Does anyone use this as part of a guild? I just saw these in the Fedco Bulbs catalog and I thought local saffron might be a crop that would be worth trying. I know it takes lots of flowers to produce much, but since it is valuable, maybe it would be worth it.
I have it. I love it. I don't particularly use it as part of a guild. What I love is that it is one of the last flowers in the fall, and the leaves tend to stay green all winter, so it is a nice addition to almost any permanent planting.
I've been getting bulbs every year with the idea that I will stop buying them when I have enough. It's a great plant. Looks fantastic and smells amazing. They seem to at least double in quantity every year if they're in a good spot with enough sun and drainage. They rot pretty easily from what I gather.
I'm not exactly sure how they would benefit a guild besides being a late blooming flower, but I put them very close to the base of trees as they seem happy there and I have a formula for finding them later. I would say the big value add to growing them yourself would be freshness. There's something special about them when they aren't all dried and shriveled. You'd have to charge an arm and a leg to make it worthwhile. If you assume 13k+ strands make an ounce, at 90 some odd dollars per ounce, you're looking at 1 cent per strand. You would have to capitalize on the localness and the freshness of this to consider it a real cash crop. If anyone has any contrary experience and actually makes money off of it, I'd like to hear about it. For me, this is a personal use sort of thing or great for presents.
On that thought, I would imagine that you could make a whole lot more money selling the bulbs than the actual saffron strands. Just keep in mind that the bulbs do not store well at all. I've been happily buying bags of the bulbs for about $20 a pop. I can guarantee that I won't make that money back selling saffron, but I could easily see it happening with the bulbs. I'll bet if you put a bulb in a nice looking container and sold it on the day it was blooming that you could fetch a price worth the effort.
Here's a video of me messing around with my saffron plants:
A farm near me recently plowed 2 acres and planted saffron, and that's it.
They hand-sort the flowers and pull out the saffron (or whatever the processing they do). They seem to be doing well with it. Saffron could be a huge money maker if you have the time and energy to get it into a packet. The price per pound is astronomic.