Carrot farming

Secure your market
Unless you are practicing gardening farming otherwise known as subsistence farming in Africa; you should begin any of your horticulture farming with this question: where do I sell? A lay man’s answer would surely be “the market of cause”! But probing further, you would realize that not all veggies markets trade in carrot. Once you are able to answer this first question; then you also would be able to have an idea of average price per what quantity and even at what time of the year.

Carrot farming is a very profitable venture in that it requires minimal investment in inputs except for the seeds, to get result. In other word, carrot is one of the few veggies with seemingly little or no pest/disease problem. You do not necessarily need even fertilizer (either synthetic nor manure) once your soil is rich in organic matter. That said, carrot; if well sowed can self-control weeds which means less spending on weed control. 
You may also read: Sowing Guide for Tomato

Understand your soil
Not all soil is good for carrot. Carrot is a root veggie and as such would require extremely loosed soil to perform well. The best soil type is a deep-well drained sandy loamy soil with good amount of organic matter having pH ranges from 5.5 to 6.5. Once you have been able to identify this soil type, work on the soil by ensuring that it is well loosened to at least 20 cm deep and add more organic matter if need be. Some examples of organic matter sources are compost, dried plant biomass e.g. leaves, remains of harvested crops etc. In addition, make sure the soil is stone free or any other impediment free which may affect the growing carrot and cause it to fork. 

Choose your variety
Even with best agronomic practices, you need to choose your variety rightly. At the surface, there are dry season variety as well as wet season while some few are all season. From my personal experiences; the Nantes types are predominantly dry season varieties which show high tolerant to heat and bolting. 
On the other hands, the Kuroda types are mostly wet season varieties which perform best under cool weather mostly common with mid and high land growing condition. 
There are some other types like the Danvers and Thumberline which are characteristically tolerant of heavy soil. That said; look for other farmers cultivating carrot in your locality, learn from them the variety they cultivate and build on their experiences if need be. Most varieties nevertheless spend between 3 to 4 months to maturity from planting. 

Never transplant carrot
Rule number 1 in carrot cultivation is; never transplant carrot. Carrot plant is very sensitive to root disturbance even at tender age. Once the roots are disturbed, the plant mostly ends up being only vegetative without forming any root (carrot). Sow carrot directly at a very shallow depth at predetermined spacing of 8 to 10 cm apart in-row and about 15cm between rows. Due to its tiny seeds, you may sow as many as 3 to 5 seeds per hole. It takes carrot about 2 weeks to germination; a condition which predominantly depends on availability of consistent moisture after sowing. After 3 weeks of germination, you then thin to one stand per hole. Please note that thinning of carrot comes with a bit of a technique. Never uproot the unwanted stands during thinning because it would disturb the roots of the other ones and would eventually affect their root formation. Use a sharp garden scissor to snip off the ones you intend thinning at the stem slight above the soil. By doing that, you don’t disturb the other ones left. 

Understand necessary GAPs
After sowing carrot seeds, please mulch the soil with dried grass to provide consistent moisture which would facilitate quick and even germination. If planted in bags, ensure that the bags are a bit spaced to reduce competition for light. Ensures that you keep the plant free of weeds, you can plant carrot in rows of five then leave a walk way of 50cm and start another rows of five follow by another walk way. Using this method allows you to attend to the carrots during weeding exercise. More so, it enables the carrot to self-control weeds once fully grown. The walkway can be mulched with straw, sawdust, dried grasses or can be repeatedly sprayed with herbicide in a conventional farm. 
Since carrot is a direct seeded crop, during the dry season, you may end up losing many of your seedlings to intense heat. It is therefore important that you provide certain degree of shade after germination or provide a consistent moist soil to reduce the effect of intense heat from the sun.
For dry season cultivation, the best form of irrigation is aerial wetting. This can be achieved using sprinkler and spray-tube. Aside, do not use excessive fertilizer or manure to avoid forking of carrot root and predominant vegetative growth with no carrot. The best approach is to avoid the use of fertilizer but provide rich soil in organic matter. 

Manage pest/diseases
Carrots hardly have any disease or pest problem but that does not necessarily means you should close your eyes to their wellbeing. While at tender age immediately after germination, carrot seedlings are susceptible to cut worms, caterpillar and foraging rodent attack. This is however not a problem peculiar to all farms. If you notice any form of attack, you may use row cover to prevent access to the carrot or on a conventional farm, use insecticide with fumigant property like profenofos, chlorpyrifos etc.    

Local market carrot bag
Understand packaging sentiment 
Now that you have successfully harvested your carrot, you need to answer the question of where is your target market. If your target market is a formal institution, you obviously would sell by weight but if it is a conventional un-regulated market, then, it would be by volume. In this later market, packaging materials varies by size but the most commonly used one is 50kg capacity bag slightly extended at the tip. Always ensure you identify the packaging method used by local market and follow suit to avoid sentiment which often leads to cheating. 

Understand the market trend
If you are dealing with formal market where price per unit quantity is fixed; you would not need to bother about price fluctuation but if your target market is local market where price fluctuates base on the principle of demand and supply; then you may need to understand the market trend of carrot and target such time of the year when supply dips. In other word, producing out of season; this, no doubt helps you in maximizing profit. The terminology use for this market probing is called market prospection. 

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Carrot farming
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