Published: 1994-04-19


We first offered this carrot in the last issue. Dr. Warwick Kerr has provided more information

“Carrots do not usually flower in the tropics. Eighty years ago a group of Portuguese growers planted carrots from Portugal and the Madeira Island in the southernmost state of Brazil. Some of these plants flowered and produced seed. Plant breeders from Sao Paulo and Brasilia independently collected seeds and developed varieties called ‘tropics’ and 'Brasilia.’

"I used these two in my work at the Federal Universities of Maranhao and, currently, of Uberlandia. For five generations I selected the best carrots using the following criteria: (1) size between 12-18 cm, (2) parallel sides, (3) red xylem, (4) resistance to local diseases, (5) late flowering, (6) no green on the top of the root. I call the resulting cultivar 'Uberlandia.’ The vitamin A content (carotene) is between 9,000 and 11,000 I. U.

"It is advisable that people who grow the carrot in other areas carry out their own selection. Here is how to do it. After 90 days dig up all the carrots. Select the best 30 according to the above standards or standards of your own. Re-plant these carrots right away and allow to go to seed. The red xylem can be observed by cutting 3 cm of the inferior tip (narrow end) of the carrot. Discard if the xylem is yellow.”

Dr. Kerr has made a great contribution to Third World gardeners. In the USA, much of the work done at universities is for a hybrid so that people will need to purchase seeds each year and money will be available to fund research programs. We need more breeders working on seeds for the poor.

There is clearly variability in the seeds, as the three carrots I tasted (second generation from original Uberlandia seed) had green tops and yellow xylem. We will begin our own selection program to adapt to our conditions, and encourage you to do the same.