The history of the carrot can be traced back 5000 years, originating in Afghanistan, and then over the centuries being carried along the trade routes of Arabia, Africa, and Asia, to be sold in regions anxious to cultivate new and productive plants. Even in the early days there were many varieties of carrots, coming in an assortment of colours - purple, white, black, and red but, surprisingly, not orange!
Both the ancient Greeks and the Romans were familiar with carrots, although these early varieties were not the sweet, succulent orange carrots that are grown today. Early carrots were typically not often eaten as food by the Greeks, but were used for medicinal purposes. The Romans were known to have eaten both raw and cooked carrots accompanied with an olive oil dressing containing different herbs.
Carrots were well-known to 16th century botanists and writers, who described red and purple varieties in France, and yellow and red varieties in England. The Dutch cross-bred the yellow and red carrot, to produce a variety that was the emblematic colour of the House of Orange. This carrot quickly became popular and was further developed to become the sweet, succulent orange carrot which is the most recognized colour of carrot used throughout the world today.
Carrots arrived in Australia in 1788 and became an important food for the colonists. Currently there are approximately 1 million hectares produced worldwide making carrots a major staple for many cultures.
There are 5 main classes of carrot:
• Nantes - bagging carrot. These are the main market with carrots 18 to 20cm long.
• Amsterdam forcing - bunching carrot. This is the secondary fresh market with carrots 10 to 15cm long.
• Berllicum / Flakkee - processing / juicing. Larger carrots with high beta carotene and sugars.
• Kuroda – juicing. Also larger carrots with high juice and sugar content. Mainly in the Asian market.
• Chantenay - processing (freezing). OP varieties.
The main diseases of carrots include Alternaria (usually seen in storage), Cavity Spot (causing black spots on the roots), Xanthomonas (causing blight which reduces the top strength), Nematodes (causing root galls) and Pythium (causing root splitting).
Currently Lefroy Valley have a range of Nantes and Nantes/Kuroda hybrid types. Please contact your local representative (see Contact tab on this web site) for technical information on these varieties, or go to the Product tab on this web site to view individual technical information sheets.