Author Topic: Carrots going to seed in their first year  (Read 181 times)

Yaz

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Carrots going to seed in their first year
« on: 2020-07-14, 03:46:29 PM »
What are your thoughts on saving seeds from something that's normally a biannual, but is flowering in it's first year?

The first carrots I planted this spring have started to go to seed - at least 3 are about to flower. It really is the carrots, I didn't believe it, thought it must be a weed so ran my fingers from the flower to the base, and then uncovered and checked - yup, finger width bright orange carrot at the base.

I'm guessing it might be due to the water stress/drought and heat we've had this year, a sort of "reproduce or perish" situation. I also planted them early enough they got a touch of late frost after growing for a month or so.

My thoughts are
1) Might allow carrot breeding to be faster if they regularly produced flowers
2) Might encourage carrots to become woody in their first year
3) May not produce viable seeds.
4) Could produce a low-maintenance self seeded carrot patch.

Would you save them, or would you pull and toss them? I haven't seen any Queen Anne's lace nearby.


Ferdzy

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #1 on: 2020-07-15, 07:12:59 AM »
1) Faster breeding is not necessarily better breeding.
2) Yes, definitely. The minute they even think of bolting they turn to wood.
3) I'm sure the seeds would be very viable.
4) Low maintenance, self seeded = weed.

I think you would be basically breeding Queen Anne's Lace, which I don't see as progress, I'm afraid. In general I don't think encouraging biennials to become annuals is a good idea (although let's talk about cauliflower, because I don't see how else I will get any seeds)

Seriously, I think you are right about the late frost/then heat and drought triggering them to bloom. It might not actually show up as a tendency in better years. Still, my immediate impulse when dealing with first year bolting carrots is, pull 'em. The inevitable woodiness means I just don't see any upside here.

reed

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #2 on: 2020-07-16, 01:47:37 AM »
I have difficulty getting seed form about any biannual so I'm thinking turning them into annuals is  maybe a fantastic idea. Especially cauliflower and it's relatives. I've been doing my best to cross them all up with broccoli because it is an annual here. I'm fine with the result being unpredictable and unconventional.

Carrots is different I suppose. But still I'd love to see folks working to annualize them. I just don't have time and space to do much with it myself. I wonder, might it be possible to develop a line that could be planted about anytime and just harvest some before they start to flower and leave others to seed. Or harvest and replant the tops. Maybe select into something that flowers outside the timing range of Queen Ann's Lace.

So far my only success of getting carrot seed is by planting in late summer or fall. The resulting plants that survive winter flower well and generally earlier than our local QAL. Seems to be working, I dug them all up about a month ago and replanted the best looking and tasting roots. It's been terribly dry and they are stunted but with lots of watering I think I'm gonna get a good seed harvest.
« Last Edit: 2020-07-16, 01:53:58 AM by reed »

Lauren

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #3 on: 2020-07-16, 12:16:37 PM »
Maybe breed for late season blooming, after you normally harvest? Harvest your crop, put the best back in the ground for a fall seed harvest.

Richard Watson

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #4 on: 2020-07-21, 12:19:47 AM »
My breeding is based around having carrots growing as ong as possible so as to select out the bolting tenancy. Starting off sowing late winter/early spring, select ideal roots following winter for flowering come spring summer. Yaz - its poor quality seed that bolts in its frist year
Changeable year round climate, less so summertime, warming winters - just under 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial out wash from the Southern
alps.

Yaz

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #5 on: 2020-07-26, 10:38:58 AM »
Well to partially answer my own question - I have found one example where creating an annual from a biannual is helpful- artichokes, which are grown for their flowers and arent cold hardy here. But... carrots arent grown for their flowers.

I would buy the poor quality seed explanation - the beet seeds i bought from the same source are about 5% white beets. I like white beets, but since they were supposed to be an OP variety (Detroit Red), quality control may be a bit lacking. A few other things from the same source had spotty or even no germination.

So far I have just left them in the ground, but I plan on tossing them when I harvest that area of carrots in a week or so.

Richard Watson

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #6 on: 2020-07-26, 02:08:48 PM »
I cant see what you could possibly gain by trying to turn a carrot into and annual, it narrows down the length of time it can grow a descent sized eatable root - first half of the growing season is growing the root, second half its flowering and develops a woody root. Being a biannual is it best feature, a whole full growing season to grow as large a root as you can get, nothing better than pulling one carrot that feeds 5 people.
Changeable year round climate, less so summertime, warming winters - just under 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial out wash from the Southern
alps.

reed

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #7 on: 2020-07-26, 08:25:43 PM »
Being a biannual is it best feature, a whole full growing season to grow as large a root as you can get, nothing better than pulling one carrot that feeds 5 people.

That sounds pretty neat and I can grow some pretty good carrots. Planted in very early spring they produce nice big carrots. Problem is I haven't had much luck with overwintering them for seed the next year.

Our climate just isn't quite right for it. For one thing our winters are generally not terribly cold, long periods barely below 0 by your measure but punctuated by an occasional night or two as low as -25.  I think with, say a month not even freezing a lot cold tolerant things are not really even dormant. So when surprise! It's damn cold for a night or two they can't take it. My clay soil and usually no snow cover doesn't help either. Without the short cold snaps or if got cold and stayed cold I think things would do better.

And maybe I just haven't figured out how to work it my climate. I really want to because I love carrots and want to be able to produce my own seeds. If annualizing them is what I have to do, I'll take it even if they are smaller.
« Last Edit: 2020-07-26, 08:28:42 PM by reed »

Lauren

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #8 on: 2020-07-26, 09:19:05 PM »
I am by no means an expert on carrots, but we harvest ours midsummer. We always have. No way I could feed five people on one carrot, but I see no problem with harvesting midsummer and then encouraging seeding in the fall. Maybe smaller carrots but more of them, two crops possible in a single year with the first crop going to seed.

If that's what works, go for it.

reed

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #9 on: 2020-07-27, 01:37:06 AM »
I've had some luck planting seeds in late summer or fall and getting seed from them the next spring. Problem with that is it doesn't select for nicer better tasting roots like replanting bigger ones does. But the small ones that haven't been disturbed seem to survive much better. So, I'm gonna try selecting in spring. Next year I'll pull the ones I'm getting ready to plant right now and replant the best ones.

I'll basically be growing two crops I guess. One planted in spring for harvesting in summer and one planted in fall for seed. Having a small garden is a problem too. I never knew till recent years how big a carrot plant can get or how long it takes to mature to seed.

This year on my seed patch I ended up cutting the plants back to just two or three seed heads each. All those side branches and the of growing still more if cut back gives me an idea that by watching the neighborhood QAL I can time my flowering to not match up with it.

Ellendra

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #10 on: 2020-07-27, 10:38:06 AM »
I haven't had a chance to test this yet, but what if you saved the top 2 inches of each carrot, stored them in damp sand in a cold place all winter, then planted them in the spring? That should be enough root to regrow and flower, but without losing too much of the food value.
Harsh winters, high winds. Temps on the edge between zones 4 and 5. Steep, north-facing slope. Soil is high in clay and rocks. Fast draining, which is a surprise for clay soil. Indicates a sandy/gravelly layer underneath.

Andrew Barney

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #11 on: 2020-07-27, 10:59:21 AM »
in my climate the ones that go to seed early have little to no carrot root. And the ones that come up the next year are the same. i would weed them out if i were you.

BUT, if by chance you had one that was large rooted AND went to seed in the first year then maybe that would be an interesting project. The downside is they get woody and inedible once they flower, so it might not be a good idea after all.

Richard Watson

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Re: Carrots going to seed in their first year
« Reply #12 on: 2020-07-31, 02:44:35 PM »
I haven't had a chance to test this yet, but what if you saved the top 2 inches of each carrot, stored them in damp sand in a cold place all winter, then planted them in the spring? That should be enough root to regrow and flower, but without losing too much of the food value.
That's was something that I was going to add, that way too you can taste each of the roots for sweetness.

I do have to feel quite fortunate though that being a island nation our year round temperature range is small and makes growing somewhat idiot proof. I need to remind myself at times that just because it works for me does not always works for others.
Changeable year round climate, less so summertime, warming winters - just under 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial out wash from the Southern
alps.