Carrots are often classified by their root shape:
- Nantes – Blunt tips; straight, cylindrical roots 7 to 8 inches long; sweeter than most other types; good raw eating. Prefers loose soil.
- Chantenay – Shorter than other types, stocky, taper to a rounded tip; rich, sweet flavor and good storage potential. Coarser texture than others.
- Imperator – Long, tapered roots with stocky shoulders and strong tops; slightly fibrous texture. Stores well. Most common type found in groceries. Prefers deep, sandy soil.
- Danvers – Shorter than Imperator varieties, thick-rooted cylindrical shape, widely used in processing, good for juicing. Stores well. Performs well in heavy, clayey soil.
Soil Nutrients and Requirements
Do best in fertile sandy loam, but will perform well under most conditions if appropriate varieties are chosen. For compact soils choose tapered carrots that can wedge their way into soils like Chantenays or Danvers types. Optimal soil temperature for germination is 55-75°F.
Best quality arises from raised beds, free of stones and debris. Imperator types should only be grown on raised beds that have 10-12” tilled zones.
Thin to 1-2″ depending on desired size
When to Sow
Direct seed as soon as soil can be worked in the spring through mid-summer.
Weeding shortly after germination allows slow-growing carrots to get a head start against fast-growing weeds.
Harvest when carrots have appropriate coloring and flavor has developed. Carrots hold well in the field for up to 3 weeks in the summer and longer in cool conditions. Some varieties, like Napoli, may be over wintered outdoors or in the high tunnel for an early spring harvest. For storage carrots dig roots after frost but before ground freezes.
Store topped carrots in near freezing temperatures with high humidity. Unwashed carrots store just as well as washed but may stain during storage.
Carrot Weevil and carrot rust fly are common pests. Floating row cover can be an effective control for the Carrot Weevil and Carrot Rust Fly. Other tips include delay sowing seeds until June to avoid the first wave of flies, as well as sowing carrots seeds thinly, as the carrot rust flies are attracted to the smell of bruised carrot foliage.
Fungal leaf blights caused by either Alternaria dauci or Cercospora carotae can cause severe defoliation and greatly reduce yields. White mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) manifests as a cottony white mycelium around roots and lower plant parts, usually late in the season.