The Q&A Archives: Bitter Carrots

Question: I just taste-tested a carrot from the earliest spring planting. It was rather pale in color and quite bitter. It was a nicely shaped young carrot with a big healthy-looking green top. The soil is loose and sandy but not extremely rich. I had added composted manure in the spring and once in July. Any suggestions?

Answer: These problems are associated with growing and environmental conditions during the maturing period. Carrots grow best and develop the highest sugar content when temperatures are between 40F and 75F degrees. The sweetest carrots are harvested in the early winter from a fall planting. Warm temperatures and excessive moisture cause carrots to be pale in color. Supply water only as required (about one inch per week during the growing season). Try planting carrots this fall for an early winter harvest.

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