7 to 10 days before the end of the saffron harvest in the Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha, the Regulatory Council of the Azafrán de La Mancha Designation of Origin has estimated the harvest volume of the producers registered with the PDO at around 600 kilograms, in line with the average of the past few years.
The PDO-protected saffron is cultivated in the region by 300 producers in a total area of 120 hectares distributed between 341 municipalities of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca and Toledo. 50% of the production is intended for the domestic market and the other half for the international market, with the United States receiving almost 40% of those shipments. The next destinations in terms of importance are Canada and Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent, the European countries.
After the flowers are collected in the field, the stamens are delicately picked by hand one by one. Then they are placed on a silk cloth and roasted. This last process can take around 20 minutes and the saffron loses up to 80% of its size, after which it is ready to be packed.
The product is marketed exclusively in containers with a net content not exceeding 100 grams, and never in bulk. This outstanding product has about twenty certified packers in the region.
An atypical campaign
This year's campaign, which kicked off around October 10, has been marked by the pandemic and the safety measures that are being implemented across the production chain.
“The harvest was one of our biggest concerns at the PDO, and that is why we have repeatedly asked our associates to follow the protocols and be extremely cautious. As of today, the campaign is developing normally and without incidents,” says the president of the PDO Azafrán de La Mancha, Carlos Fernández.