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May 28, 2023
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Climate crisis and neglect threaten Spain’s saffron crop

Growers fear a perfect storm for a tradition that has long bound rural communities together

A sharp wind shunts clouds across the low and endless skies of La Mancha as Carlos Fernández stoops to pluck the last mauve flowers of the season from the cold earth. Their petals, which stain his index finger and thumb blue, enclose an almost weightless prize whose crimson threads are treasured in Spain and across the world.

But despite the prices his crop fetches, and the weighty comparisons those prices inevitably invite, the life of a saffron grower is not without its trials, travails and frustrations.

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