All About Carrots

Got some time to get outside and finally get all of the carrots in the carrot bed taken out.

This year, I grew two different varieties side-by-side for comparison testing.  The first variety was the Sugarsnax hybrid carrot.  The Sugarsnax hybrid carrot was said to be sweeter and have more vitamins in it than other standard carrots.  The second variety was Scarlet Nantes carrots – which is a standard, open-pollinated variety.

The Sugarsnax carrot seed is about twice as large as the Scarlet Nantes seed – as I found it pretty difficult to only drop one Scarlet Nantes carrot seed into each “hole” when I was sowing them.

The downfall of the Sugarsnax variety is the cost.  I chose to do a comparison using Scarlet Nantes because Fedco Seeds said that in 2010, it was the most popular selling carrot seed – with over 5,000 packets ordered totalling 200 pounds of seed sold.  The Scarlet Nantes seed – when I ordered it in early 2011 – was only 80 cents for a 1/8 ounce (approximately 3.5 grams) package of it – which was much more than I needed to plant.

The Sugarsnax carrot – remember is about twice as large – so you get even less seed.  A 1 gram – yes – a 1 gram – packet of Sugarsnax was $1.40.  Not only was the cost almost twice as much, you are getting approximately seven times LESS seed (1 gram versus 3.5 gram – but the seed is twice as large).

OK – so am I going to be that picky?  Well, we’ll see after the tests.  80 cents versus $1.40 for a packet of seed is cheap – considering you go to the store and buy a pound of carrots for $1.50 or so.

Alright – so I started digging up the Sugarsnax carrots first – and here are some nice pictures of them.

Sugarsnax Carrots

So you see a nice big pile of Sugarsnax carrots above with long carrots and green foliage.  Very healthy carrots.  You can see that I’ve cleared out exactly half of the carrot bed (there is a white PVC pipe that was used to separate the two varities so I knew where to stop).

The Sugarsnax carrots definitely are good-looking carrots with 6+ inch roots that taper to an end.  For the most part, they pulled out cleanly and did not have any knubs or other inconsistencies – except the one below.

Sugarsnax Carrots

Wow – I got two Sugarsnax carrots with one seed!  First time that has happened and both sides of the carrot are in great shape.

OK – moving on to the Scarlet Nantes carrots.

Scarlet Nantes Carrots

Hmm – the carrots are not as orange (meaning they don’t have as much beta caroteine as the Sugarsnax variety) and they definitely – on average – are shorter.  The Scarlet Nantes carrots also had some knubs and inconsistencies in them – but still not too bad.

Now, let’s look at the piles “side by side”.  The Sugarsnax pile is on the bottom and the Scarlet Nantes on the top.

Scarlet Nantes Carrots

Not fully a fair comparison since the Scarlet Nantes are further back in the picture – but they are shorter and the foliage wasn’t as thick.

After getting them all cut up, they looked pretty filthy.

Sugarsnax:

Sugarsnax Carrots

Scarlet Nantes:

Scarlet Nantes Carrots

Both Sugarsnax and Scarlet Nantes are said to have a ready-to-harvest time period of 68 days – so just a little over two months after planting they should be ready.  I found these numbers highly off – and for the 2009 and 2010 growing season, they were planted in mid-April and harvested in early August – with approximately 105 – 115 days before harvest.  This year – we had horrendous heat and almost no rain during the July and August months – that the foliage looked very bad and the carrots were not developing.  Therefore, this year they were planted around April 14th and were just harvested today – September 25th – for a total of approximately 163 days of growing.  I was very afraid the carrots would be unedible and “woody” as I’ve read others say about carrots that were not dug up in a proper time, but they turned out just fine!

And now, for the weigh in data.

There were a total of 122 Sugarsnax carrots harvested (a total of 280 were planted and approximately 152 that germinated)

  • Germination (152) to number planted (280):  54% germination rate
  • Number harvested (122) to number planted (280):  44% success rate
  • Number harvested (122) to number germinated (152):  80% harvest rate

There were a total of 109 Scarlet Nantes carrots harvested (a total of 260 were planted and approximately 150 that germinated)

  • Germination (150) to number planted (260):  58% germation rate
  • Number harvested (109) to number planted (260):  42% success rate
  • Number harvested (109) to number germinated (150):  73% harvest rate

I like numbers and comparing things that way, can’t you tell?  So the above shows the germination rate of the Scarlet Nantes was a bit higher (but those numbers are highly assisted by the fact that I dropped two and three seeds into at least half of the “holes” they were planted in).  But, the success and harvest rate of the Sugarsnax is superior than Scarlet Nantes

Weight

How about weight comparisons now.  The numbers are of just the usable portion of the carrots – so they were taken after the foliage was cut off:

  • 122 Sugarsnax yielded 9 pounds, 11 3/8 ounces (approximately 1.27 ounces per carrot)
  • 109 Scarlet Nantes yielded 7 pounds, 9 1/8 ounces (approximately 1.11 ounces per carrot)

Amazingly enough, I’m quite surprised that the ounces per carrot are that close.  I expected the Scarlet Nantes to be under an ounce each based upon the size/length of them.

Taste

I washed one of each carrot variety and then used the carrot peeler to remove the outer “skin” of the carrot.  My wife then tried them and I told her “A” and “B”.  The first time around, Scarlet Nantes was “A” and Sugarsnax was “B”. Upon first taste, she said that she liked A – Scarlet Nantes – better.  Then after trying a couple more nibbles, she decided that “A” definitely tasted more like a traditional carrot – but “B” was sweeter.

I then went back to get a few more pieces and said Sugarsnax was “B” and Scarlet Nantes was “A”.  She immediately knew that I switched them up because of the sweetness of the Sugarsnax.

I also then tested them and prefer the Sugarsnax over Scarlet Nantes – specifically because of the sweetness (hey, I have a sweet tooth!).  I thought that Scarlet Nantes had just a hint of a bitter flavor because it is certainly missing the sweetness.

Both carrots had the same texture and both were quite crunchy – so no differences to indicate there.

Appearance

As previously noted, the Sugarsnax carrots have long slender roots that taper to a nice point.  They had very little inconsistencies – except at the end where they reached the bottom of my growing container and started to curve.  The Scarlet Nantes carrots did have more inconsistencies and “warts” growing on the side than the Sugarsnax.  The Scarlet Nantes also were not as long (in general) as the Sugarsnax.

Sugarsnax have more of an orange tint – meaning it has more vitamins.  Here you can see a color comparison after the carrot was washed and peeled:

Carrot Color Comparison

The Sugarsnax is on the left and the Scarlet Nantes on the right.  You can see a difference in the orange hue of each.

Well, that is all about carrots.  Our verdict is – continue growing the Sugarsnax carrots.  Yes, the cost – in general – is about 7 times as expensive as Scarlet Nantes – but by the time we can only plant less than one packet (1 gram) of Sugarsnax yearly for $1.40, it is worth the cost.  If you consider a pound of carrots at the store at an average cost of $1.50 each, it would cost us $25.50 to purchase 18 pounds of carrots (production this year out of the garden) versus buying a packet of Sugarsnax carrot seed for $1.40.

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