Carrots are a member of the Apiaceae (formerly called Umbelliferae) family. Most of the carrots have an orange colour. However, you will find other colors such as red, yellow, or purple. carrots are very high in beta carotene, and also contain Vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, other vitamins and minerals, and dietary fiber. In this century, carrots have become a popular cooking vegetable, salad item, snack food, and raw vegetable. You will find carrot cultivation throughout the globe. However, there is a wide range of varieties. Major carrot producing countries are Chaina, Russian Federation, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, Morocco, United Kingdom and Japan. In India, major carrot producing states are Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
Economic Importance Of Carrot Cultivation
Carrot gives good profit to the growers. Generally, most of the revenue comes from fresh selling. Therefore, fresh carrot fetches more profit than processed one. The costs of carrot production vary depending the production location and the level of mechanization. However, it has also good export potential. Baby-cut carrot products have also good market demand. Major export market for carrots are United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
Health Benefits Of Carrot
- First of all, carrots are rich in beta-carotene. It produces vitamin A in the liver. This is good for eyesight.
- In addition, carrots reduce the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.
- Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair and nails.
- Carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste.
- A study found, people who ate five or more carrots a week were less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate only one carrot a month or less.
Best Varieties For Carrot Cultivation
- Bolero: It resists most leaf pests.
- Nantesa Superior: It has sweet flavor. Furthermore it adapts to any soil.
- Thumberline: It is round carrot. Therefore, it is good for clumpy or clay soil.
- Taper-Rooted or Pointed: These roots decrease gradually in diameter from crown to tip and taper to a point.
- Stump-Rooted or Blunt: These roots are shorter than Imperator or Danvers types. However, they grow to a length of 4.5 to 5.5 inches with a medium to large neck.
- Cylindrical: This type is perfect for home growers.
- Ball-Shaped: People generally use this variety for baby carrots, mixed vegetables and freezing.
- Autumn King: The largest of carrots and last to mature. This is a very healthy and vigorous carrot with the potential of highest yielding of all.
- Amsterdam: These are small, slender, finger shaped carrots, excellent for using raw.
Agro Climatic Condition For Carrot Cultivation
Carrots develop normally within a great range of temperatures. Root growth is fastest at a temperature between 15 ºC and 18 ºC, while optimum temperatures for shoot growth are somewhat higher. Seeds of carrot may germinate at low temperatures but the germination period is shorter at higher temperatures. Therefore, it requires a soil temperature of at least 10 ºC. Carrots are tolerant of long days but need low temperatures to induce flowering.
Suitable Soil For Carrot Cultivation
Carrots do well in well drained, deep, loose and Loamy soils. Looseness of soils helps in the production of good round-shaped roots and a high yield. They love light, stone free, well drained, fertile soils with plenty of well rotted organic matter in them. Rich sandy peaty soils are perfect in providing the best conditions for the carrot roots to penetrate deeply and to swell. The pH value 6.5 to 7.5 is the perfect for best results. Curiously even within a variety a carrot’s colour and shape can vary according to the type of soil and commencement temperature. Lower temperatures give yellower carrots and reduced size and shape.
Carrot Cultivation Basic Steps
First of all, you will need to plough the soil to a depth of 30-40 cm. Prepare raised beds 1 m wide and 20 cm high. Incorporate 5-10 tons/ha of cattle manure or compost to beds and level. You can mix compost fertilizer at the time ofland preparation.
You can sow carrots in raised beds having dimension of 1 metre breadth. Mix seed with dry soil for even distribution and row sow or broadcast on raised beds. However, for enhancing germination, you can soak the seeds in water for 12-24 hours before sowing.
The fertilizer dose depends upon the fertility of soil andamount of organic manure applied to the crop. Therefore, for a good yield, you can apply 25 t/ ha of well-decomposed FYM into the soil. However, general application recommendation is 100kg N, 60 kg P2O5 and 60 kgK2O for optimum yield.
Intercultural operations like weeding and hoeing are necessary to check the weed growth and provide soil aeration. Hoeing not only checks weeds but also facilitates soilaeration. In addition, you must cover the devoloping root with soil to avoid discoloration of the crown.
You must arrange irrigation immediately after sowing. However irrigation schedule depends on the planting season and the available soilmoisture. You will need to irrigate the carrot dield at 10-12 days interval during winter and 5-6 days interval during summer. Therefore, you must stop irrigation 2-3 weeks before harvesting to increase the sweetness and taste of the carrots.
rrots are generally free from pests and diseases. However, you must follow some control measures in case of leaf blight and soil insects.
Leaf blight: Spray with Indofil M-45 @ 7 level tea spoonful in 1 kerosene oil tinful of water (18 litres) Repeat at 15 days intervals till the disease is controlled.
Alternaria blight: Rotate crops. Treat seeds with a recommended fungicide. Finally, destroy infected plant debris.
Soil Insects: Apply Thiodan 4% Dust @ 17 Kgs/ha or Ekalux 1.5% Dust @ 45 Kgs/ha before preparation of the land.
Harvesting & Storage In Carrot Cultivation
The edible roots become ready for harvesting in about100-120 days depending on the variety. Therefore, you can apply a light irrigation a day before harvesting to facilitate lifting of roots. You can harvest the crop manually by uprooting individual plant. However, for processing purpose, you must left the carrot in the ground for a longer period. After harvesting, you must cut the green tops and separete the carrots. Generally, Asiatic types yield 25-30 t/ha whereasEuropean types yield 10-15 t/ha. Grading is important in carrots for fresh selling. Therefore, you must pack them in uniform and similar shape.
Temperature is the most important factor affecting the storage of carrots. You can store the carrots for 3-4 days under ambient conditions. However in cold storage, you can store topped carrots at temperatures of 0 – 4.4 C with 93-98% relative humidity for 6 months. Therefore you can store untopped carrots only for 10-14 days at 0 C.