With more than 50 varieties of carrots out there, choosing the right one to grow successfully in Hawaiʻi can be a daunting task.
The need for hands-on guidance – and the public’s interest for learning more – was apparent Aug. 5 as Extension’s Jensen Uyeda and Koon-Hui Wang of the Dept. of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences held a Field Day at the Poamoho Experiment Station.
More than 30 growers and community members turned out for the event, eager to understand what carrot varieties grow best. The outdoor workshop also covered management practices, such as fertility, nematodes, and irrigation in order to help growers overcome challenges related to growing carrots. Each participant was able to observe every carrot variety in the field, as well as harvest varieties they were interested in tasting.
“It was so enjoyable seeing all the participants with arms full of carrots that they themselves pulled from the field,” says Jensen. “Hopefully, this sparks more interest in growing carrots, and will help increase the success of carrot production in Hawaiʻi.”
The field day followed a successful trial by Extension to evaluate 20 carrot varieties (five red, one purple, and 14 orange) to determine their viability for production in the state. Based on this trial and evaluation, Extension was able to recommend to community members one purple, two red, and six orange varieties, based on weight, length of root, and resistance to nematodes.
“Carrots come in all shapes, sizes, and colors,” Jensen explains. “They are known for their high levels of alpha and beta carotene as well as vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin B6. Some varieties with colors other than orange may also have high levels of anthocyanin and lycopene.”
This information, he adds, “can help carrot growers make more informed decisions on which varieties to grow, based on the size and shape their buyers are looking for. It will also help minimize losses due to nematode damage, which will result in increased carrot supplies to our local markets.”
Jensen and other Extension agents plan to conduct additional variety trials to identify new and more productive varieties, as well as management practices, to help commercial producers stay in production or continue/expand their production.