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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture with Added Grower and Consumer Value

Location: Vegetable Crops Research Unit

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop carrot breeding stocks for production in organic agriculture systems with improved nutritional value, trial carrots in diverse growing locations, and release germplasm to the seed industry. Grow carrot trials under conventional and organic practices in California.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
a) Plant carrot seed with elite nematode and alternaria resistance and weed tolerance for testing in conventional and organic fields, three replicates each entry.

b) Evaluate seedling emergence.

c) Hand weed organic plots as needed; control weeds in conventional trials.

d) Evaluate top size of each entry at one month, three months, and harvest.

e) Harvest crop and provide root samples to PI's lab.


3.Progress Report:

This project was renumbered from 3655-21000-048-47A to 3655-21000-062-21A. The national project team made progress in three key project areas.
1)germplasm development,.
2)field trials, and.
3)outreach and information development. Breeding: Roots of several of the promising carrot populations that contain traits of interest in this project were planted in both isolation plots on cooperating farms and in screen cages for seed increase. Roots for these plantings were grown in the evaluation trials in California. Selection of the roots was done at the time of harvest for horticultural traits of interest and again after the roots were subjected to over 8 weeks of vernalization in a cooler for their storage ability. A small increase of seed is also being produced of two promising accessions with tall foliage in the hopes of using it for breeding in crosses that will be made in the next cycle.

Field Trials: Trials were planted on organic and conventional fields on the Mercer Ranch farm in central Washington near Paterson, Washington. Organic farmer stakeholders were consulted on selection of commercially available varieties for comparison. Detailed trial protocols were developed by the project team and refined throughout the season based on field conditions. Early emergence and vigor ratings were conducted by Washington State University (WSU) staff and a final evaluation at harvest time by project team. A selection of roots from the promising entries were sent to Madison for nutritional and flavor evaluations. Notes were kept on the trial methods and refined at the end of season.

Data from the paired field trials in Washington, California, Wisconsin, and Indiana were compiled and analyzed to determine differences and means for the entries, systems and locations. Traits evaluated included early, mid season and harvest top height and top width, top weight at harvest, root weight at harvest, root sweetness, and root harshness. Data for each of these data were tested for normality and equal variance.

Outreach: Project outreach included website development, workshops and conference presentations, and poster presentations. The website is publically available at http://eorganic.info/group/7645 and is populated with project information, collaborators information, related resources, calendar of events, project publicity, and the online organic variety trial database. Outreach events for 2012 included a field workshop on organic carrot breeding at the Organic Seed Student Symposium, September 2012, in Vermont, reaching 35 graduate students nationally and a full day workshop on organic breeding at the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Agriculture and Education Conference (MOSES). An Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) Senior Scientist also delivered a day-long workshop on variety improvement to farmers in Indiana in conjunction with the Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) farmer field day. A project poster was developed and presented at Organicology, Tilth Producers of Washington, Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG), and (MOSES) Conferences. A prominent article reporting on the project was released in the winter 2012 issue of Carrot Country Magazine: http://digital.turn-page.com/i/88095/0. This research relates to the objective of evaluating carrot germplasm in organic and conventional systems by providing a crop for evaluating consumer quality characteristics and genetic markers in germplasm under development.


Last Modified: 4/24/2014
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