Getting started with carrots

Here are some guidelines regarding plant population, fertilisers and climate to get you started on carrot production.

Plant population
How many carrots you plant will affect their size when you harvest. More plants mean more competition for the nutrients in the soil, resulting in smaller carrots. So keep the number of plants as low as possible, depending on the size of your plot.

Climate
Climate affects yield. If conditions are warm or hot, experts suggest fewer plants, because carrots like these conditions. Leaves can become large and the plants will be forced to compete with others for light. Some will literally block out the light plants need for good growth. Under cooler conditions, higher numbers are recommended, because growth is slower and tops tend to be smaller. As a result, competition for light is reduced.

Planting in beds
These vary in design. Generally, three or four double rows are planted per bed. However, plants in the middle rows tend to have smaller leaves due to more competition for light in the centre of the bed. Plants in the outer rows should be much shorter.

Fertilisation
Carrots require specific fertilisation to ensure good production. Healthy leaf growth and development gets the crop started. Next, you need to encourage the production and storage of sugar.In the earlier stages of growth, carrot plants responds well to nitrogen. This helps produce healthy tops. Sugar production can be boosted after leaf development with phosphates and potassium. Calcium is also important.

This increases the carrot’s strength. You can apply magnesium in the later stages of growth to help improve colour. Carrots need a small, continuous supply of nitrogen to keep their leaves healthy. But don’t give too much, as the leaves will get too big and affect the plant’s development.

Source: SAKATA Seed Southern Africa. For more information call 011 548 2800, or visit www.sakata.com