Carrot Trial Field Day
By Leah Lawson, Partnerships and Development Director OFRF
It was one of those beautiful fall days when the air was crisp and cool. As I drove out to the campus, the sky faded into a beautiful prairie sunset of purples, reds, and oranges – much like the colors of what was to be my favorite carrot of the night.
Our three hosts for the evening, Sheri Doyel, Micaela Colley, and Kim Sowinski, took us through the process and purpose of the project titled “Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture” (CIOA). We learned about domestication pathways and how culinary and cultural history blend together to create varieties throughout the world. We also learned about the process of carrot breeding. They only flower after the second year of growth, so harvesting the seeds is a long process. Each carrot variety has to be grown in a separate tent to keep them separate and prevent insects with unwanted pollen from getting into the mix.
Of course, the best part of the evening was tasting the carrots. We tried ten varieties grown on the MCC Student Farm, rating them each for taste, sweetness, texture, and color. Sheri and Kim collected all of this data to aggregate with the results from all the other farms participating in the study. Each variety will also receive ratings from the growers on soil health, disease resistance, and production rate. You can sign up on the Seed Linked website if you want to join a similar trial.
Unfortunately, my two favorite carrots were not great producers, so I don’t think I will find them at my local farmers’ market soon. However, I did get to take some of the leftover carrots. After returning home, I conducted another quick tasting with my kids, and we all marveled at their differences.