PERFORMANCE OF SAFFRON GROWTH ON DIFFERENT SOILS UNDER HOMOGENEOUS ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITION
Soil is the major factor determining saffron yield. Although saffron tolerates different soil types, some soils with specific characteristics perform better than others. This work was conducted to evaluate the performance of saffron crop on different soil types under homogeneous environmental conditions. Four soil types sampled from different regions were tested: Rendzic Leptosols, Anthropic Regosols, Hypercalcaric Fluvisol and Eutric Cambisols. Soil samples were put in large plastic pots (radius=0.27 m, height=0.44 m) and organized in complete block design with four replicates. Combined analysis for four years revealed significant differences between soil types regarding most yield parameters. Saffron corms performed better on calcareous clayey Rendzic Leptosols soil with respect to plant height(PL), flowers per plot, flowers per corm cluster, total stigmas fresh and dry weights, fresh and dry weight of single stigmas and total number of corms. Corms grown on Hypercalcaric Fluvisol soil produced the largest content of Crocin, Picrocrocin and Safranal. A regression analysis was used to evaluate the performance of soil types on the number of flowers per mother corm through four years of the study. In this regard, a positive significant higher slope was obtained for Rendzic Leptosols (y = 4.23x - 8514.3, R²= 0.69, p<.0001). Quantitative yield attributes such number of flowers per corm cluster was significantly correlated with organic matter t (r = .60, p=.016) and calcium (r =.52,p.041) contents. Correlation analysis showed that the soil parameters most attributed to the saffron yield were organic matter, phosphorus, potassium and calcium. For soils with limiting factors (Eutric cambisols and anthropic regosols) further studies should focus on improving their performance under saffron crop.