10 ways to avoid carrot root fly

Home-grown carrots can’t be beaten for flavour.

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Pulled fresh from the soil, they fill the air with scent and provide that satisfying ‘crunch’ so often lacking in supermarket crops. Carrots are also rich in nutrients, containing high levels of vitamin A, beta-carotene and antioxidants.

Unfortunately, the rich scent of carrots attracts the attention of a pest called carrot root fly. Female flies lay their eggs at soil level near the shoulder of the carrot, and the larvae then eat into the roots. Early sowings are most vulnerable to attack, so delaying sowing of maincrop varieties until later in June will help protect them from root fly.

For an early crop, you’ll need to take other measures to prevent carrots being filled with holes and maggots. Discover how to grow carrots in our carrots grow guide.

Follow our guide to deterring carrot root fly, below.

The rich scent of carrots attracts the attention of a pest called carrot root fly.
1

Choose resistant varieties

Choose varieties that have been bred for their resistance to carrot root fly, such as ‘Flyaway’, ‘Ibiza’, ‘Maestro’, ‘Parano’, ‘Resistafly’ and ‘Sytan’.

Freshly harvested carrots 2

Avoid thinning out

Sow seed thinly to avoid having to thin out congested seedlings later on, because this releases a smell which attracts the pest.

Sowing carrot seeds 3

Cover with fleece

Cover vegetable beds with fleece, secured at the edges, after sowing carrots to prevent low-flying female flies reaching your crop.

Covering young carrot crops with fleece 4

Make fly barriers

Grow carrots in narrow beds surrounded with 60cm-high barriers of polythene, or fine-meshed netting – this is another good way to stop the female flies finding your crop.

Wrapping a fly-barrier around carrot plants in a tub 5

Grow with alliums

Grow carrots alongside strong-smelling companion plants such as alliums, including chives and garlic.

Growing carrots with alliums 6

Mix with other crops

Sow carrots among your vegetable crops rather than in large areas together, which makes it easier for pests to locate them.

Carrots growing beside rocket 7

Sow later

Sow carrots late in the season – sowings made from June onwards usually avoid the first generation of pests, although further generations of flies can attack from July to September.

Sowing carrot seeds 8

Rotate your crops

Follow good crop rotation, growing carrots on a different site each year to avoid overwintering pupae in the soil hatching in the middle of your carrot crop.

Freshly harvested spring onions 9

Avoid parsnips and celery

Avoid growing related plants like parsnips and celery near carrots, as they also attract the pest.

Advertisement Harvesting parsnips 10

Use controls

Use a biological control, such as carrot fly nematodes, or a sticky trap.

Applying a treatment

Caring for your carrots

Carrots don’t require a great deal of care. Try to keep the soil around them weed free, although once the carrots start to grow strongly their foliage will shade out most weeds. Water sparingly.

Chemical Control of Carrot Fly (Psila rosae (F.)) on Parsnip

During the past few years the recommended treatment for the control of carrot fly larvae on parsnip roots has been phorate granules applied ‘bow‐wave’ at drilling at 31b active ingredient/acre (3·36 kg/ha), followed by two foliar sprays of chlorfenvinphos each at 2 lb a.i./acre (2·24 kg/ha). This has been the standard recommendation for the control of carrot fly on carrots grown on peat soils. In a trial in 1972 this treatment gave useful control of a heavy carrot fly infestation on parsnips on a peat soil in eastern England. Protection lasted for approximately 30 weeks, after which the amount of damage increased sharply. Of the granular insecticides tested in the same trial as alternatives to phorate at drillng, chlorfenvinphos was reasonably eifective, but neither disulfoton nor diazinon gave adequate control.

Two sprays of chlorfenvinphos applied later in the season to previously untreated parsnips were ineffective.

Parsnips in untreated plots were heavily attacked by both first and second generation larvae; 37–40 per cent of the untreated plants were actually killed by the first generation larvae.

Carrot root fly

Carrot root fly is probably the most serious pest of carrot crops. Although affected roots can still be eaten, it does reduce the amount of usable root and it can take ages in the kitchen cutting out the affected parts.

Description

Carrot root fly adults are small and you’d be hard-pressed to recognise them or see them flying around. They lay their eggs at the base of the developing carrot plant.

The larvae bury into the roots of carrots, parsnips, celery and celeriac causing disfiguring black ‘mines’. This then leads to the roots rotting.

Symptoms

The foliage usually turns yellow, orange or red in colour and may wilt. The roots are tunnelled by maggots.

Treatment and control

No chemical treatment is available, but the following cultural advice is helpful.

  • Sow seed sparsely and do not thin seedlings – the smell of the foliage attracts the female fly.
  • After sowing seeds, cover the crop with very fine mesh or, better still, horticultural fleece to deny the female fly access to lay her eggs.
  • Some varieties, such as Fly Away, Maestro, Resistafly and Sytan, are said to be more resistant than standard varieties.

Need help with what to do in your garden?

Q What is carrot fly?
A Carrot fly (Psila rosae) is a common pest of carrot-family crops all over Britain. Carrots are worst hit, but celery, celeriac, parsnips, parsley and some other carrot-family herbs are all attacked by the larvae, which burrow into the roots. The roots can be destroyed, killing the whole plant. Affected roots are hard to store, as the wounds left by the grubs let in diseases such as bacterial soft rots and parsnip cankers.

Caption: Barriers of insect-proof mesh can help prevent carrot-fly attack without chemicals

Q When is carrot fly active?
A There are two attacks a year. Where last year’s crops were infested, the flies overwinter as pupae. The pupae are tiny, yellowish cylinders with dark ends, and their small size and colour make them hard to spot.

The first fly generation emerges from May. They lay eggs near susceptible plants, which hatch into white maggots. These tunnel into the roots and feed there in mid-summer. They in turn pupate and hatch into the second generation. The second generation then lays their eggs. The larvae tunnel into the roots in the autumn, and sometimes continue to feed all winter. They will all have pupated by late spring, and will be ready to hatch.

Q How do I recognise the adult carrot fly?
A The adult carrot fly is black, glossy and 5mm long, with a yellow head. It’s tricky to distinguish from other flies, but is usually only seen in and around carrot-family crops.

Q What do plants affected by carrot fly look like?
A Carrot plants look stunted and ‘rusty’. The leaves are small and develop a reddish tinge, before turning yellow and dying.

In allotments and gardens the plants often die. The carrot fly thrives in these habitats as it likes sheltering in trees, shrubs and hedges. Also allotments tend to be full of carrot-family crops, grown closely together year after year. When you pull the roots up, blackened surface tunnels, often containing maggots, can be found all over them.

Parsnips are similarly mined by the larvae, especially the ‘shoulders’ of the root. Young seedlings can be attacked in the leaf stems, as well as the root. This usually kills the seedlings. Celery stems are mined particularly where the stems grow from a crown at soil level. Larvae also tunnel into celeriac roots. Parsley is affected by the larvae killing the thin tap root. If plants die, look for mines with larvae in the crown of the plant.

Q Is there anything I could confuse carrot fly with?
A Distorted and red-tinged carrot foliage can also be a symptom of motley dwarf virus, but the roots are undamaged. It is spread by aphids (greenfly).

Q What early warning signs of carrot fly should I look out for?
A Sadly, the first sign of carrot fly you will see is when the plant dies or you pull up an infested, damaged root. Commercial growers use a trap to detect the insects, so they can time their sprays for maximum effectiveness, but these are not available to amateurs. Since the pest causes damage every year, it is worth taking preventative action before you see any sign of attack.

Q Can plants affected by carrot fly be saved?
A Once the larvae are inside the roots, nothing can control them. Dig up the affected roots to prevent the larvae pupating. Damaged roots can be eaten, but will tend to rot in storage.

Q Can I re-sow in sites affected by carrot fly?
A Re-sowing where there are still pupae from a previous crop guarantees further severe problems. However, where an early crop has to be scrapped before the larvae have pupated, it may be safe.

Q Can carrot fly be avoided?
A Sowing thinly and removing any thinnings immediately reduces the amount of infestation. Very early sowing in frames, cloches or under fleece in November or February will let the carrots reach a good size by the time the carrot fly is on the wing. These early sowings usually avoid serious damage.

Alternatively, sowing later, after the first generation is over, can also avoid damage. If ‘Bangor’ is sown in June, it will grow fast enough to be usable by autumn. The second generation of flies can still cause damage, so early harvesting or covering with fleece from September onwards is advisable.

Caption: Sowing carrots thinly helps as carrot flies are attracted by the smell when you thin seedlings

Q What preventative measures can I take to avoid carrot fly?
A Barriers of insect-proof mesh can exclude the adult carrot flies, if the edges are buried at least 5cm deep. The material can either be laid over the plants or supported on wire or plastic hoops. Fleece does the same job, but it can get very hot under fleece, so insect-proof mesh is a safer option than fleece for summer coverings.

Put the cover on after the crop has been sown and leave it there until at least the end of June. For total protection leave it over the plants for the entire crop life. Parsnips, celery and celeriac seem to be less affected by the second carrot-fly generation, so it may be safer to leave these (and not carrots) unprotected.

Putting up a ‘fence’ 75cm high of polythene, fleece or insect-proof mesh around the plot planted with carrots can also exclude carrot fly. This is because they are weak fliers. Although they can make it over the barrier, they cannot land on to a crop within about 1.8m. Make ‘fenced’ enclosures less than this distance wide or long. Barriers like this work best in open sites, as carrot flies descending from hedges or trees can glide in over the barriers.

Caption: Growing carrots under insect-proof mesh will keep out carrot fly

Q Will crop rotation help prevent carrot fly?
A You should always aim to leave a break of at least three years between carrot-family crops in the same piece of ground, as there are soil-borne diseases such as black rot and sclerotinia that can be controlled by crop rotation. However, although carrot fly are weak fliers, they seem able to detect and fly to susceptible crops from several miles away, so rotation may not help control them.

Q Is companion planting effective against carrot fly?
A Interplanting onions and carrots – six rows of onions to one of carrots is sometimes recommended – is said to confuse the carrot fly by masking the scent of carrots with the scent of onions. However, the evidence isn’t conclusive. Some herbs such as rosemary are said to have the same effect.

Q How good are varieties resistant to carrot fly?
A There’s a lot of variation in carrot-fly resistance from one variety to another. In Which? Gardening magazine trials, ‘Fly Away’ was outstanding and is quite sweet and was good eaten raw, though it’s expensive. ‘Resistafly’ is also resistant and is best eaten raw when it’s sweet and tender. It loses some flavour when it’s cooked. ‘Parano’ and ‘Sytan’ have above-average resistance. However, their resistance may need to be supplemented by barriers.
Q Are there any effective chemicals for carrot fly?
A There are no insecticides available to gardeners to control this pest.

Q What can I do with roots affected by carrot fly?
A If the roots are big enough, lift them as quickly as possible, cutting out any damaged areas.

Q How can I reduce risk to next year’s crop?
A Destroy or bin infected roots before the spring to reduce the number of carrot flies next year. Do not leave them in the ground. Digging over the ground in winter rather than in spring may increase natural wastage of pupae through the effects of weather and natural enemies.

Learn more about how to grow carrots.

Carrot Root Fly

Identification

The adult flies are 8 mm in length and are a shiny black colour with a reddish head and light orangey coloured legs. The larvae are cream coloured, slender and up to 1 cm in length.

The larvae emerging from newly laid eggs feed on the root hairs, rootlets and tap roots of the host plant. Early symptoms are wilting and a reddish/yellow discolouration of the outer leaves. Early attacks can result in plant loss but the more common outcome is that surviving plants are distinctly stunted. As the plant roots develop and enlarge the larvae mine into the roots leaving unsightly characteristic reddish/brown tunnels below the skin surface.

Life-cycle

First generation adult flies are often on the wing when cow parsley is in full flower at the end of April. They migrate into crops from nearby sheltered areas such as hedgerows. The adults are very weak fliers and rarely rise above a height of 50 cm. Eggs are laid into soil crevices around the base of host plants. Depending on temperature the larvae usually hatch in about one week and feed on the plant roots. Further damage can be caused by the larvae moving from plant to plant. After completing three growth stages (moults) the larvae pupate in the soil. The transition from egg to adult can be completed in 3 months. Carrot flies can survive the winter in a variety of different ways. The adults can survive by sheltering in warm protected environments, the pupae can overwinter in the soil or the larvae can survive in the roots of host plants, especially in crops which have been covered with straw for protection from cold weather. There are usually two generations per year but a third generation is possible especially if temperatures remain high into the autumn. The first generation arises in late April/early May and the second is on the wing in late July. It is the first two generations which are responsible for economic crop damage.

Importance

Crops growing in exposed sites and fields with no adjacent sheltered habitats will be less at risk. Crop establishment can be adversely affected but where pest pressure is severe crops can be rendered unmarketable. Carrot root fly larvae can also invade the roots of parsnips, parsley, celery and other herbaceous plants.

Threshold

Sticky traps located in crops can give an indication of fly emergence which assists with the timing of insecticide sprays. This information can also be valuable for making agronomic decisions on sowing dates and harvesting. Tefluthrin seed treatment can give early protection and repeat applications of pyrethroids can control adults before eggs are laid. These insecticide sprays will not control larvae feeding below ground. Sprays should be applied in the late afternoon or early evening when the adults are most active. Complete protection can be achieved by covering the carrot crop with polythene insect netting which prevents the adults from laying eggs in the rows. This is particularly useful in the organic and amateur market. In the amateur market some progress has also been made with plant breeding. Partial resistance has been successfully bred into some newly released varieties such as ‘Flyaway’.

When I studied ‘horticulture’ at college, we looked at various pests and diseases and one thing I learnt was if you ‘know your enemy’, then it is easier to avoid it altogether or make sure it doesn’t do too much damage.

Last year I looked at the life cycle and ways to avoid the allium leaf miner, slugs and codling moths. Once you know the life cycle of a pest, it is easier to understand how you can avoid it.

Today I thought it would be fun to look at a problem that we all encounter when we grow carrots, the dreaded Carrot Root Fly.

The symptoms:

Unfortunately I haven’t got a photograph to show you, but there is a really good photograph here.

When you are growing carrots, the first symptom of carrot root fly that you may see, is the foliage on older plants turning a red colour and having a stunted growth– but not always. The first sign, unfortunately, can be when you lift the carrot out of the ground and you see brown, rusty tunnels just below the skin. If you cut into the carrots, you may find the creamy, yellow maggot inside that causes the damage. It is approximately 9mm long.

Carrots that are left in the ground a long time are susceptible to more damage, as the maggot will continue feeding over winter and move from carrot to carrot. The carrots can also start to rot where the damage has occurred.

The Life Cycle Of A Carrot Root Fly:

Usually there are two generations of carrot fly each year, but in some areas there may be three. In April and May the first generation of adult females will lay their eggs in cracks in the soil near to members of the ‘Umbelliferae’ family, which includes carrot, celery, dill, fennel, parsley, parsnip and celeriac.

The eggs will hatch after approximately one week and the larvae will start to feed on the carrot roots. It takes approximately three months for the larvae to develop into mature adults.

So in July or August, the adult will mate and then lay their eggs and the life cycle will begin again. Some of the larvae will emerge as adults in autumn, but some will overwinter in the carrot roots.

Parsley

How to avoid the Carrot Root Fly:

The carrot fly, flies low to the ground. I have read many times that if you erect a barrier surrounding your carrots, approximately 60cm high and no more than one meter wide, the female won’t be able to fly in. Unfortunately, I have learnt the hard way and I had still had a problem with carrot fly when I did this. I can only assume that the wind blows the female fly over the barrier.

Below are some easy ways to avoid the pest:

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  • The easiest way I have found to avoid carrot root fly is to completely cover your crop with environmesh to stop the female fly from laying her eggs.

  • Before the female carrot fly lays its eggs, it feeds on pollen and nectar. Her favourite plant to feed from is cow parsley. So when cow parsley starts to flower, you can safely assume that the first generation of the carrot root fly is around. With this in mind, make sure you cover your carrots before the cow parsley starts to flower.
  • The Carrot root fly is attracted by the smell of bruised roots. Sow your carrot seed very thinly, so you will not need to thin them.
  • Make sure you don’t grow carrots in the same ground as the year before, as the larvae may still be in the soil when you sow your new carrots.
  • Companion planting can help to stop the female smelling the host plants. Growing plants with strong smells around your carrots can help e.g. onions, garlic, basil and marigolds etc. From experience, I have found this is only partially effective and needs to be used with other methods of controls.

Calendula

  • You can use ‘nematodes’ to help with the problem, but personally I find them expensive to use.
  • When sowing, use cultivars that are less susceptible to carrot root fly e.g. ‘Fly Away’, or ‘Resistafly’ etc. These varieties aren’t completely resistant, but they can be used with other methods to avoid the pest.
  • Finally, choose the best time to sow your carrots to avoid the main egg laying period (see the life cycle). Late sown carrots (after mid-May) avoid the first generation of this pest, similarly carrots harvested before late August avoid the second generation, but again this is best used with other methods of controls, as weather conditions dictate when the flies will be active.

Celeriac

I hope you have found the information useful. I will put it all together with other subjects I have written about, in the link at the top of the top of my blog titled ‘Pests , Diseases, Weeds & Interesting Information’ .

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A Rock Cake Tray Bake

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If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I usually ‘batch bake’ at the weekend, ready for the week ahead.

Most weeks I bake bread and cakes and freeze them. This way, they stay fresh for the week ahead, ready for packed lunches etc.

I made my daughters favourite this weekend, which is a chocolate brownie tray bake, which is easy to make and freezes really well. You can find the recipe here. I also made a tray bake that I haven’t made for a while, a ‘Rock Cake Tray bake’, which is also really nice:

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Rock Cake Tray Bake Recipe:

450g self-raising flour

200g soft margarine

100g granulated sugar

200g sultanas

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

50g Demerara sugar

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Preheat your oven Gas mark 6 / 400F / 200C

Rub the flour and margarine together until it resembles bread crumbs.

Stir in the granulated sugar and sultanas.

Stir in the eggs and milk until it is all combined.

Press the mixture into a tin (approximately 23cm x 33cm) lined with greaseproof paper, using the back of a metal spoon.

Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top and lightly press it into the cake mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Cut into slices while it is still warm.

Enjoy!

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will back on Friday at approximately 4pm.

What are the health benefits of carrots?

Share on PinterestCarrots contain vitamin A, antioxidants, and other nutrients.

Carrots are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also a good source of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are nutrients present in plant-based foods. They help the body remove free radicals, unstable molecules that can cause cell damage if too many accumulate in the body.

Free radicals result from natural processes and environmental pressures. The body can eliminate many free radicals naturally, but dietary antioxidants can help, especially when the oxidant load is high.

Below are some ways in which carrots can support health.

Vision

Can carrots help you see in the dark? In a way, yes.

Carrots contain vitamin A, and a vitamin A deficiency may result in xerophthalmia, a progressive eye disease. Xerophthalmia can cause night blindness or difficulty seeing when levels of light are low.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, a lack of vitamin A is one of the main preventable causes of blindness in children.

So, in a way, carrots can help you see in the dark.

However, most people’s vision is unlikely to improve from eating carrots, unless they have a vitamin A deficiency.

Carrots also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, and the combination of the two may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a type of vision loss.

Learn about 10 foods that can help maintain eye health.

Cancer

Too many free radicals in the body may increase the risk of various types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The antioxidant effects of dietary carotenoids — yellow, orange, and red organic pigments present in carrots and other vegetables — may reduce this risk. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two examples of these carotenoids.

One medium-sized raw carrot, weighing 61 grams (g), contains 509 micrograms (mcg) RAE of vitamin A.

It also provides 5,050 mcg of beta carotene and 2,120 mcg of alpha carotene , two provitamin A antioxidants that the body can convert into more vitamin A, as needed.

According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, female adults need to consume at least 700 mcg RAE of vitamin A each day, while male adults need at least 900 mcg RAE.

Prostate cancer: A 2015 review of studies suggested a link between a diet rich in carotenoids and a lower risk of prostate cancer. However, confirming the association, then determining its cause, would require more research.

Leukemia: In 2011, researchers found evidence that nutrients in carrot juice extract could kill leukemia cells and slow or stop their progression.

Lung cancer: Also in 2011, researchers concluded that drinking carrot juice may help prevent the type of damage that leads to lung cancer in smokers.

Earlier, a 2008 meta-analysis indicated that participants with high intakes of various carotenoids had a 21% lower risk of lung cancer, after adjusting for smoking, than participants in control groups.

What is the link between cancer and diet? Find out here.

Digestive health

Consuming more carotenoid-rich foods may lower the risk of colon cancer, according to 2014 research that included data from 893 people.

The findings of a study published the following year suggest that people who consume a high-fiber diet have a lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who consume little fiber.

A medium carrot contains 1.7 g of fiber, or between 5% and 7.6% of a person’s daily needs, depending on their age and sex. Meanwhile, 1 cup of chopped carrots provides 3.58 g of fiber.

High-fiber foods can promote gut health, but which foods should we avoid?

Diabetes control

Carrots have a sweet flavor and contain natural sugars. What does this mean for people with diabetes?

Carbohydrates make up around 10% of a carrot, and nearly half of this is sugar. Another 30% of this carbohydrate content is fiber. A medium carrot provides 25 calories.

Overall, this makes a carrot a low-calorie, high-fiber food that is relatively low in sugar. For this reason, it scores low on the glycemic index (GI). This index can help people with diabetes understand which foods are likely to raise their blood sugar levels.

Boiled carrots have a GI score of around 39. This means that they are unlikely to trigger a blood sugar spike and are safe for people with diabetes to eat.

Meanwhile, authors of a 2018 review concluded that consuming a high-fiber diet may help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. High-fiber foods may also help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.

What is the 7-day diabetes diet plan? Find out here.

Blood pressure and cardiovascular health

The fiber and potassium in carrots may help manage blood pressure.

The American Heart Association (AHA) encourage people to add less salt, or sodium, to meals, while eating more foods that contain potassium, such as carrots. Potassium helps relax the blood vessels, reducing the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues.

One medium carrot provides around 4% of a person’s daily requirement of potassium.

Meanwhile, a 2017 review concluded that people with a high fiber intake are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people who eat little fiber. Eating plenty of fiber may also help reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol in the blood.

Which foods may help reduce blood pressure? Find out here.

Immune function and healing

Another antioxidant that carrots provide is vitamin C.

Vitamin C contributes to collagen production. Collagen is a key component of connective tissue and essential for wound healing and keeping the body healthy.

The vitamin is also present in immune cells, which help the body fight disease. A healthy immune system may prevent a range of diseases, including cancer, according to a 2017 study.

If a person is unwell, the immune system has to work harder, and this may compromise vitamin C levels.

Some experts believe that taking additional vitamin C may boost the immune system’s function when it is under stress. Consuming vitamin C may, for example, slightly reduce the severity and duration of a cold.

Learn about 15 foods that can boost your immune system.

Bone health

Carrots contain vitamin K and small amounts of calcium and phosphorus. All of these contribute to bone health and may help prevent osteoporosis.

A balanced diet can help keep the bones healthy. Are there other natural ways to do this? Find out here.

Carrot

Carrot: Daucus carota sp. sativus (Hoffm.), (2n = 18)

Carrot is a biennial, belonging to the family Apiaceae, and is an important vegetable for its fleshy edible, colorful roots. It varies in colour from white, yellow, orange, light purple, deep red to deep violet. It is widely grown in spring, summer, and fall in temperate countries and during the winter in tropical and subtropical regions.

Afghanistan is considered a center of origin, because the greatest diversity of wild types is found there. South-west Asia and eastern Mediterranean regions are considered to be secondary centers of diversity of wild type and domestication. Purple and yellow carrot variants were introduced into Europe, then to India, China, and Japan.

Carrot production for the fresh market increased from $355 million to $441 million in the year 1997. The market for processing carrots is considerably smaller than the fresh market, with a production value of $37.5 million in 1997. In the USA 99 000 acres of carrot is grown for fresh-market sales, of which 70 900 acres of carrot is grown in California. The total area for processing carrots in the USA is 23 800 acres.

Carrots may be grouped into two types: (1) temperate or European cultivars, which are biennial, orange in color and uniform in thickness with a small core; and (2) tropical or Asiatic cultivars, which are annual, red in color, more juicy, and have a bigger core and a heavier top. The most important bunching varieties of carrot in the USA are Imperator, Gold Spike, and Gold Pak, which have long slender roots with a good smooth exterior whereas the varieties Red Cored Chantenay, Royal Chantenay, and Autumn King are good colored and popular for processing. Nantes is a good home garden variety.

Some important and commonly grown varieties of carrot in India are Amsterdam, Barlikuner, Chantenay, Royal Chantenay, Delattya, Honey Sweet, Karotina, Pusa Kesser, Pusa Meghalli, Rubica, and Pusa Yamadagni.

Carrot is one of the most nutritious vegetables consumed both raw and processed. Gazraila is a sweet dish prepared by cooking shredded carrot in milk and sugar and is much liked in North India.

Carrots are low in calories and are an excellent source (ranging from 41 to 475 μg g−1 fresh weight) of β-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, which is good for eyesight. A serving size of 78 g carrot has only 35 cal and 2 g dietary fiber, along with 270% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin A, 10% of the RDA of vitamin C, and 2% of the RDA for calcium. Carrot roots are a rich source of carotenoids, which contains different types of carotene, i.e., β-carotene (45–80%), α-carotene (15– 40%), γ-carotene (2–10%) and others (3–6%). Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and vitamin C are also present in appreciable amounts in carrot roots.

The flavor of carrots is influenced by free sugars glucose, fructose, and sucrose, which contribute to sweetness; volatile mono and sesquiterpenoids, which contribute to harshness, 2-nonenal, which imparts a cooked flavor; isocoumarin and other phenolic compounds, which impart bitterness; 2-methyoxy-3 butypyrazine, which contributes to the carrot aroma; free amino acids, which contribute to the delicate flavor; and ionones, which impart a floral off-flavor. Carrot roots contain several times more sucrose than glucose or fructose.

Carrots are a versatile vegetable that can be served alone, raw or cooked, or, in combination with meats, baked, fried, sautéed, and pickled. A small portion of total production is used for making the fermented product kanji, an appetizing drink.

Carrots are processed into products such as canned carrots, dehydrated carrots, juice, beverages, candy, preserves, and halva. Carrot leaves are used to extract protein. Carrot tops and roots are fed to animals to increase milk yield and used in the preparation of poultry feed.

Carrots possess many medicinal properties and are used in ayurvedic medicine. Carrot is considered a popular remedy for jaundice. Its juice has diuretic and nitrogen-balancing properties, and thus has been found to be effective for the elimination of uric acid. β-carotene acts as a free radical-trapping agent and a singlet oxygen quencher in biological systems. β-carotene has been reported to reduce the risk of cancer of the lungs, cervix, easophagus, and stomach, and cataract formation. Carrot extract has antioxidant properties. The combination of carrot and orange juice was found to reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins in habitual cigarette smokers. Carrot seeds have been reported to possess antifertility activity in female albino rats.

Carrots are harvested when the roots are 2–2.5 cm in diameter. Fall carrots, if mulched in certain areas, can be left in the ground all winter and harvested as needed. After harvest, prompt cooling to 5 °C or below extends the storage life of carrot roots. Mature roots can be stored for 7–9 months at 0–1 °C temperature coupled with 90–100% relative humidity.

:: Culture Decanted ::

What is a real carrot?

Posted by Culture Decanted on June 7, 2014 in History, Marketing, semiotics |

What is a real carrot?

About a week ago, I was speaking to a mum and the topic of shopping in supermarkets came up. It was a wide-ranging conversation and the benefits and concerns she expressed about shopping were similar to what other mums have talked about. In summary, supermarkets are convenient, good value and make it easy to buy a wide variety of products. On the negative-side, she voiced fears over mass-produced and highly refined foods. With similar questions about what is on offer: Who knows what is in them? What do they take out? What do they put in? Like many caring mums, she’s trying to balance the time she had, the budget on hand and buying the most nutritious and healthy choices for her family. In practice, she shops a bit more sceptically by bad-avoidance rather than thinking through which choices are healthy.

This is where she raised a strong interest in organic food and used, as a primary example, those dreadfully genetically-modified coloured range of carrots that are aimed at children. ‘Why can’t they leave nature alone’? Exploring this a bit further, she was basing this decision-making on colour, shape and uniformity of these intruder carrots. This is a familiar and fascinating misconception about what is natural in the world of natural foods?

Raising the question was is the natural colour, shape and form of a carrot?

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.

Paul Cezanne

Carrots are tops

The etymology of the word goes back to the Indo-European for horn – ker– rather than a colour.

A cultivated plant of the parsley family with feathery leaves, which yields carrots. Daucus carota, family Umbelliferae: two subspecies and many varieties; wild forms lack the swollen root.

They are in the culinary record going back to the Egyptians and are found through Europe and the East. From the 10th Century A.D. they are believed to have moved through India, Middle East and Europe from Afghanistan. It is believed to have started as a weed called ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ , which is also called a wild carrot .

What is a collective of carrots: A rainbow is a better description than a bunch.

The agricultural domestication of carrots took a colourful path. In 900AD in the eastern-Mediterranean, the earliest carrots were purple and yellow; in 1300 the same colours were found in Europe and China; 1600 had yellow carrots in Japan, and in the 1700, a wider range from white to purple were found in the west. This variety can be found in England at this time in the historical record:

There is a variety of colour in the roots of the carrot, the gardeners have hence made what they call three principal kinds. These they call, I. The dark red carrot. 2. The orange carrot. And, 3. The white carrot. The first and last of these terms are somewhat improper, the first kind being only a very deep orange, and the other a very pale yellow. The first is the most esteemed. The white kind is more common in France and Italy than here; and is the sweetest and finest flavoured of them all. The farmer is to cultivate not that which is best, but what people think so; and therefore he is to chuse the deep red, commonly called the Sandwich carrot.

It is often believed that today’s almost omnipresent orange carrot gains its place of presence because of connection to the Orange-Nassau dynasty in Holland during the 1700’s, where four generations of the Princes of Orange used the Dutch East-and-West Company to develop the wealth and influence of their families. The brand-colour of orange extended far beyond the selective breeding of orange fruit and was found in the colours of everything: the castles and places were named after Orange. There has been suggestion that ‘patriotic growers turned a vegetable which was then purple into the colour of the national flag’ . However, this might be overstating things; yellow and orange carrots already existed, so carrots were not ‘turned’ into anything different, just a colour variety was grown in a politically partisan harvest. This likely enabled them to play with variants to heighten the colour. So the orange carrots were favoured politically for this family but there must be more to their popularity; because as the Dynasties influence waned, Orange carrots in Holland became less-popular. While this type of carrot-eugenics did contribute to political narrative of the time but all colours of Carrots are natural.

A weapon of war: the carrot

It took World War 2 to create the cultural-norm that carrots are orange. However, this context needs to be sown. In the peak of the war, most of the European nations were undergoing extreme food shortages – to an extent that is almost unimaginable to today’s supermarket voyeurs.

Growing your own food was a form of patriotic duty and governmental instruction. Having people grow their vegetables took a lot of pressure off the war effort and carrots are hardy weeds.

There are a couple of credible explanations for one of the great wartime-myths of Carrots: that they give you better eyesight. Medically, there is some truth to this belief, carrots are a great source of Vitamin A, which is important for good eyesight. It has been suggested that the war-propaganda prompted carrot consumption so that people felt more confident during enforced blackouts during bombing raids and electricity shortages, but more likely this was a narrative that followed a more specific propaganda message.

‘A WWII propaganda campaign popularized the myth that carrots help you see in the dark.

Tolarczyk is not confident about the exact origin of the faulty carrot theory, but believes that it was reinforced and popularized by the Ministry of Information, an offshoot of a subterfuge campaign to hide a technology critical to an Allied victory. During the 1940 Blitzkrieg, the Luftwaffe often struck under the cover of darkness. In order to make it more difficult for the German planes to hit targets, the British government issued citywide blackouts. The Royal Air Force were able to repel the German fighters in part because of the development of a new, secret radar technology. The on-board Airborne Interception Radar (AI), first used by the RAF in 1939, had the ability to pinpoint enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel. But to keep that under wraps, according to Stolarczyk’s research pulled from the files of the Imperial War Museum, the Mass Observation Archive, and the UK National Archives, the Ministry provided another reason for their success: carrots. In 1940, RAF night fighter ace, John Cunningham, nicknamed “Cat’s Eyes”, was the first to shoot down an enemy plane using AI. He’d later rack up an impressive total of 20 kills—19 of which were at night….the Ministry told newspapers that the reason for their success was because pilots like Cunningham ate an excess of carrots.

So rather than let the Germans know the English had on-plane radar to assist in bombing, everyone was sold the myth of the magical effect of carrots on the human eyes. If you read ‘The Second World War’ by Anthony Beevor, you realise how important this deception was. As much as we’re used to the pin-point satellite drops from bombers on CNN during the Gulf war, WW2 bombing was more miss-than-hit which is why they favoured carpet-bombing so much. It was so effective that Germans have the same belief about Carrots, even though it’s an English myth – since the Nazi’s interrogated the British pilots they shot down and got the public propaganda line.

However, medical research doesn’t back up these claims of carrots improving your night vision or eyesight: Various studies ‘… show that while taking vitamin A can reverse poor vision caused by a deficiency, it will not strengthen eyesight or slow decline in people who are healthy.’ This finding is supported by the Blue Mountain Study in Australia that shows that Vitamin A is important for general eye health but it does not repair or augment bad eye sight.

So we know that the combination of the desire for keen-eyesight when enemies were dropping bombs on you would have been motivating, it was also the war-effort to have people being more self-sufficient in food production across Europe that was a main driver in carrot consumption.

If this got people eating more carrots, the main driver of the success of the orange carrot can be found in the popularity of the Carrot Cake. Sugar was a food item that was quickly rationed as the war started. In both world-wars, carrots were used as a sweetener, as sugar was limited in supply. The Orange carrot is the sweetest variety that suited this purpose – leading to its widespread popularity.

It was only in 2002 that purple carrots went back into supermarkets in the UK . In many countries this is still probably limited to organic and specialty sections. Driving this is the increasing awareness of the benefits of phytochemicals – that are richer in darker coloured red and green vegetables. This plant-compound helps the body deal with free-radicals – which ultimately can lead to life threatening illnesses. So purple carrots, cauliflower and broccoli are appearing in greater numbers on our grocery store shelves.

A Super Carrot?

Scientists are working with the genetics of carrots to see what other benefits they can develop. Scientists in the US say they have created a genetically-engineered carrot that provides extra calcium; someone eating the new carrot absorbs 41% more calcium than if they ate the original kind. At the same time the organic seed banks – that store seeds for genetic variety – at the University of Warwick are capturing genetic representatives of as many cultivated and wild varieties of carrots from around the world, in order to guide crop researchers and breeders in developing varieties adapted to future growing conditions .

They are from the war but why so uniform?

There is one aspect of the modern carrot that still need to be discussed; their shapes. Since one of the critiques of these new colourful-carrots in supermarkets is that they are all different shapes and look unnatural. Perhaps the better question should be, ‘how are orange carrots so uniform in shape and size’?

One of the agricultural marketing success stories is the rise of the baby carrot. The current perception is that baby carrots are the young version of the plant. The truth is the baby carrots that we see in freezers and chillers are ‘baby style’ carrots. In 1986, a Californian carrot grower Mike Yurosek was tired of the carrots that didn’t match the exacting standards that make consumers think all carrots should be the same size and look, they had to be discarded. Using a bean-slicer he cut the carrots into two-inch pieces that became ‘the baby carrot’. This process was refined: “After the top and bottom are cut off, it is sliced into two-inch segments and then roughly peeled. The segments are given a final polish – a sort of carrot sanding – and then sorted by size and bagged”.

” But there’s a twist to this great beta-carotene success story: Baby carrots aren’t babies at all. They’re grown-up carrots cut into 2-inch sections, pumped through water-filled pipes into whirling cement-mixer-size peelers and whittled down to the niblets Americans know, love and scarf down by the bagful …I was shocked when I first discovered that,” says Jeanne Ambrose, a food and entertainment editor at Better Homes and Gardens. “I’d wondered how they got them all so perfectly matched to grow all the same shape and size.”

Not looking back, Grimmway Farms produces 85% of the carrots eaten in the USA. Using self-propelled harvesters three workers can pick 75 tons–roughly a million individual carrots–in one hour. It’s a nearly $400 million business and growing.

The success of the baby-carrot has informed our expectations of all carrots looking the same. Part of the success of the baby carrot has been its fit with feeding children at a time when healthier alternatives are a wider trend.

There is the stereotype of the veggie-hating kid

The natural sweetness of carrots seems to make them more kid-friendly. If we recall how they were used as sweeteners in WW2 – they were lollypops.

Carrot advertising’s success has been to aimed at children through the convention of partnering foods with kid-friendly avatars such as Bugs Bunny:

The baby-carrot farmers have used some innovative marketing to generate this positive pester-power with children. Scarrots are a way of speaking to Halloween, to the positioning of ‘”Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food”. Nickelodeon and Tom-and-Jerry for McDonalds both attempt to speak to parents through lowering the barriers with children through their popularity.

To be balanced, their advertising has also tried to speak to adults in new ways.

Looking at the three main challenges to the wild carrot, the mum I was speaking to: colour, shape and uniformity, the opposite is actually true. Real carrots can be orange but are much more likely to be yellow, white or purple from a geographic and historical perspective. Carrot shapes are kept uniform by the human-standards – where we have ironically taken the ‘horn’ out of what ‘carrot’ originally meant, as we now favour straight-shapes of uniform size. Furthermore, this uniformity has been industrialised – it is man-made perfection rather than being Mother Nature’s handiwork. It will be interesting to see how our supermarket shelves change as the trend for preferring wild heirloom varieties takes root further.

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Appendix

This Second World War history is a considerable investment of time, but if you want a detailed and comprehensive guide through the history of WW2 it’s an invaluable resource – Anthony Beevor has accomplished an amazing task at keeping a lively history through some complicated and often dark times.

I belatedly found the World Carrot Museum after writing this blog – it’s one of those amazing internet sites that demonstrates passion and erudition for a topic. Well worth a visit.

How to Protect Carrots from Carrot Fly

You might think it is too early to think about carrot fly. However, there is a lot you can do at the planting stage to ensure you get a healthy crop. So well worth reading this now before you sow.

If you have yet to experience that awful sinking feeling of lifting carrot after carrot riddled with dark crevices, tunnelled out by the dreaded carrot fly larvae, then consider yourself lucky. But for those of you that have, fear not! Haxnicks have been fighting various garden pests for over 20 years, and have picked up a few tricks along the way…

Image courtesy of www.morguefile.com

But first… some facts about carrot fly:

  • Carrot fly also affects other vegetables in the parsley family, such as Parsnip, Celery, Dill, Coriander, Fennel and Celeriac
  • They are attracted to the smell of bruised foliage
  • The larvae that damage the roots can continue to feed through the autumn into winter, moving between plants
  • The adult carrot fly is approximately 9mm long. It is a slender, metallic, greenish-black fly with yellow legs and head. Larvae are creamy white, tapering maggots

How can you tell if your carrots are infected? – Check for reddening of the foliage and stunted growth

So now we know a little bit about the pest itself, we can look at some of the ways which we can protect our crops from infestations:

  1. Make sure to avoid using previously infested ground. Carrot fly larvae are capable of surviving through the winter. So avoid re-sowing any vegetable from the Parsley family (see above)
  2. Avoid sowing during the main egg-laying periods, which are (for most parts of the UK): mid-April to the end of May & Mid-July to the end of August.
  3. Sow disease and pest resistant varieties such as Fly Away F1 and Resistafly F1, available from garden centres and online seed suppliers.
  4. Erect a fine-mesh barrier at the time of sowing – at least 70cm high. Check out our Micromesh Pest & Wind Barrier which will work for containers and open ground. Or a Micromesh Tunnel – with 0.6mm netting it will keep the Carrot Fly from getting to your precious crop.
  5. Sow thinly so as to avoid ‘thinning out’, releasing the smell of bruised foliage
  6. Thin out or harvest on a dry evening with no wind – or use scissors so that no bruising of foliage occurs
  7. Try companion planting – growing varieties of pungent Rosemary, Sage or Marigold as a deterrent/’smokescreen’
  8. Grow your carrots in a tall planters – for example the Haxnicks Oxford fabric planter or Carrot Patio Planters
  9. Lift main carrot crops by Winter, especially if any are infected – don’t leave them in the ground to serve as food for overwintering larvae.

Thinning out tip: Use scissors to avoid bruising the foliage (and releasing the carrot-fly attracting scent)

To find out more about carrot fly, and the other pests that may arrive in your garden check out Pippa Greenwood’s excellent RHS book for plant by plant advice on Pests and Diseases

Have you any experience of carrot fly damage? What do you think went wrong? Please let us know your thoughts using the comments section below.

Carrot Root Fly Killer Gel Nematodes

Carrot root fly larvae cause extensive damage to carrots. The larvae burrow into damage and disfigure carrots. Adult carrot root fly emerges from pupae in the soil from April and then lay fresh eggs that develop into more harmful carrot root fly larvae.

For control of Carrot root fly larvae apply Carrot Root Fly Killer, which contains microscopic nematodes that can be watered into soil and raised beds. The nematodes find and enter the carrot root fly larvae releasing a bacteria that kills the carrot root fly larvae. The nematodes then use the body of the larvae to reproduce in, releasing more nematodes into the surrounding area. Carrot Root Fly nematodes will stay active in the soil for about 3-4 weeks, so may need re-applying for any fresh infestations of carrot root fly.

Carrot Root Fly Killer nematodes are watered into the soil/ raised beds. Avoid applying on a sunny day, as nematodes are UV sensitive. Apply the nematodes to moist soil and keep it moist after application. This helps the nematodes to move in the soil to find the carrot root fly larvae. Carrot Root Fly Killer can be applied with a watering can or knapsack sprayer. Adult Carrot Root Flies can be monitored and caught on Carrot Fly sticky trap kits.

Carrot Root Fly Killer nematodes are supplied in two pack sizes:

– Carrot Root Fly Killer 50 million – treats an area up to 100 square metres
– Carrot Root Fly Killer 10 million – treats an area up to 20 square metres

Apply the nematodes as soon as possible after receipt or store in a fridge un-opened. * The Gel formulation has a longer shelf life in a fridge of up to 12 weeks.

Delivery Note; Same day dispatch Mon-Fri before 2pm

Protect Against Carrot Root Fly

Avoid Carrot Root Fly when thinning your Carrots they are attracted by the smell of the bruised foliage when you pull out the thinnings.

Do this job in the evening when there are less insects flying, they are drawn by the smell and lay their eggs in cracks in the soil close to the plants. When they hatch they burrow their way under the soil and feed on the roots.

These horrible little insects can be a real nuisance, but there are ways to outfox them! They are low flying so growing in Raised Beds and placing a barrier of Insect Netting or Fleece at least 60cm high around the bed should help keep them out, make sure you tuck it well down to the soil with no gaps for the fly to get in (or cover the complete bed).

A mulch of grass cuttings over the seedlings makes it harder for the fly to find a good spot to lay her eggs and plants with a strong smell of their own such as Sage, Rosemary, Coriander and Onions or Garlic sown close to the carrot row will also help deter them. Try growing a variety with good resistance to the pest such as Resistafly Planting carrots in the same location year after year will allow the fly to get a strong hold and multiply, so crop rotation is very important.

Carrot Root Fly also likes to snack on Parsnips, Parsley (and cow parsley!) and Celery so avoid growing these crops in areas which have previously grown carrots. Another solution is Nemasys Fruit and Veg Protection Biological Control it is a unique mix of different Nematode species to target a broad range of pests including Carrot Root Fly and is extremely effective especially when used as a regular programme.

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