CARROT: AN IMPORTANT VEGETABLE
DR. S.M. ALAM
Mar 21 - 27, 2011
Carrot is an important winter crop and used as vegetable as well as fodder for livestock. It is cultivated in temperate and sub-tropical regions of the world. The carrot is a member of the parsley family, which includes about 2,500 species such as dill, caraway, cumin, chervil, coriander, fennel, anise, parsley, parsnip, and celery. It also includes poisonous species such a poison hemlock, water hemlock and fools parsley.
Carrots belong to the family Apiaceae, which is characterized by having dissected leaves, umbellate inflorescences, and fruits that are schizocarps, which split into two mericarps. Several hundred varieties of carrot exist with well over 50 different seeds generally available. The orange color is due to a very high level of the yellow-orange plant pigment known (reasonably enough) as carotene. Although almost all plants contain this yellow pigment, the more conspicuous chlorophyll pigment (green) usually obscures it from view. When chlorophyll breaks down in autumn, or when a plant is suffering from poor nutrition, the underlying yellow carotene pigments of leaves become obvious.
AROUND THE WORLD
China is carrot production King of the World. The US ranks among the other top nations in the production of carrots: fourth in acreage and volume, third in terms of yield (31.7 tons/ha). Russia, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom are also leading producers. Worldwide 13.37 million tons were produced in 1990, a 30 per cent increase over the past decade. Carrot is the second most popular vegetable in the world after the potato.
RANK (2006) COUNTRY METRIC TONS 1 China 8,395,500 2 Russian Fed. 1,730,000 3 U. S. A. 1,601,790 4 Poland 935,000 5 Ukraine 706,500 6 U. K. 677,144 7 Italy 641,558 8 Japan 630,000 9 Germany 555,000 10 Netherlands 430,000 11 France 417,800 12 Turkey 380,000 13 Mexico 378,517 14 India 350,000 15 Belgium 320,000 16 Indonesia 308,675 17 Belarus 306,000 18 Australia 302,560 19 Canada 301,450 20 Morocco 300,000
Carrot is a very popular vegetable in Pakistan. It is rich in carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, and contains appreciable quantities of thiamine and riboflavin. It is probably a native of Europe and British Isles.
Carrot is cultivated in all provinces of Pakistan. It is a cool-climate crop and develops normally in a wide range of temperatures. Root-growth is fastest at temperatures between 15 degree C and 18 degree C; carrot plant is biennial and completes its life-cycle in two years. It needs light soil, which is well manure. It grows in two ways i.e. on ridges and on flat beds.
Seeds are planted about 1.25 to 2 cm deep, keeping the row-distance 30 to 60 cm. Carrot requires abundant and well-distributed supply of water. The weed- control during the early stage of growing-season is essential. The yields are about 20,000 to 30,000 kg per hectare. Higher yields can be obtained by using advanced agronomic practices.
There has been a progressive increase in area and production of carrots in Pakistan. In 2007-08, the area increased to 13.9 thousand ha and production 242.3 thousand tons. The average shares of the provinces in the over all area and production of carrots, based on the data of 2004-05 are given in the table.
CARROT ACREAGE AND PRODUCTION PROVINCE-WISE
PROVINCE AREA 000 HA PERCENT SHARE 000’ TONNES PRODUCTION PERCENTAGE SHARE Punjab 8.2 59 157.7 65 Sindh 1.7 12 18.2 7 KP 0.6 5 8.6 4 Balochistan 3.4 24 57.8 24 Pakistan 13.9 100 242.3 100
Due to varying climatic conditions, there is a wide range of sowing time in Pakistan. It is planted in August and harvested in November / December. It is planted during September / October and is ready to harvest during December / January. It is planted during November and is harvested in February/March. The crop is raised in the hilly areas. It is sown in March/April and is harvested form June to July.
A seed rate of 20 to 25 kg per hectare is usually practiced. Carrot is seeded about 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep in the soil for better germination. The optimum distance between row-to-row should be 60 cm and plant-to-plant as 3 to 4 cm. Seed should be sown on both sides of ridges. The seedbed must be kept moist during the germination period. The soils which crust badly are likely to prevent a good stand of carrot. There must be enough moisture in the soil at the time of seed sowing to facilitate better germination. The first irrigation may be needed five to six days after sowing and repeated again after five to six days till the completion of germination. Water should be applied gradually and moderately. To prevent curst formation, ridges should not be submerged in water. Thereafter, the crop should be irrigated after an interval of 15 to 20 days, depending on the weather conditions.
Unfinished compost or manure used as a fertilizer for carrot induces rough and branched roots. These materials should be well composted before being added to soil where the crop is grown. A well rotten farmyard manure should be applied at the rate of 25 to 30 tons per hectare, at the time of land preparation for maintaining proper physical conditions and fertility status of the soil. General recommendation for chemical fertilizers is 52 kg N, 45 kg of P2O5 and 62 kg of K2O. The half quantity of N should be applied before seed sowing and remaining half of N should be applied four to six weeks after sowing with subsequent irrigation.
Carrots for fresh market are harvested when the roots are 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter at the upper end. The field should be slightly irrigated a few days before harvesting. All the tops should be removed since they wilt and begin to decay first.
Cold storage prolongs the life of carrot by slowing physiological changes. Topping and bagging the carrot in transparent film reduces the loss of weight and water during transportation to the market. Carrots can be kept in good condition for six months at a temperature of about 32∞F with 90 to 98 percent relative humidity. However, it deteriorates in quality in storage owing to slow loss of sugar in respiration.