Commercial production of carrot seed

The commercial production of varieties is a very delicate and important phase because the seed obtained from a large-scale process will produce a result to the farmer similar to that obtained by the breeder, during the various stages of evaluation of breeding.

Although conceptually there should be differences following the use of the same breeding strategy, in fact there are many things that could cause a deviation from the expected result. For example: material selection method, meteorological conditions, cultural techniques, specific diseases present in the area, agronomic products allowed, business organization of breeding companies, etc …

First of all, you need to realise that the agricultural areas in the world with climatic characteristics suited to the reproduction of carrot seeds are few and each with its own characteristic, thus unique. The main reproduction areas for the carrot seed are:

  • Europe (albeit with large climatic differences between the countries located in Northern Europe and those regions near the Mediterranean Basin)
  • USA (the same situation as that described for Europe)
  • Tasmania
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Chile
  • China

It is noted that not all agricultural areas of a Country are suitable for this purpose, further reducing available locations. In fact, the soil and climatic characteristics of a locality require a specific cultural management of seed reproduction through different agricultural techniques. For example, in most cases the reproduction of carrot seed is carried out with the “seed to seed” technique where the seed of the parental lines are sown directly in the field at a specific time of the year (usually late summer) in order to maximize flowering of the plants. The advantages of this technique are of logistic and organizational character, due to the fact there is a lower loss of plants during the winter as carrot plants are less prone to cold damage (moderate winter.) Conversely, the main drawback is that you cannot select the material used in reproduction.

This technique is not possible to introduce in the Chinese reproductions areas, because the extremely harsh winter will kill all the emerging carrot seedlings. In this case, the only possible strategy is called “root to seed” where, at the end of the first year, the roots are kept buried in holes in the ground to prevent them from being irreparably damaged by the cold. In early spring, the roots are retrieved and transplanted into the field. In this case production of seed requires two years. The advantages of this strategy is the possibility, in addition to avoiding substantial losses of roots during the winter, also to select the roots to be used in commercial reproduction, thereby more easily synchronizing flowering time of 2 parental lines. The main drawback is a possible major loss of plants after transplanting in the field due to fungal agents (if the material is not resistant) that have developed in the roots during the dormant period in the soil. The main consequence is that the final production could be heavily compromised both from a quantitative and qualitative point of view.

These two simple examples show how the quality of commercial production is not lowered – for this reason it is essential to carefully evaluate every aspect and understand the characteristics of the material you want to grow on, in order to choose the most suitable region for the agronomical characteristics utilised.

Carosem has chosen China for the reproduction of their varieties over the past few years. To date, the results obtained in this range for many of the reproduced materials, were excellent both from a quantitative and qualitative point of view. In addition the company want to expand the production and distribution areas creating European hybrids by choosing areas with climates and farming techniques different to those in China. This decision will allow periodic visits to breeding areas by Carosem personnel and enable prompt assistance from a technical point of view.