Carrot: Growth Stages, Pest, Diseases and Health Benefits

All plants, just like humans, have growth stages affected by pests and diseases and, in addition, have economic properties to humans. Carrot is not an exception. Observing the growth stages and knowing the possible pests and diseases that may affect the crunchy orange vegetable is fun for both experienced and beginner gardeners.

In this guide, you will learn about the carrot growth stages, pests and diseases, and the health benefits of carrots.

Let’s dive in!

Learn about carrots and its life circle

Carrot (Daucus carota) is a popular herbaceous root vegetable of the Umbelliferae family (mostly aromatic flowering plants) with an edible taproot. Carrots are generally biennial plants that complete their life cycle within two planting years. 

They produce a thick edible taproot during the first year, and the flowers and seeds are produced during the second year. Since we are primarily concerned about edible taproots, carrots are often considered annual plants. 

A matured carrot plant comprises firm, crispy, smooth taproots with structured rosette leaves. Carrots have several colored varieties, including purple, white, yellow, orange, and red. The orange-colored carrots are greatly favored among other carrot colors due to their high carotene content. 

Carrot is the second most popular vegetable in the world. It is viable for growth in almost all the continents of the world. Besides field cultivation, carrots can survive in containers, pots, and raised plant beds. Its survival and health benefits make it one of the choicest home plants. We will discuss health benefits of carrots extensively toward this blog’s end. 

What are different types of carrot?

The various carrot colors are classified into four types based on the length and shape of their roots. This classification helps in carrot commercial grading and sorting. 

The flavor and quality of the various types of carrots differ. It also helps to identify the correct kind of carrot to plant in a home garden based on the type of soil available. Below are the four types of carrots. 

  1. Danvers 
a bunch of organic Danvers carrots on a wooden board

Danvers carrot is characteristically thick and conical with a well-defined shoulder, tapering to 7 inches in length. This Dnaver carrot has strong foliage and can tolerate heavy soil conditions. Danvers carrot tends to have a longer shelf life (store well). You can eat them fresh or processed. 

  1. Chantenay 
a bunch of organic Chantenay carrots with roots and stems

Chantenay is a type of carrot with pale color, short taproot, and an average of 5 inches in length. They have thick girth and vigorous foliage. Chantenay is mainly cultivated for processing. This type of carrot thrives best in shallow and heavy soil types

  1. Nantes 
a bunch of organic  Nantes carrots are laid out on the soil

This type of carrot has a short cylindrical shape with a blunt tip, measuring up to 6.5 inches on average. They have fragile and easily damaged skin. They are the sweetest carrot type due to their high sugar content and excellent flavor. Nantes have a short shelf life (store poorly), making them the best home garden choices. 

  1. Imperator 
a dirty hand holds up a bunch of carrots, some still soiled

This type of carrot is grown majorly for commercial purposes. They have long slender roots measuring up to 10 inches, with a blunt tip. So, these were major types of carrots! Let’s move ahead for more details.

Deep analysis on carrot growth stages

Carrots are grown from seeds which can take up to 120 days to reach maturity. Some commercial cultivars reach maturity within 70-80 days under optimal carrot growth stages conditions

Carrots are sun-loving plants but can tolerate some shades. They require an optimum temperature of 16-21°C. For optimum growth, taproot development, and good yield. Each of those stages is discussed to highlight the best practices in each stage to achieve an optimum result. 

  1. Soil requirements/ land preparation stage
  2. Seed Sowing stage
  3. Seedling germinations stage
  4. Nutrient requirement/ fertilization application stage
  5. Flowering stage
  6. Harvesting stage
  7. Storage

1. Soil requirements and Land preparation stage

Ideally, carrots require well-drained, well-tilled, and fine-textured soil with good water-holding capacity. The best soil type for carrot cultivation is sandy-loamy or muck-based soil, with a pH ranging from 5.5-7.0. Carrots cannot tolerate/thrive in clay soil. 

Carrot seedlings do not tolerate soil crusting or compact soil. The soil needs to be adequately tilled before planting. You should prepare carrot seeds by removing rocky or stony materials from the ground. Stones can interview with the root penetration of the plant when growing. Ensure you till the soil or raised beds to about 35cm deep to ensure unrestricted root penetration. In addition, you can use racks when preparing the seed beds. 

2. Seed Sowing stage

Sowing the carrot seeds directly on the garden soil, raised beds, or container is essential. This process is vital because carrots do not tolerate/survive transplanting. Sow the seeds vertically or horizontally at equal intervals (3 inches apart). Ensure that the seeds are not buried deep in the soil. The ideal depth for carrot seedlings is 2 inches into the soil. 

Since the carrot seeds are small, we suggest you mix the carrot seed with dry sand to make the sowing process easier instead of sowing the seed directly. This help to prevent seedling overcrowding and wastage of seed during the sowing process.

To sow the seed into soil tops and containers, fill the top and container with nutritious or fertilized potting soil. Then gently tamp down to firm the soil and sow the seed very thinly over the top of the soil. Now cover the seed with a quarter-inch (1cm) layer of potting soil.

Ensure you water the soil immediately after sowing the seed.

Carrot seeds are very tiny and can easily be overcrowded. Mixing the seeds with dry sandy soil is recommended to ensure even cultivation of the seeds and to prevent overcrowding. After sowing, cover the seeds carefully with soil to avoid compacting. Wet the soil thoroughly with water. 

3. Seedling Germinations Stage

Carrot seeds have germinated on the surface of the soil

Carrot seeds are very slow to germinate. The seeds usually take between 2-3 weeks to sprout. The planting depth of the seeds can also influence their emergence timeframe. Planting the seeds too deep will slow down their emergence time. 

After the seedling emergence, thinning should be done. Thinning is the removal of overcrowded plants from the seedling bed to maintain the ideal carrot spacing of 3 inches apart. Cut the crowded plant you want to eliminate during thinning with scissors rather than pulling it. 

Different types of carrots requires a consistent moisture supply of approximately 2.5cm water per week. Ensure you irrigate the garden soil when necessary to provide an optimal water supply to the plant. Mulching is another way of conserving soil moisture for plant uptake and preventing weed growth. Use a tiny sheet of polythene to cover the plant bed or container.

4. Nutrient requirement/ fertilization application stage

Carrots are not heavy nutrient feeder type of plant. They require a medium amount of nitrogen, moderate phosphorus, and large potash. It is essential to carry out soil tests before carrying out fertilizer application. Excess application of Nitrogen fertilizer can boost foliage growth and slow down the development of the taproot, which is the edible part of the plant. 

 Alternately, soil mixed with compost before planting the carrot seeds does not need fertilizer application. 

5. Weed Control Stage

Weed is any plant that grows where it is not needed. For carrots, remove any other plant competing with the sown carrot seeds for nutrients, water, and air. Carrot plants are poor competitors with weeds; if not controlled timely, it can significantly reduce the yield of the plants. 

There are two broad methods of controlling carrot weeds: cultural and chemical. The chemical method is faster and easier and does not cause mechanical damage to the carrot crop. Use herbicide to control weeds in the carrot home garden. In a prevalent weedy soil, it is best to apply herbicide before planting and opt-in for pre/post-emergence herbicide after planting. 

During the land preparation stage, spray the soil with broad-spectrum non-selective systemic herbicide to kill both broadleaved and grass weeds. Visit any agro-herbicide store near you with the above description to get suitable herbicides for your region. 

At 2-8 days after sowing the carrot seeds, apply broad spectrum selective herbicide to control the pre/post-emergence, broadleaf/grass weeds in your carrot. Do not use herbicides when the carrot seeds have started sprouting to avoid killing the carrot crop and the weeds.  

The cultural method of weed control in carrots requires little or no cost. Although it requires lots of effort and can be time-consuming. This method is further divided into 5, which include;

  • Crop rotation
  • Mulching 
  • Using weed-free irrigation water
  • Sowing of clean, weed-free seeds
  • Hand-picking weeds 

Note: Proper soil tillage during land preparation combined with the cultural method of weed control is enough to control 90% of weeds in carrot home gardens or raised beds. 

6. Harvesting stage

carrots ready for harvest with the top of the roots showing above the top of the soil.

The shelf life and sweetness during carrot growth stages increases with their maturity. For a home garden, harvest carrots early for immediate consumption and leave the plant to mature adequately for storage. Avoid causing mechanical damage to the plant during harvesting to prevent the incidence of Sclerotinia disease during storage. 

Harvest the mature carrot by gently cutting the top leaves and digging out the taproot or by losing the soil around the taproot and gently pulling out the root with the leaves

  • Post-harvest Handling of Carrot 

Post-harvest handling is the various activities carried out after crop harvest to prevent mechanical damages, pest/insect attacks, and post-harvest losses. Below are some of the post-harvest carrot handling you should pay attention to. 

  • Cooling, Cleaning, and Sorting 

Carrots are cool-temperature-loving root vegetables that cannot withstand freezing temperatures. Remove the field heat from the carrot immediately after harvest. This process is called cooling. You can remove the carrot field heat by moving the harvested vegetable to a shaded area immediately after harvest. 

Wash the root vegetable with clean water to eliminate all attached earth. Sort out and discard damaged, diseased, or spoiled root vegetables from the lot to prevent contamination. 

7. Storage

carrots stored in a wooden box for the winter

You can store healthy, matured, non-damaged carrots for up to 6 months. Store the carrot at 0°C and 98% relative humidity to prevent excessive moisture loss. 

For long-term storage, the unwashed carrot can be placed in containers between sand and wood caving layers at a 50/50 mixture. 

Common Pest and Diseases of Carrot 

  • Flea Beetles 

Adult flea beetles (Systema spp) are known to cause severe damage to carrots when they persistently attack them during the seedling stage. They mainly infest the foliage of the carrot plant, thereby disrupting its photosynthetic cycles. Minor attacks of flea beetles do not cause damage to a carrot. 

Apply appropriate insecticide to control flea beetle and prevent its further infestation on the carrot foliage. 

  • Carrot Fly 
carrot fly one kind of pest and diseases of carrot

The carrot fly (Psila rosae) is a carrot garden and field pest. They attack the plant by burrowing and making tunnels on the surface of the carrot root. They fill the tunnel with brownish, rusty-colored mush.

You can manage carrot flies by covering each row on the carrot seedbeds with polythene to prevent the plant from the flies. Do this after the carrot seed sprouts or the adult flies lay eggs on the plant. 

  • Armyworms 

The armyworm (Pseudaletia unipuncta) is an insect that moves from grain crops or weeds into carrot plants. They usually attack carrot plants from late winter through spring when grain crops have been harvested. The adult may also lay eggs directly on the carrot plant and feed from it. 

Armyworms can easily be controlled with foliar insecticides when they’ve not invaded extensively on the carrot leaves. 

  • Sclerotinia Diseases 

This is a carrot field and storage disease caused by Sclerotinia sclerotium. Noticeable symptoms of sclerotinia disease include; dark brown foliage covered with whitish mold. The infected carrot will become soft and watery, covered with white mold in storage. 

As stated in the harvesting stage above, avoid improper handling of the carrot you intend to store. Crop rotation is another way of naturally getting rid of this disease in the soil. Practice proper hygiene during carrot harvesting and regularly clean the storage unit. 

  • Alternaria Leaf Blight Disease 

Alternaria leaf blight is caused by a fungus called Alternaria dauci. Warm weather conditions and wet foliage influence the emergence of this disease. The noticeable symptoms of Alternaria leaf blight are; greenish-brown, water-soaked lesions on the leaves. The lesion enlarges and turns from dark brown to black. After some time, the lesion will coalesce while they will become yellow and die off. 

The preventive measure against Alternaria disease is to treat seeds with hot water or fungicide before planting. At the sight of the first symptom of Alternaria disease in your garden, apply the appropriate fungicide to prevent its further attack on the plant. You can also apply gibberellic acid to the carrot leaves to promote upright carrot growth stages and air circulation. 

  • Bacterial Leaf Blight Disease 

Bacterial leaf blight disease is one of the most prevalent carrot diseases. The bacteria Xanthomonas campestris is responsible for this disease. The noticeable symptoms of bacterial leaf blight on carrot plants include; small, yellowish angular spots on the carrot leaves. The spots will expand into an irregular shape, brownish, water-soaked lesion if left untreated. With time, the center of the lesion will dry out and become brittle. 

To avoid bacterial leaf blight attacks on your carrot plants, ensure to sow pathogen-free seeds. Apply the appropriate bactericides at first sight of bacterial leaf blight disease symptoms in your carrot garden. Also, avoid splashing water directly on the carrot foliage during irrigation or wetting. Use clean, germ-free water for carrot irrigation or wetting. 

Health Benefits of Carrots

The root vegetable carrot is a rich source of beta carotene, fiber, Vitamin k1, potassium, and antioxidant compounds. These minerals, vitamins, and chemicals have a number of benefits for your health.

Vitamin A obtained from carrots contains alpha and beta-carotene. These nutrients in carrot help to improve vision and eye health. In addition, carrot contains antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which also enhance eye vision and are also natural compounds that protect the eye’s retina and lens. Vitamin A deficiency may lead to a condition called xerophthalmia and night blindness.

The soluble fiber in carrots helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels after eating, especially in diabetic patients where high blood sugar concentration is dangerous to health. Although carrots are known to have high sugar compared to other forms of vegetables, they have a low glycemic index and help in diabetes management.

In addition, the antioxidant found in carrots is cell-specific and have been found to reduce the risk of cancer. The beta-carotenoid reduces the risk of colorectal, prostate, and blood cancer. 

Also, another carotenoid called lycopene has the potential to fight cancer in the stomach, prostate, and breast cancer.

Conclusively, the potassium component of the carrot plays a vital role in blood pressure regulation and give more Health Benefits of Carrots. This mineral balances the body’s sodium level and removes excess ones from the body fluid. This process takes off pressure from the heart and relieves it.


Carrots are easy home plants to grow. They can be cultivated all year round by providing favorable carrot growth stages conditions for the plant. Following the various steps highlighted in the blog makes tending to your carrot plant, from seed sowing to harvesting, easy and take more Health Benefits of Carrots. 

Perform proper tillage before planting the carrot seeds to prevent weed and pest attacks and for optimum yield. 


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