer practical implications for improving saffron production in rural areas.



Main Study

1) Saffron of Taliouine and new extension areas in Morocco: farmers surveys and physicochemical analysis

Published 20th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Identification and possible role of a MYB transcription factor from saffron (Crocus sativus).

3) Determination of total safranal by in situ acid hydrolysis in supercritical fluid media: Application to the quality control of commercial saffron.

Journal: Analytica chimica acta, Issue: Vol 578, Issue 2, Sep 2006

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙