How Do Carrots Grow?

Carrots are grown directly by seed. Farmers use seed potato when growing potatoes commercially but carrots will not grow this way. If the top of a carrot is planted the above ground foliage will grow but the carrot, the taproot, will not regrow.

Carrots come in 5 different types: Danvers, Nantes, Imperator, Chantenay, and Mini. All of these types have lots of varieties to choose from within each category.

Commercially most carrots grown are in the Imperator category because varieties of Imperator carrots produce deep orange and uniform carrots that are visually appealing.

This YouTube video by Eat Happy Project shows carrot seed being planted in the field, carrot harvesting by a top lifting harvester as well as sorting and packaging of carrots.

Taste, yields, top growth, length, uniformity, color, disease resistance, are all factors that come into a farmers decision for which variety of carrot to plant.

Color and uniformity are usually top criteria to create marketable carrots. Farmers want good top growth because machine harvesters pull up carrots from their top growth as seen in the video below at the 1:55 mark.

The top growth of the carrot is sheared off at the top of the belt that does the harvesting. You can see the carrots going down the conveyor belt at 2:00 minutes in without their tops. The tops can be used for livestock feed.

The harvesting machine dumps the carrots into a truck and then carrots are taken to a produce processing center where they are washed, graded, processed, and packed.

To learn how and where commercial carrot seeds are produced check out “Do Carrots Have Seeds?“.

Carrot Plant Life Cycle & Baby Carrots

Carrots are biennial plants that are commonly grown as annuals. Being a biennial plant means carrots take two years to complete their life cycle. Most carrots are harvested after 70 days for their edible taproot and not allowed to complete their life cycle.

For more on the carrot plants life cycle check out “Stages of Carrot Plant Growth

Baby carrots are any carrots that are harvested immaturely and can be harvested anytime the carrot reaches the size of a finger. Most baby carrots in the store are big carrots that are cut to be small.

These baby carrots are true baby carrots that were picked before the carrots grew into their full size. Baby carrots can be ready for harvest 35 days after planting.

Baby carrots became popular in the late 1980’s when a carrot farmer who was tired of not being able to sell his carrots that were blemished decided he was going to sell them anyways. He cut the big carrots into uniform small pieces of carrot and the rest is history.

For the whole scoop on baby carrots check out “The Origin and Evolution of Baby Carrots” by the carrot museum.

Do Carrots Grow In Bunches?

Carrots do not grow in bunches. Each carrot is the root system of one plant. The top growth has several stems that come off of the top of each carrot. Some farmers and gardeners will call different varieties of carrots “bunch” type carrots. These are uniform carrots that look good in bunches.

Do Carrots Grow From Seeds?

Carrots are grown by seed. Carrot plants are capable of being produced asexually, that is being cloned from another carrot, but it will not result in the growth of another carrot.

Grown from the top of another carrot a carrot plant will regrow and flower and produce carrot seeds if pollinated but it will not produce another edible taproot, carrot. Instead if you dig it up from the ground you’ll see skinny roots growing from the bottom and sides of the top of the old carrot.

Carrots grown as clones and let to flower and seed will result in seeds being a mix of the two parent plants and not identical to the carrot they came from. This is because most carrots are grown from hybrid seeds that were crossbred to produce a hybrid with certain qualities like higher yields and disease resistance.

If you bought organic or a colorful variety of carrot there’s a higher chance the carrot was grown from open pollinated or heirloom varieties.

Here is an article about seed production and the difference between open pollinated, heirloom, and hybridized seeds.

Do Carrots Need Pollination?

Carrots do not need pollination in order to produce carrots. The carrot plant will produce a harvestable carrot and above ground foliage as part of its vegetative growth during the first year of its life.

To produce carrot seed for planting the next year pollination is required. Carrot plants are biennials and the flowering and reproductive stages of the plants life cycle occur during the second year of the plants life.

Carrot plants are insect pollinated and require insect activity, mostly bees, to carry pollen from flower to flower and pollinate the flowers.

Carrot flowers are what’s called perfect flowers with male and female organs on the same flower so an insect buzzing around one flower can also cause pollen spread to the stigma of flowers.

To learn where carrots are grown in the world and the history of the carrot plant “Where Do Carrots Grow?“.

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