Originally it was grown mainly for it's flowers, a source of yellow and red (carthamin) dyes, though Ancient Chinese were using it's oil for a variety of things, like candle making, etc.
Because safflower has a similar color with saffron, it was often used to make fake saffron, thus one of the safflower's nicknames is "Bastard's saffron". Other nicks are "Mexican saffron", "dyer's saffron" and "False saffron".
Now safflower is mostly grown for it's oil, though there is still a demand for it's flowers in many regions.
The oil in safflower contains almost 75% linoleic acid, which is higher than soybean, corn, cottonseed, peanut or olive oils. This type of safflower is used primarily for edible oil products such as salad oils and soft margarines. Scientists disagree on whether oils high in polyunsaturated acids, like linoleic acid, can decrease blood cholesterol and the related heart and circulatory problems. Still, it is considered a "high quality" edible oil and public concern about this topic made safflower an important crop for vegetable oil.
Varieties that are high in oleic acid may serve as a heat-stable, but expensive cooking oil used to fry potato chips and french fries. As an industrial oil, it is considered a drying or semi drying oil that is used in manufacturing paints and other surface coatings. The oil is light in color and will not yellow with aging, hence it is used in white and light-colored paints. This oil may also be used as a diesel fuel substitute, but as other vegetable oils, is currently too cost-prohibitive for this use.
The meal that remains after oil extraction is used as a protein supplement for livestock. The meal usually contains 24% protein and a lot of fiber. Decorticated meal (most of hulls removed) has about 40% protein with a reduced fiber content. Foots are used to manufacture soap. The birdseed industry buys a small portion of the seed production. Sheep and cattle can graze on safflower and stubble fields after the harvest.
In 2009, 646 427 tonnes of safflower seeds were produced by 23 countries. Over the last 50 years, world production of safflower seeds grew by about 100%. Highest ever crop of safflowers was in 1979, when 1 110 535 tons were produced. Lowest crop since 1961 was in 1961, when 326 997 tons were produced.
Land usage decreased by 1% since 1961. In 2009, crop of safflower used 752 455 hectares of land , which is about 0,048% of all arable land in the world.
Biggest producer in the world is India with 189 000 tons as of 2009.
Biggest producer per capita is Kazakhstan with 4.36 kg of safflower seeds produced as of 2009.
As much as 95 grams of safflower seeds were produced per potential consumer of 2009. That is almost 500 calories.
World safflower seed crop could supply as much as 4.6 million people with 2000 calories a day, and there is enough of protein for 5.7 million people.
Best average worldwide yields were 961.8 kg per hectare in 1998, worst, since 1961-- 431.8 kg/ha ( 1961). Individual record belongs to USA 2447.2 kg per hectare in 1971.
Production of safflower seed by country:
|Iran (Islamic Republic of)|
|Occupied Palestinian Territory|
|United Republic of Tanzania|
|United States of America|
|World + (Total)|
Here is the list of all articles at Ironrye: