Farmers plant carrot seed at a rate of 1-6 lbs. of carrot seed per acre, depending on what they intend to use their carrot crop for.
Carrots destined to become processing carrots (canned or frozen) get the most space in the field and are planted at a plant density of 180-250k carrot plants per acre.
Carrots that are grown to be used as “cut-and-peel” carrots are planted with the highest plant density, around 1.2 million carrot plants per acre, and require the most seed per acre, 4-6 lbs.
Carrots that are “cut-and-peel” carrots are what we see most often as marketed as baby carrots. The story about baby carrots is an interesting one.
This article by Seminis, a large commercial seed seller, talks more about commercial carrot seed planting.
Should I Water Carrot Seeds After Planting Them?
Most definitely you should water carrot seeds after planting and until they sprout and after they sprout! Moisture and temperature are critical to seeds germinating.
The moisture is the catalyst that gets enzymes inside the seed to begin the germination process. It also softens the shell of the seed and mixes with the starch or protein present inside the seed to make a soluble that the plant can use as nutrition.
The point of watering immediately after planting is twofold. To set the seeds in place where you’ve planted them and to supply moisture to the seeds.
Use room temperature water to water seeds. Too much water can lead to the seed rotting so let the soil dry out almost completely before watering again.
Soil temperature is the other critical element to seed germination. The optimum temperature for carrot seeds to germinate at is 80 degrees. A lower temperature will lead to slower germination and if it’s too cold no germination or bad germination rates.
Soil temperature and last frost date are the best way to know when it’s safe to plant seeds directly into the garden. A soil thermometer is a simple but useful garden device that looks like a meat thermometer but measures down to lower temperatures.
Measure soil temperatures periodically throughout the day or between 9-11AM to get a good average. Carrots are a root vegetable crop that can be planted when soil temperatures are 50 degrees or above. Warm weather crops like watermelon need a soil temperature of 70 degrees before they should be planted.
Soaking Carrot Seeds In Water
You do not need to soak carrot seeds in water. The point of soaking seeds in water is to increase germination rates and speed up germination. In my experience, it can actually lead to poorer germination rates.
Generally, seeds that have a hard outer exterior like beans or corn benefit more from soaking. I personally don’t soak any seeds before planting. Keeping the soil around the seeds moist and warm is the best way to get good germination rates.
A row cover can be used to increase soil temperatures and keep small tender plants away from pests. Black plastic mulch or other mulch will also increase soil temperatures but less than clear row covers. These two options on the ground will keep weeds away from the plants but will not provide the physical barrier over the plants.
Plant Carrot Seeds in a Starter Tray
Carrots are generally seed planted into the garden because they are sensitive to transplanting. If you’re starting them indoors make sure to use a compostable starter pot that can be transplanted directly into the ground.
Cow Pots and peat pots are compostable pots. Cow pots are environmentally friendly starter pots that are made by a third generation dairy farmer and were featured on an episode of “Dirty Jobs”.
To plant carrot seeds in a starter tray use a pen to make a small hole in each starter pot 1/4″ deep. Cover the carrots with dirt and pat down lightly. Then water the starter tray from the bottom.
To water a starter tray from the bottom fill the tray with 1/4″ of water and place the starter pots back in the tray. Wait 20-30 minutes and check on them by touching the potting mix at the top of the pots. When the soil at the top of the pots feels moist dump out the remaining water in the tray.
Plant Carrot Seeds in a Pot
To plant carrot seeds in a pot you want to have at least 1.5 gallons of dirt per carrot plant. So in a 5 gallon pot aim to have 3 carrot plants. Use a pot that measures at least 12″ deep and has good drainage
Use a pen and make holes 1/4″ deep to place carrot seeds in. Planting in shapes is a good and easy way to maintain good spacing: a triangle, diamond, pentagon, hexagon. Cover the seeds with dirt and water in gently from above with room temperature water.
Plant Carrot Seeds in a Raised Bed or Garden Plot
To plant carrot seeds in a raised bed or garden plot overplant the seed and come back to thin down. Plant 2 carrot seeds per inch along the row and later thin down to a carrot plant every 2″. Use a stick or other tool to make a line 1/4″ deep where you want the rows of carrots with rows spaced 12″ apart.
To thin down carrot plants choose plants that are spaced too close together or that look weeny and chop them down at the base just above the soil. Do not pull them out by hand to avoid disturbing the roots of the carrot plants you want to leave.
Prepare Soil For Planting Carrot Seeds
To prepare soil for carrots break up the ground 12-18 inches deep. This will make sure the soil is loose and not compacted making it easy for the carrot plant to grow in and help the soil warm up faster. Soil temperature is a key ingredient as to when to plant all garden plants as talked about below in the last section.
Fertilizing the soil regularly is almost always a necessity to get good yields of fruit and vegetables. Organic Plant Magic is my favorite organic fertilizer. It measures 6-5-5 and lots of different organic materials with over 55 trace minerals and 13 different beneficial bacteria strains.
Jack’s Classic is a great standard water soluble fertilizer that measures 20-20-20. Garden-Tone and Jobe’s Organic are other reputable organic brands.
MySoil test kit is a reasonably priced soil testing kit that will test your soil for 13 nutrient levels and PH.
Please comment below about anything above!