Safflower Cultivation Practices

By TamilNadu Agricultural University on 18 Dec 2018 | read

SAFFLOWER (Carthamus tinctorius)Image title


A. Rainfed 
1. Karthigaipattam (Nov-Dec)
All districtsK 1, CO 1

Particulars of varieties

ParticularsK 1CO 1
ParentagePureline selection from American spiny varietyPureline selection from CTS 7403 (Non spiny)
Duration (days)120125
Yield (kg/ha)
Oil content (%)3233
Special featuresspiny florets, suitable for Southern districtsNon-spiny, tolerant to Alternaria, moderately resistant to wilt



  • Plough with tractor 2-3 times with a mould board plough or 5 times with a country plough. 
  • Break the clods in between the ploughings and bring the soil to a fine tilth.


  • Spread 12.5 t of FYM or compost or composted coir pith per ha evenly and incorporate in the soil.
  • If the manure is not applied before commencement of ploughing, spread the manure evenly before the last ploughing and incorporate in the soil.

NOTE: Do not leave the organic manure exposed to sunlight as nutrients will be lost. 

      Apply N at 20 kg/ha basally.


      Adopt a seed rate of 10 kg/ha.


      Adopt a spacing of 45 cm between rows and 15 cm between plants.


      Select mature good quality seeds, free from pest damage and fungal attack.


  • Treat with Carbendazim or Thiram at 4 g/kg of seed in a polythene bag and ensure a uniform coating of the fungicide over the seed.
  • Treat the seeds 24 hours prior to sowing. NOTE: Seed treatment will protect the young seedlings from root rot disease in the early stage.


  • Sow the seeds in line at a depth of 2 to 3 cm and cover with soil. b. Sow using gorru or country plough.

NOTE: First week of November is the best sowing time.


Thin out the seedlings to a spacing of 15 cm between plants on the 15th day of sowing.


Hoe and weed on 25th and 40th day of sowing.


  1. Observe the crop considering the average duration of the crop.
  2. The leaves and entire plant loose their colour and turn brown at maturity.
  3. Cut the plants at the bottom.
  4. Keep the plants in the threshing floor and beat the plants (heads) with sticks till the mature seeds are separated.
  5. Winnow the seed and dry in the sun.
  6. Collect and store the seeds in gunnies.

Crop Protection

Pest of Safflower

Gram pod borer/ Capsule borer:  Helicoverpa armigera

Symptoms of damage:

  • In early stage of crop growth larvae feed on leaves and shoot apices
  • Later, the larvae shift to the developing capitula
  • The symptoms are perforated leaves, perforated involucral bracts, partially or completely eaten capitula in the bud stage and bored developing capitula

Identification of the pest:

  • Eggs:  Spherical in shape and creamy white in colour, laid singly
  • Larva: Shows colour variation from greenish to brown. It has dark brown grey lines on the body with lateral white lines and also has dark and pale bands.
  • Pupa: Brown in colour, occurs in soil, leaf, pod and crop debris
  • Adult: Light pale brownish yellow stout moth.
  • Forewings are olive green to pale brown with a dark brown circular spot in the centre.
  • Hind wings are pale smoky white with a broad blackish outer margin



LarvaImage title

PupaImage title

AdultImage title


  • Intercropping with non host crop like wheat or barley
  • Avoid chickpea as intercrop
  • Excessive application of nitrogen should be avoided
  • Ha NPV can be applied at 250-300 larval equivalents/ha
  • Conserve Campoletis chloridae, Enicospilus sp, etc

Safflower caterpillar: Perigaea capensis 

Symptoms of damage:

  • Image titleThe larva feeds on the leaves and sometimes on capitulum too
  • It also feeds on bracts, flowers, capsules
Identification of the pest:
  • Larva: Stout, green and smooth. The anal segment is humped and the body has some purple markings
  • Adult - Dark brown in colour, medium sized moth on; Forewings are dark brown with pale wavy marks; Hind wings are light brown


  • Intercropping with non-host crop like wheat
  • Excessive application of nitrogen should be avoided
  • Spraying of carbaryl 50 WP@ 2.5 - 3.00 kg/ha or fenvalerate 20 EC @ 250 ml/ha

Capsule fly/ Safflower bud fly: Acanthiophilus helianthi rossi

Symptoms of damage:

  • Newly hatched larvae feed on the soft parts of the capsules
  • Affected buds show small bore holes
  • The infested buds rotten with a foul smelling ooze coming out  of the apices

Identification of the pest:

  • Larva:  Maggot is dirty white in colour
  • Adult: Flies are ash coloured with light brown legs.


  • Application of dimethoate 30 EC @ 600-650 ml/ha or malathion 50 EC @ 1.00 litre/ha or phosphomidon 100 EC@ 150-200 ml/ha. About 600 to 650 litre of water is needed for spraying in about one hectare area.

Safflower aphid: Uroleucon carthami

Symptoms of damage:

  • Curling and yellowing of tender leaves
  • Secrete honey dew like secretion on upper surface of the leaves and plant parts forming a black sooty mold which hinders photosynthetic activity resulting in stunted growth
  • Finally the plants dry up
  • Nymphs: Reddish brown
  • Adults: Large sized, black with pear-shaped body and conspicuous cornicle
Identification of the pest:


  • Avoid late sowing
  • If the attack is observed in the border rows take control measures
  • Avoid excess use of nitrogen
  • Maintain 2 or 3 rows of Maize and Sorghum around the fields
  • Release of Chrysoperla eggs/grubs @ 1-2/plant
  • Conserve Aphidencyrtus aphidivorus, Micromus cinearis, Ischiodon scutellaris, Harmonia octomaculat and Aphelinus sp
  • Spray dimethoate 30 EC @ 750 ml/ha,40 and 60 days after sowing. Use 500 litres of spray mixture and 20 kg dust formulation/ ha

Diseases of Safflower

Alternaria blight: Alternaria carthami


  • Image titleIt is the most destructive disease.
  • Dark necrotic lesions 2-5 mm in diameter are formed first on hypocotyls and cotyledons.
  • Symptoms also appear on stem and severely infected plant gets blighted.
  • Brown discolouration appears on the stem, dark brown spots with concentric rings up to 1 cm in diameter appear on the leaves which later develop into large lesions.
  • Seeds also may be affected. Dark sunken lesions are produced on the testa. It may rot and damping off of seedlings occur.
  • Avoid growing in low-lying areas and flooding under irrigation.
  • Remove and destroy the diseased plants.
  • Seed treatment with Carbendazim with 1.5g/kg of seed.
  • Spray Mancozeb (0.25%) immediately after disease is noticed and repeat the spray 15 days later depending on the intensity of disease.

Leaf spot: Cercospora carthami

SymptomImage title

  • Safflower plants few weeks after planting or at flowering stage are commonly attacked.
  • Circular to irregular brown sunken spots of 3-10 mm diameter are formed on leaves.
  • Spots are surrounded by yellow halos.
  • Symptoms first appear on lower leaves and spread to upper leaves.
  • Stems and nodes may also be affected.
  • In severe infections bracts are also affected with reddish brown spots.
  • Affected flower buds turn brown and die.   
  • Remove and destroy the diseased plants.
  • Deep summer ploughing,
  • Avoid growing in low-lying areas and flooding under irrigation.
  • Seed treatment with thiram 3 g/kg and spraying of mancozeb 2.5 g ; or carbendazim 1 g per litre of water.

Powdery mildew: Erysiphe cichoracearum

SymptomImage title

  • The disease is characterized by whitish powdery growth on leaves.
  • Later the fungus spreads over the entire leaf. Leaves turn yellow and dry up.
  • Use resistant varieties.
  • Follow field sanitation.
  • Seed the crop at the recommended time.
  • Spineless genotypes are more susceptible.
  • Spray wettable sulphur 3 g/l or Carbendazim 0.05% for the control of the disease

Mosaic: Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)

SymptomImage title

  • In CMV infected safflower plants young leaves show irregular yellow or light patches alternating with normal green areas.
  • Leaves may become blistered and distorted and infected plants are stunted.
  • In few plants primary leaves are produced, forming a rosette of leaves exhibiting mosaic mottling and from the centre of this, the axis bearing secondary leaves is produced.
  • It is transmitted by aphids.
  • The disease can be controlled by roguing and destruction of the  infected plants.
  • Remove and destroy the diseased plants.
  • Do not delay irrigation until the crop exhibits moisture stress symptoms.
  • Spraying of systemic insecticides, monocrotophos 1.5 ml or Dimethoate 2ml, for the control of aphid vectors.

Rust: Puccinia carthami

SymptomImage title

  • Seeding infection causes twisting towards one side. Chestnut brown pustules are formed on hypocotyl leading to collapse of seeding.
  • On older plants girdling and hypertrophy of the stem base may occur.
  • Small, powdery chestnut brown pustules of 1-2 mm in size develop on leaf surface which later turn black.
  • Rust symptoms appear on leaves, flowers and fruits in the form of uredopustules which are brown in colour.
  • In seedling stage initially orange yellow spots appear, later turn to brown to black on cotyledons resulting in drooping and wilting of the seedlings.
  • Avoid growing in low-lying areas and flooding under irrigation.
  • Remove and destroy the diseased plants.
  • Do not delay irrigation until the crop exhibits moisture stress symptoms.
  • Destruction of plant debris.
  • One or two sprays of Hexaconazole/propiconazole 1 ml/litre 0.05%) or mancozeb (0.25%) at 15 days interval.
  • Seed treatment with thiram or captan 3g/kg.

Wilt: Fusarium oxysporum f.sp.carthami

SymptomImage title

  • Lesion at soil line is the first symptom noticed which extends inside and affects the vascular system.
  • Symptoms become distinct when plants are in 6-10 leaf stage as yellowing of leaves followed by wilting, epinasty and vascular browning.
  • Infected plants produce small sized flower heads which are partially blossomed.
  • The fungus survives in seed, soil and in infected debris.
  • The disease is severe in acidic soils with high nitrogen and warm moist weather.    
  • Crop rotation
  • Water stress should be avoided.
  • Seed treatment Pseudomonas fluorescens recorded the least wilt-disease incidence.
  • Soil application of Trichoderma harzianum @2.5 kg/ha. T. harzianum and T. viride seed treatment @ 10 g/kg seed.
  • Seed treatment with Carbendazim (ST)
  • Seed treatment with Captan or Carbendazim @0.1-0.2% 3 g/kg.
  • Seed treatment with Trichoderma viride mutant and Carbendazim (0.01% a.i.) and soil.
  • Application of potash (15 kg/ha) at the recommended dose reduced wilt incidence besides giving higher yields of safflower.

Post Harvest Technology 

Like pulses, oil seeds are rich in protein and in addition they contain a high level of fat. Hence they are not only good sources of protein but are concentrated source of energy. They do not contain an appreciable amount of carbohydrate but contain high level of B-vitamins. Groundnuts are particularly rich in thiamine and nicotinic acid. Oil seeds produced in the country are mostly used for oil extraction.


Gingelly seeds56351843532514505709
Groundnut roasted570226402327773703
Mustard seeds5418204042244907008
Safflower seeds35651326335182368235
Sunflower seeds6205205241182806705

In India oilseeds like groundnut, mustard, safflower, are more commonly grown for edible oil purpose.

Oil extraction: The oilseeds are cleaned, dehusked and oil is extracted by mechanical pressing, screw pressing, prepress solvent extraction and direct solvent extraction.

Protein isolate: After solvent extraction, it is treated with dilute sodium hydroxide at pH8. The proteins are separated by filtration and washing with water and then used for different purposes.


Groundnuts resemble other pulse in general nutritive value, except that they are rich in fat. Groundnuts are boiled or roasted and consumed. But the chief product is the oil, which can be used either as cooking oil or for making margarine and soap. The secondary product is the residue or cake left after the expression of the oil. It is also purified and used in supplementary mix. The major proteins of groundnut are arachin and conarachine which is lacking in lysine and methionine and its quality can be improved by either adding these amino acids or foods rich in the same.

Extraction of Sunflower Oil    

Both solvent extraction process and mechanical expression methods are in use for the extraction of oil from the sunflower oilseeds. In the expression of oil by the screw press, 60 to 70% of the oil from the meal is recovered. The operations and the processes followed for the mechanical extraction of oil using a screw press is outlined below. 
The oilseeds are cleaned to remove all foreign materials including stones, metals and dust from the seed.
Then dehulling of the clean seed is done to reduce the fibre content and increase the oil and the protein contents in the dehulled kernel.  
The kernels are then allowed to pass through the roller mills to reputre the seed and increase the oil recovery efficiency. 
The rolled flakes are then cooked by heat treatment for further increase in oil recovery.
The oil from the cooked, flaked is extracted by pressing the cooked flakes in the expellers. The oil is then filtered to remove the seed particles. 
The sizes of the deoiled cakes are reduced and then these are bagged for storage.
The crude oil is refined for the production of edible grade oil.