How to grow better Carrots

CULTURE: Any good garden or field soil will grow carrots. Deep, loose, and fertile sandy loam and peat soils with good moisture-holding capacity grow the straightest and smoothest roots.

PLANTING: Sow from early spring to mid-July, 3/4-1″ apart (about 30 seeds/ft.), 1/4- 1/2″ deep, in 2″ wide rows, 16-24″ apart. For minimum soil compaction, use raised beds with 2 or 3 rows 16-24″ apart, beds 5-6′ on center. Sprinkle the soil surface to keep moist. Don’t allow soil to crust before the emergence of seedlings which take 1-3 weeks, depending on temperature and moisture. If soil moisture during germination is an issue, we recommend using pelleted seed. If necessary, thin young seedlings to 3/4-2″ apart, depending on root size desired. Keep weed-free by tine weeding and shallow hoeing. To prevent greening, cover exposed crowns.

DISEASES: Blights can reduce yield and quality. Alternaria blight shows as brown-black lesions edged with yellow on leaf margins beginning on oldest leaves. Leaflets may shrivel and die. Cercospora blight first appears as small dark spots with yellow margins on the younger leaves and stems. To prevent blights, practice 3-year crop rotation. Copper fungicides (see Index) can be employed as a preventive measure or control.

INSECT PESTS: Carrot rust fly and wireworms. Provide fertile growing conditions and avoid ground recently in sod if possible. Exclude adult insects with fabric row covers (see Index.)

HARVEST: Carrots may be dug any time after they reach a good orange color (bright, not pale), at which stage flavor develops. Generally the best harvest period lasts about 3 weeks (longer in cool, fall weather), after which time the roots may crack or the taste and appearance may decline. Make a few sowings at 3 week intervals for a continuous supply of tender carrots at their prime.

STORAGE: Plant carrots intended for winter storage about 100 days before expected fall frost. Carrots store best at 32°F (0°C) and 95% RH.

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