How and When to Harvest Carrots

ALL ABOUT HOW AND WHEN TO HARVEST CARROTS

Carrot (Daucus carota), a rich source of ‘ Vitamin A ‘ is easy to grow and harvest. A splendid variety of carrots are available throughout the World; typically, orange-colored but colors can vary from red to purple to yellow.

Carrots are available in different shapes; cylindrical, short, and fat, round, even finger-sized. The height also depends on the variety with the longest growing up to 10 inches (25 cm).

We can harvest carrots at any stage depending on whether we want grown, bigger carrots or smaller, sweet young ones.

WHEN TO HARVEST CARROTS

Harvesting Carrots is an easy job once you get well versed with the required knowledge.

TIME REQUIRED BEFORE STARTING HARVEST

When to Harvest Carrots
When to Harvest Carrots

We generally harvest carrots 60 to 90 days after planting them as per the variety.

The actual time will depend upon the variety sown. If all conditions are ideal, the carrots take less time to mature and vice-versa.

In case you are harvesting the tops of the crop, then the carrots would take more time to mature.

Larger varieties can take more time than the smaller ones. In case you want to harvest only the leaves, they are ready when they reach a height of four to six inches.

If you leave them in the ground for more than desired time, they will continue to grow. But if you keep the carrots in the ground for super long periods, then their taste may alter.

 

HOW TO KNOW WHEN TO HARVEST CARROTS

There are two ways of getting the preliminary signs of time to harvest. We can check them and know when the crop is ready to harvest.

1) Date on the Seed Packet

One way to know that harvest time is around is to check the harvest date on the packet of the seeds sown.

Once the harvest date is near, you can check the maturity signs of the crop. This method is not very accurate. Usually, the crops harvest a few days after the specified time on the packets of carrot seeds.

2) Bulging Roots

When carrots become eligible for a harvest, it shows a few symbols. The most important one is the roots. The roots bulge around from the ground when they are ready to lift.

Keep an eye on the crop and when you see the crowns of the crop coming out, be ready for harvesting! 

WAYS TO CHECK THE MATURITY

There are generally many ways to see if the crop is ready or not.

Let us discuss them in detail;

1) Size: One way to check whether the crop is mature is to see the diameter of the carrot. It should be at least half an inch. 

If you want fully mature carrots, then wait for the size to be big enough. Do not wait for more when the crown reaches an inch in diameter.

If the carrots do not bulge out, we can remove the surface soil by brushing some soil off from the tops to check the size of the crown.

2) Colour: The colour is another indicator of the maturity of the crop. A beautiful colour indicates that we can lift the crop.

3) Taste: You can also get a few carrots out of the ground every few days and taste them. We should start the harvest when the roots are sweet. If they are not sweet, wait for a few more days to get a better harvest.

BEST TIME TO HARVEST CARROTS

Carrots are biennial in nature. If you fail to harvest and leave the carrots in the soil bed, the tops will flower and produce seeds next year.

There are two harvest times for carrots in the year- summer and winter (autumn) Harvesting.

1) Summer Harvesting

If you are harvesting in summer, pull the harvest once they are sweet. The hot weather and winds could make the carrots bitter. So, do not leave the carrots in the ground for long once you achieve the desired sweetness.

2) Winter Harvesting 

If you are harvesting in autumn or winter, there is no need to hurry. The carrots stop growing significantly in the cold season. So, we can get the crop out when we need it. Remember to get the crop out before the first heavy frost because the roots may rot or crack in the soil.

It would be good to lift the crop by late autumn to keep them well in cold storage and avoid damage due to hard frosts.

 Also, Read – When to Harvest Garlic

HOW TO HARVEST CARROTS

While harvesting carrots, it is important to keep in mind a few things. Harvesting on a cooler day in autumn is better so that the crop does not get over warmed in the sun.

Let us look at what matters for a good harvest;

1) Water the soil bed

Make sure to hydrate the crop before pulling the crop. Dry soil is not good for the harvesting process. Go for Harvesting after a rain shower or a day after irrigating the field.

It is essential to make the soil damp to get-well-hydrated carrots, but we do not want soggy soil as this will make digging a messy task.

2) Loosen the Soil around the Carrots

Use a hand cultivator, shovel, or a Hori-Hori knife to loosen the soil around the roots. Do not harm the Carrots while doing the process.

Make sure to ensure that the roots do not break while grabbing them out of the earth.

3) Pull the Roots

Once, the soil and mud around the crop are loose we can pull out carrots easily from the soil.

Still, if the carrots are not coming out easily, loosen the soil a bit more.

Also, Read- When to Harvest Potatoes 

HARVESTING ONLY THE LEAVES

It is possible to harvest just the leaves. Cut the leaves when they reach the required size. While cutting the tops, take care to leave an inch or so above the crown. 

Take extra care during the process. Do not harm the roots. 

If you leave the roots undamaged with enough leaves attached to them, they will grow again before you reach the harvest time of the main crop.

STORING THE CARROTS

We can store a lot of varieties of carrots. Some of them stay good for a longer time than others.

Also, the flavour of a few varieties reaches its peak during storage. Once, the carrots achieve their peak taste, it starts deteriorating. So, it is good to use the smaller roots first.

Once the carrots are out of the ground, we can store them for longer shelf life. Keep in mind the following while storing your carrots;

1) Removal of Tops

Before storing the harvest, make sure you cut-off the green tops. It will be better to cut off the greens leaving 1 inch of the top on each still attached using a sharp knife.

If you fail to cut off the extra tops, then the sugars would suck out from the roots.

Remember not to cut the root ends or the root hair as it might be an invitation to the microorganisms and pests.

2) Brush off excess Soil

Once, the carrots are out of the ground, brush off excess mud from the harvest. 

Remember not to wash the carrots or you must consume them within a lesser time as it may reduce the shelf life of the veggie.

Even if you wash the carrots to clean them, do not forget to air dry them before storing them.

3) Finding Right Place for Storage

Places having temperature in a range of 32–38 °F/0– 3 °C is best for storing carrots. Relative humidity of 98% is best.

Carrots will stay fresh in the refrigerator or root cellar for 1 to 3 months at about 40 °F (4.4 °C).We can even keep Blanched carrots in the freezer for up to 6 months.

4) Options for storage

Seal the carrots in airtight plastic bags, and refrigerate them. If you keep the carrots directly in the refrigerator, then the carrots would limp and become soft.

We can store carrots in large bins or crates lined with plastic sheets. Enough air circulation should take place for better storage. If storage has required humidity levels with ventilation, the carrots might not rot or catch moulds.

We can store carrots in perforated buckets at home. You may drill some holes in the bucket in bottom, sides and top. We can also use Cardboard boxes with plastic sheets. Put some moistened sand in the bottom of the box. Put the box in a cool, dry area.

TO WASH OR NOT TO WASH

Before storing some people advise washing while others advise not to wash carrots.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of both.

1) Washing

Advantages: When we need to send carrots to the winter market, they would be clean. So, we need no extra time to wash them. The root will not stain since the extra soil is properly removed.

Disadvantages: The roots may rot in the storage early due to moisture. We need more time to air- dry the crop before putting them in storage.

2) Not Washing

Advantages: The carrots would store for a longer time. There would be no time waste in air drying. If we keep carrots unwashed, the good bacteria stay. They can compete with harmful microorganisms and prevent deterioration.

Disadvantages: Roots may become stained due to extra soil. Before using or sending the carrots to the market for sale, we need to wash them every time thoroughly.

LEAVING CARROTS IN GROUND IN WINTER

If we intend to keep the carrots in the ground during winter, we should keep the following things in mind.

  • If the ground temperatures are moderate, harvest the crop as soon as the signs are visible and store them well. Otherwise, there may be a crop loss.
  • In cool areas, you can keep the crop under the ground before the first hard frost. It may damage the part of the crop above the surface.

 

  • Light Frost occurs in areas having temperatures up to 34 °F/- 1.1 °C. On the other hand, a hard freeze happens when temperatures go down 28 °F/- 2.2 °C.

 

  • The crop can continue to get better in taste without growing much, in the cold atmosphere in the ground. 

 

  • There is no additional protection required in case of cooler growing zones during the frost.

 

  • Cover the soil bed with extra mulch or leaves before the first hard frost in areas having severe winter.

 

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR STORAGE

Remember not to store carrots near apples or pears. They give out ethylene gas.

The harvest may become bitter due to the gas produced by these fruits.

For even longer storage, we can freeze them. Making pickles from carrots is also a good way to preserve them for a longer time. We can also keep the carrots canned. Blanching is also a good technique to increase the shelf life of carrots.

 

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