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                                         Information @ a Glance
  • Safflower is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual, usually with many long sharp spines on the leaves. Plants are 30 to 150 cm tall with globular flower heads and commonly, brilliant yellow, orange or red flowers which bloom in July.
  • Safflower oil is flavorless and colorless, and nutritionally similar to sunflower oil. 
  • There are two types of safflower that produce different kinds of oil: one high in monounsaturated fatty acid and the other high in polyunsaturated fatty acid .
  • Safflower is a thistle-like plant with seeds somewhat similar in appearance to small white sunflower seeds.


  • Safflower thrives in heavy clays with good water-holding capacity, but will also grow satisfactorily in deep sandy or clay loams with good drainage. It needs soil moisture from the time of planting until it is flowering. It requires a well-drained soil and a position in full sun.
  •  Safflower is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 20 to 137cm, an annual average temperature range of 6.3 to 27.5deg.C and a pH in the range of 5.4 to 8.2. Plants are reported to tolerate bacteria, disease, drought, frost, fungus, high pH, phage, salt, sand, rust, virus and wind.
  • Safflower grows in the temperate zone in areas where wheat and barley do well, and grows slowly during periods of cool short days in early part of season.
  • Safflower is a long-day plant, requiring a photoperiod of about 14 hours.
  • Safflower is unlikely to be a worthwhile crop in Britain since it only ripens its seed here in long hot summers. There is more chance of success in the drier eastern part of the country with its usually warmer summers, the cooler moister conditions in the west tend to act against the production of viable seed.


  • Safflower is primarily raised for the birdseed market, although the edible oil crushing industry also provides a marketing opportunity. Most safflower grown in South Dakota is marketed as bird seed. The market for safflower oil include uses for human consumption and industrial uses. After crushing the seed for oil, the remaining meal can be used as an animal feed supplement, with a protein content of about 24%. The birdseed market prefers white, blemish-free seed with a test weight of 38 pounds per bushel or greater. Diseases such as Alternaria as well as environmental conditions can cause the seed to be discolored and/or low test weight. As a result, the seed may be unmarketable in the bird seed industry.


  • Safflower oil is also used in painting in the place of linseed oil, particularly with white, as it does not have the yellow tint
    which linseed oil possesses.
  • Safflower flowers are occasionally used as a cheaper substitute for saffron.
  • Safflower is used mainly as a cooking oil, in  salad dressing, and for the production of margarine.
  •  Safflower was grown for the dyes produced from its flowers


  • Safflower is one of humanity's oldest crops, but is a minor crop today, with about 600,000 t being produced commercially in more than sixty countries worldwide.
  •  India, United States, and Mexico are the leading producers, with Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, China, Argentina and Australia accounting for most of the remainder.
  • Safflower production in South Dakota is concentrated in the west central, northwest and southwest regions of the state, with minor production in the north central region.
  • Leading production states, planted acres and production, in descending order of acres planted, from 1997 Census of Agriculture.

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