Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


Flowers &
Indoor Plants

Fruits & Nuts



Special Topics



Cornell University

Daucus carota
(dow-cuss care-o-tah)

Click on thumbnails for larger image.

What about it?

Carrots are members of the parsley family. They are related to celery, dill, celeriac, parsnip, and Queen Ann's Lace. You can see a vague similarity in the leaves of all these plants. Only recently have carrots been orange. They previously were white, like the root of the wild carrot Queen Ann's Lace, but are now bred for color.

What is it used for?

The edible part of the carrot is the long, orange taproot This can grow up to 10 inches. Carrots contain vitamin A which is good for sight.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?                                          

Heavy clay soil or rocky soils are not the best conditions for growing carrots. It is difficult to grow straight and long in sites like these. However, carrots are pretty tolerant. If clay soils are the best you can do be selective when you pick one of the many carrot varieties available. "Golden Nugget" is shaped more like a beet and won't be disturbed by the clay and rocks; "Royal Chantenay" have strong tops and are less likely to break off when harvesting. Some people like to plant carrot rows, but raised beds with loose soil give excellent results.

Carrots give the best flavor if grown in a cool season. They need a good water supply and plenty of sunshine. Carrots, like beets, need to be thinned. Each will need three inches of growing space.

What are its primary problems?

Carrots are typically tolerant of most pests or diseases. Wireworms and Alternaria leaf blight may appear, and leafhoppers may transmit aster yellow disease that will turn the tops a red or yellow color.

How do we propagate it?

Carrots are grown from seed. It is important to stagger seeding times so that your carrots don't all harvest at once. Carrots take 50-80 days until harvest time. You can plant them along with radish seeds, which are quick to germinate; by the time your radish crop is gone, your carrots will be coming along.

How do we harvest and store it?

Carrots are ready to be picked when they are 1/2 an inch in diameter. However, tender baby carrots are harvested very early. Drench the carrot bed with water to loosen the soil and pull the carrots by their tops. Twist and tug gently. Frost won't hurt them but be sure to get them out before the ground freezes.

Carrots will store for a long time if put in a plastic bag and kept cool.

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Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.