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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Quantification of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Metabolites Crocins, Picrocrocin and Safranal for Quality Determination of the Spice Grown Under Different Environmental Moroccan Conditions

Authors
item Lage, Mounira - INRA
item Cantrell, Charles

Submitted to: Scientia Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 20, 2009
Publication Date: April 9, 2009
Citation: Lage, M., Cantrell, C.L. 2009. Quantification of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Metabolites Crocins, Picrocrocin and Safranal for Quality Determination of the Spice Grown under Different Environmental Moroccan Conditions. Scientia Horticultureae. 121:366-373.

Interpretive Summary: The primary goal of this study was to propose a sustainable substitute crop with high added value in some Moroccan agricultural areas with low and erratic rainfalls, for their socio-economical development. The quality of the saffron spice crop produced under different Moroccan environmental conditions has to be evaluated prior to recommendation for commercial production. For this purpose, saffron was grown in experimental plots for the first time in eleven different experimental zones with a disparity of altitudes, soils and climates. Saffron quality depends chemically on the concentration of its three major secondary metabolites; crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal which are respectively responsible for its colour, taste and odor. Data analysis showed that the altitude has a significant positive effect on crocins content. However, it is necessary to continue supplementary research on the impact of the environment on the quality and include additional sites so as to cover a large gradient of soils and climates enabling the categorization of the region that could give a high quality saffron. Nevertheless, this study conducted over three years gives an idea about the region to grow saffron with high crocins content. Also this study suggested that for the experimental saffron produced under different environments, considerable improvements in the aroma content should be done without losing colour by trying other drying methods.

Technical Abstract: The primary goal of this study was to propose a sustainable substitute crop with high added value in some Moroccan agricultural areas with low and erratic rainfalls, for their socio-economical development. The quality of the saffron spice crop produced under different Moroccan environmental conditions has to be evaluated prior to recommendation for commercial production. For this purpose, saffron was grown in experimental plots for the first time in eleven different experimental zones with a disparity of altitudes, soils and climates. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used to quantify the three most important saffron components crocins, picrocrocin, and safranal which are respectively responsible for its colour, taste and odor. Saffron quality showed a significant variation of the three saffron components among experimental sites and between sites and commercial samples. Commercial control samples showed significant high crocins and picrocrocin contents compared to experimental sites, but lower safranal than some experimental sites. The respective average values, in % dry matter, of crocins, safranal and picrocrocin across all sites altogether are 29.01 + 5.6; 0.22 + 0.11 and 14.04 + 7.1. Analysis of environmental impact on saffron quality showed that the altitude significantly affects crocins (R²=0.54, p<0.05). Crocins over three years of study was significantly stable under each specific environment tested (p>5%). Meanwhile, for the same period, safranal has shown a big variability between years (p<0.05).

Last Modified: 12/26/2014
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