With funding from a private foundation, the suitability of cultivating safflower in Switzerland was investigated. Main focus was on variety testing and on development of cultivation techniques.
Safflower is an ancient crop which until the beginning of the last century was used chiefly as a dye plant – hence its alternative common name, ‘dyer’s thistle’. Although nowadays safflower is mainly grown in Australia and the United States, there might be potential of reintroducing safflower as oil crop to central Europe. Results showed, that safflower proved a remarkably undemanding crop with a high tolerance to drought. Yields were up to 30 dt/ha, whilst oil content with chemical extraction stood at 23%.
Currently, ‘Sabina’ is the only variety commercially available. A gene bank screening was conducted in cooperation with the University of Hohenheim in 2004 with the aim of identifying variety origins with a high tolerance to plant diseases, stable yields, and high oil content.