In this article, we are dealing with carrot farming. First off, I will share some interesting things for you to know. Which country is the biggest producer of carrots globally? It is funny I am going to mention China again – it is interesting how China is so dominant in many fields on a global scale.
The scientific name for carrots is Daucus carota subsp. sativus. This is a crop that found its way into the world from Asia. There are various colours of carrots that are out there. The most popular (probably the one most have ever seen) is the red-orange one. You can also find colours such as purple and yellow, even white. Kind of like beetroot it is the root that is edible. Carrots can be eaten raw, added to salads, cooked, and even processed into value-added products. Carrots reach maturity on average after 4 months.
Importance Of Carrots
The nutritional value of carrots cannot be overemphasised. You probably might have heard that eating carrots is good for your eyesight – they are also good for your teeth. Yeah, they are; carrots are a rich source of vitamins (Vitamins A (for the eyesight I mentioned earlier), B, and C for instance). Fibre (roughage) and minerals are significant constituents of the nutrients found in carrots.
Carrots are supposed to be grown in temperatures of anything between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius. Temperatures ranging from 10 to 25 degrees Celsius are also suitable. In principle, carrots do well under conditions that are relatively cool to warm. Anything too cold leads to slow growth; anything too hot leads to heat stress.
The best soil for carrot production is loam soil. The soil must be characterised by good depth and good drainage. Soil pH ranging from 6 to 7 is the most ideal. If soil pH is not as should be then it is advisable to rectify it by addition of applying fertilizers. Land preparation must loosen the soil as much as possible.
In areas where it is usually cold sowing time is August to March. January to November is best for warm areas. In typically hot areas sow between February and September. Carrots seeds can be sowed straight into the land space where they must ultimately grow and mature in. This eliminates the extra labour of transplanting characteristic of most crops. Seed treatment of about a day before sowing is advised. When sowing it is common practice to mix the carrot seeds with sand. Sowing depth can be as much as 2 centimetres.
It is recommended just after sowing the seeds to apply mulching for purposes of protection from heat and also soil water retention. Mulch should be anything loose enough and yet appropriate enough to do the aforementioned. Finely chopped strands of grass can do the trick here.
Thinning And Spacing
About 1 month after germination there is need for thinning. This is particularly important if the seeds were sown too close to each other. You have to use your discretion to remove other plants to leave an appreciable space for each to thrive. If we are to talk in terms of measurable spaces you can ensure 2 to 10 centimetres is left in between plants.
When it comes to row spacing the inter-row should typically be 20 centimetres. The other guiding metric you can use is the number of plants per square metre. If you can have roughly 150 plants per square metre that would be appropriate. This number is not cast in stone; it varies when you factor in the number of rows a bed has.
Carrots can grow even with very limited spacing. However, you must bear in mind that good spacing must be adhered to. If this is not done then stunted growth due to competition for soil nutrients will be rampant.
Water is crucially important for the optimum growth of carrots. This is because they grow deep into the ground. Thus irrigation is largely inevitable as dependence on natural rainfall might not be a good thing to do.
You must pay attention to the growth of weeds. Earlier I pointed out that thinning should be done after a month from germination. As for weeding, it must start much earlier than that. As soon as weeds begin to appear they must be dealt with.
Harvesting And Storage
Harvesting is done by hand – hand-held implements can be used where possible. Mechanized approaches can be used, funds permitting. The idea is to pull out the roots carefully ensuring that they do not get damaged. Physical damage to the edible roots compromises the ability of the carrots to stay fresh. When it comes to storage it is mostly about maintaining certain optimum temperatures. If the temperature is 3 degrees Celsius (± 1) shelf life can be as long as 5 months.
Important Factors To Consider
Carrots, just like most vegetables, are susceptible to pest attacks and diseases. Some of the most prevalent pests are aphids and nematodes whereas common diseases are leaf blight and powdery mildew. When harvesting you can base on the diameter of the root bulbs – 2 to 3 centimetres is good for the market. Some of the common varieties are Danvers, Chantenay, Imperator, Yellowstone, and Nantes.
Cost Of Production
One hectare requires roughly seven kilograms of seeds. However, it is not surprising to find three kilograms sufficing for one hectare. Basic costs entail seeds and plants, fertilisers, chemicals, fuel, water, labour, power, packaging, and transportation. The total cost of growing 1 hectare of carrots can require approximately US$6000. A profit of least US$2000 can be made per hectare.
Yields vary depending on the efficacy of farming approaches used. The types of varieties used are also another factor that determines yield levels. The number of tonnes that can be realized from 1 hectare varies from 20 to 60 tonnes, even more.