Effect of Drought Stress on the Growth and Development of Saffron (Crocus Sativus. L) in Eastern Morocco
Saffron (Crocus sativus L.; Iridaceae) is the most expensive spice in the world. It has been cultivated in Morocco for centu-ries and has represented a traditional staple for culinary, medical and cosmetic uses. The present work is about the study of the effect of drought stress on Saffron’s mor-pho-physiological and biochemical param-eters. An experiment has been carried out on a 4-year-old saffron plantation planted in an open field located in the experimental station of the Faculty of Sciences of Oujda. The experimental treatment included three water regimes (T0: Control receiving 100% ET0, T1: moderate water deficit receiving 60% ET0, T2: pronounced water deficit re-ceiving only 40% ET0). The results show that the increase in drought stress levels has slightly influenced the different param-eters of saffron growth. At the foliar level, the effect of stress has resulted in a de-crease in the chlorophyll content, a slight decrease in the PSII quantum yield and a Proline content accumulation as soluble sugars and total phenols, which resulted in keeping the relative water content (RWC) and the Malondialdehyde (MAD) content at a level similar to that of the control. In gen-eral, the morpho-physiological adaptation traits were observed even at severe level of water stress (40% ET0) which resulted in an acceptable decrease in stigmas yield.