Growing Carrots, Part 1 Preparation

Carrot (Daucus carota L.) originated from Central Asia with Afghanistan as the primary center of origin. It is one of the most important vegetables commonly grown in the Philippine highlands. The production areas are in Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya, Cebu, Davao del Sur, Negros Oriental, and Bukidnon. In 2006, the volume of production was 35,694 tons (t) from a total of 3,486 hectares (ha) nationwide. Benguet was the largest producer followed by Cebu.

Uses and Nutritional Value

Carrot is usually cooked with other vegetables for “chop suey” and other dishes. It is also eaten raw with lettuce and pepper. Raw carrot sticks and curls are attractive garnishes and appetizers. Carrot tops are high in potassium, but are bitter. A small portion of the tops may be cut finely and mixed with salads, or cooked in broths or soups for flavoring. It is also made into juice, cake, jam, wine, and dye. It also adds flavor to butter. Carrot is also used as a coffee substitute in Germany.

Carrot provides the highest vitamin A content of all vegetables. Bright orange carrots contain two important phytochemicals: carotenoids and flavonoids, which are natural bioactive compounds. These phytochemicals work with nutrients and dietary fiber to protect people against diseases. Beta-carotene, a member of the carotenoids family, protects the body by decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, and certain types of cancers. The deeper the orange color in carrots, the more beta-carotene content. The nutritional value of carrots actually increases with cooking. The tough cellular wall on raw carrots does not break down very easily. Thus, cooking carrots until just tender makes their nutrients, including beta-carotene, more beneficial. Cooking also brings out their natural sweetness.

Carrot is credited with many medicinal properties. It is said to cleanse the intestines. Carrot is also effective as a diuretic and an overall tonic. It is believed to have remineralizing, antidiarrheal, and antianemic properties. Carrot is rich in alkaline elements that purify and revitalize the blood. It nourishes the entire system and helps in the maintenance of acid-alkaline balance in the body. Being a rich source of vitamin A, it has been used extensively in the human diet to improve eyesight. In fact, carrot was used in aerial training schools in World War II to improve the eyesight of students.

Per 100 grams (g) edible portion, carrots contain:

  • Water (g) – 86.7
  • Energy (kcal) – 52.0
  • Protein (g) – 1.5
  • Fat (g) – 0.4
  • Carbohydrates (g) – 10.5
  • Dietary fiber (g) – 3.4
  • Ash (g) – 0.9
  • Calcium (mg) – 69.0
  • Phosphorus (mg) – 38.0
  • Iron (mg) – 2.1
  • Vitamin A (ug) – 1,668.0
  • Thiamine (mg) – 0.04
  • Riboflavin (mg) – 0.04
  • Niacin (mg) – 0.8
  • Ascorbic acid (mg) – 8.0

Production Management

Varieties

Carrot comes in different colors—white, yellow, orange, purple, and violet. Several hundred varieties exist, but there are four main types:

  • Imperator – has long roots (23r-25 cm), small shoulders and tapered tip;
  • Nantes – has medium length roots (15 cm), uniform diameter and blunt tip;
  • Danvers – is large, with medium length roots (18 cm), a processing type used for dicing and slicing; and
  • Chantenay – is short (13 cm) with large shoulders, and usually a large, distinctly colored core.

Practically all varieties in the Philippines are of the Chantenay type. Open pollinated (OP) and hybrid varieties are available commercially.

For mid and high elevation areas:

  • OP Varieties – Kuroda, New Kuroda OP, Nikko Kuroda, KS Kuroda, Super Kuroda, New Kuroda Guson, Kuroda Max, Kuroda Improved, Chunlong, Kuroda Selection, Kuroda Gold, Terracota, Kuroda EW 35, Royal Chantenay
  • F1 Hybrids – Beniyama, S-505, Hybrid Sigma, Winter, All Season Cross, Rain Winner, Terracotta F1

For low elevation areas: Kuroda strains such as EW 35 and Terracotta.

Soil and Climate Requirements

Carrot grows best in high elevation areas 1,000 m above sea level. Under such conditions, carrots are more succulent and less fibrous, with smoother texture and deeper color. Roots attain optimal color when air temperature is 15-21 °C, but color deepens rapidly in this temperature range about 3 weeks before harvest. Temperatures below 10°C and above 30°C reduce quality and yield of carrots.

Carrot can also be planted in low and mid elevation areas, but only during the coolest months. Otherwise, the roots will be fibrous, lighter in color, and deformed.

Carrot grows best in deep sandy loam soil rich in organic matter with pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.8.

Land Preparation

Plow and harrow the field 2-3 times. Prepare raised beds 20 cm high, 0.7-0.8 meter (m) wide, and 0.3 m apart. Pulverize the soil and incorporate fully decomposed chicken manure at 3-5 t/ha and complete fertilizer at 3-5 bags/ha one week before planting.

Planting

One hectare of carrots requires 5-10 kg seeds. Before planting, make shallow lines across the prepared beds spaced 10 cm apart. Sow the seeds thinly and cover lightly with soil.
In low elevation areas, the best time to plant is from the last week of October up to February or during the coolest part of the year. In the highlands, planting can be done throughout the year.

Fertilization

The general fertilizer recommendation is 126 kg/ha N, 71 kg/ha P,Os, and 175 kg/ha K20. However, fertilization should be based on soil analysis. Apply organic fertilizers such as well-decomposed manure or compost at 3-5 t/ha 1-2 weeks before planting to contribute 60-100 kg NPK and micronutrients. The remaining nutrient requirement can be applied at 30 days from sowing, just after weeding and thinning. Cover the fertilizer with soil during hilling up. Tea manure and fermented plant juice (FPJ) may also be used to improve soil fertility.

photo from www.freedigitalphotos.net

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