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Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is an annual, herbaceous, one of the most drought-resistant oilseeds.

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
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©H. Zell (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Economic importance

Safflower refers to an oilseed plant that is cultivated in arid areas with unsuitable conditions for growing sunflowers.

Safflower seeds contain 25-32%, or 50-56% in the kernels, of light yellow semi-drying oil, which is not inferior in taste to sunflower oil. Safflower oil is used for food purposes, for the manufacture of margarine or for technical purposes.

Safflower cake is bitter in taste, but in small quantities it can be used for feeding farm animals. 100 kg of cake correspond to 55 feed units. It is often used as fertilizer or fuel.

Safflower seeds serve as a good bird feed.

Crop history

Safflower has long been cultivated in India, Egypt, Afghanistan, Transcaucasia, Central Asia as an oilseed and dye plant.

Currently, safflower is grown only for oil production.

Chemical composition

The petals of the corolla contain the dye cartamin.

Cultivation areas and yield

The sown area of ​​safflower in the USSR in 1986 was 6 thousand hectares. Its crops were located on rainfed lands in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

In Russia, the main sown areas are located in the Lower Volga region.

The average yield of safflower seeds is 1.0-1.2 t/ha.

Botanical description

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is an annual herbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family.


The root is taproot, highly branched, penetrates up to 2 m deep into the soil.


Stem erect, branching, glabrous.

Plant height up to 90-100 cm.


Leaves sessile, lanceolate, lanceolate-oval or elliptical, edges with small teeth, which often end in spines. At the top of the plant, the leaves decrease in size.


The inflorescence is a basket with a diameter of 1.5-3.5 cm.

On one plant 5-50 baskets are formed.

The flowers are tubular. Corolla five-parted, yellow or orange.

Cross-pollinating plant.


The fruit is an achene similar to a sunflower achene, with a hard, hard-to-split shell. The shell accounts for 40-50% of the mass of seeds.

When ripe, the seeds do not crumble.

The weight of 1000 seeds is from 20 to 50 g.

Biological features

Safflower is a heat-loving and very drought-resistant short-day plant. Well adapted to dry continental climates.

Safflower makes the greatest demands on heat during the flowering and ripening phases.

Seedlings are able to withstand frosts down to -5…-6 °С.

In wet and cloudy weather, the flowers are poorly fertilized, and the baskets can rot.

It is undemanding to the soil. Safflower is also adapted to saline soils. However, on fertile soils, its yield increases significantly.

Crop rotation

In crop rotation, winter wheat and corn can be precursors to safflower.

Safflower itself can serve as a good precursor for spring crops.

Fertilizer system

Safflower responds well to the application of nitrogen-phosphorus fertilizers with a consumption rate of N 30 kg/ha, P 60 kg/ha.

Fertilizer efficiency increases in wet years.

Tillage system

The tillage system for safflower is similar to that for sunflower.

On weedy fields, deep plowing of fallow land, combined with layered peeling, gives good results.


For sowing, seeds with a purity of at least 95% and a germination capacity of at least 85% are used.

Sowing begins at the earliest possible time, at the same time as the sowing of spring wheat.

The most common sowing method is wide-row, with a row spacing of 45 cm.

The seeding rate is 10-12 kg/ha.

The seeding depth is from 5 to 8 cm and depends on soil moisture.

Crop care

Caring for safflower crops consists in harrowing along seedlings across the rows.

Also carry out 3-4 inter-row tillage.


The method of harvesting safflower is single-phase.

Harvesting begins in the phase of full ripeness of the seeds.

For harvesting use converted grain harvesters.


Crop production / P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov and others; Ed. P.P. Vavilov. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and textbooks for higher educational institutions).

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.