Carrots are taproots of carrot plants. There is only one taproot or carrot per carrot plant. A taproot is a main root that digs straight down that other roots branch sideways from. This is opposed to a root system that we normally think of that has lots of branches going all different directions, that’s called a fibrous root system.
A carrot or a beet taproot is specialized to store energy for the plant. Both plants are biennials meaning they take two years to complete their life cycle. This is a “trick” that plants have developed to allow them to complete their life cycle in areas with short growing seasons. The plant will use the taproots stored energy to produce flowers and seeds in its second year of life.
How Many Carrots Per Seed?
One carrot comes from one seed. Carrots do not grow in bunches. You might hear gardeners or farmers talking about bunch type carrots. What they’re talking about is types of carrots that look good in bunches. Usually this means long slender uniformly shaped and sized carrots. A bunch type carrot is a variety that produces carrots like that that look good in a marketing sense in a bunch.
How Many Carrots Per Square Foot?
According to Seminis, the highest yields for fresh use carrots is about 8 per square foot. Carrots grown for fresh use or processing are bigger than carrots grown for baby carrots or cut-and-peel production and so need to be spaced further apart to reach their full size.
Farmers growing carrots for cut-and-peel production farmers want carrots that are about 5/8″ thick. A higher plant density is used for carrots this thin.
Square foot gardening in its true form is intensive gardening that uses the recommended spacing between plants to determine how many of a certain plant to grow per square foot. If you want to stay true to the square foot gardening design carrots recommended spacing is 2″ apart and that comes out to 16 carrot plants per square foot.
Carrot Plant Spacing & Yields
Like any other crop, tighter carrot plant spacing will lead to higher yields up to the point until competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight make it difficult for a full size carrot to grow.
Plant spacing and yields has been studied extensively in corn fields because it’s such an important crop. Corn plants will have one ear of corn per plant throughout most of a field but corn on the edges of fields will commonly have multiple ears per plant. There’s no mystery to this it’s simply because the corn on the outside of the field has more access to water, nutrients, and sunlight.
Grow Bigger Carrots
There are two major factors to producing bigger carrots. One is choosing a variety of carrot that is known to produce big carrots and next is giving the carrot plant enough space to reach its full size. Beyond those two is everything else like weather and care that gives the plant everything it needs to thrive and reach its full potential.
The worlds heaviest carrot weighed 22.44 lbs and was grown by Chris of Minnesota. He said that his secret was good soil and not pouring radioactive nuclear waste on the plant. The grower of the carrot replanted it in hopes of getting seed from it the following year. The world longest carrot comes from a UK grower and measured 20 feet 5.86 inches. This guy grew his carrot indoors in a tube for the sole purpose of winning the longest carrot in the world.
To learn how to grow sweeter carrots and other carrot growing tips check out “Carrot Plant Care & Growing Tips“.
Carrot Yields Per Acre
According to the AGMRC (Agricultural Marketing Resource Center) the average yield of carrots in the US in 2015 was 34,000 lbs per acre. There are about 1,000,000 carrot seeds planted per acre with germination rates around 85%. So there’s around a yield of .04 lbs. of carrot per seed or about 40 carrot seeds per lb. of carrot. Luckily there are about 275,000 carrot seeds in a lb. of seed.
Carrot Cost & Profit Per Acre
This breakdown by University of California Cooperative Extension lists item by item the tools and cost it takes to grow acres of carrots. The study lists 5 years of carrot production from 1997-2001. The average value per acre for carrots grown for the fresh market was $5,639 and carrots for the processing market $2,106.
After the five years a projected cost and profit was listed for the next season 2002-2003. Manual labor was estimated at 9.25 throughout the planting to harvesting process. Total land preparation, the growing period, and land rental brought pre-harvest cost to $1,648. Harvest costs including harvest machine rental and hauling vegetables to warehouse, sorting and packing were estimated at $3,825. That brings the total estimated cost of growing and harvesting carrots to $5,473 per acre.
If 37,500 lbs. of carrot were harvested an acre and sold at $5 per 50 lbs. the operation would lose $1,273 per acre. If the same harvest was sold at $7.00 per lb. there would be a gain of $227 per acre