Criteria for Stump Root Carrots
12th Apr 2001
More years ago than I care to remember by now, I won the class for carrots other than long at the NVS Championships when they were hosted by the RHS at Wisley. The variety was Corrie and was seen for the first time that year, and what an excellent carrot it has proved to be. Sadly though it will no longer be available after next year as it is being withdrawn. The colour of Corrie at that time was stupendous making all the other traditional stumps look very pale and tired.
However it had, what I considered at that time, to have one small weakness in that it took a considerable time to fully develop a proper stump end. This of course, though meritorious, was not such a strict criteria at that time and given it's excellent colour and uniformity I have won many shows with it since.
The current criteria, in both the RHS and NVS judges guides, now clearly state that a dish of carrots stump rooted or other than long should have a decided stump root. In other words the bottom end of the carrot should be fully developed being nice and rounded from which the intact tap root should protrude.
Indeed the NVS handbook goes further and states that carrots which do not have a decided stump will be down pointed. Most short or stump carrots have this decided stump end, but it develops as the carrot reaches maturity, indeed it is probably the last part of the carrot to fully develop. A good way of knowing that your carrot has developed a stump end is when it starts pushing itself out of the ground with the consequence that the shoulders get exposed turning green and they must therefore be duly covered over with some compost or sand.
It follows therefore, now that this criteria is more or less a 'Must" rather than a 'Should', that the sowing dates for these carrots has to be brought forward slightly in order to give the carrot an opportunity to grow to full maturity.
Another aspect in the carrots development is warmth, if we have a lovely warm Summer there is no doubt that you get better quality carrots with far superior colour. I have noticed over the past few years with both my long and short carrots, which are grown at Bangor University greenhouses for the Chelsea show, how good the colour is and the relatively quick development of the stump root.
The reason for the better colour is undoubtedly the consistent warmth and light that they experience throughout their life being grown at a minimum temperature of 18°C which a is about 64°F.
Jim Thompson has had some excellent results with short carrots through using a new cultivar called Gringo that I introduced on to the show scene some two years ago. This particular carrot has a superb skin finish, a parallel body with a length of around 7 inches and extremely uniform and not difficult at all to get a matching set.
In order to get a set from the middle of August onwards Jim would make his first sowing around the 8th April outside followed by a couple more sowings for continuity. Sowing at this time will give him a chance of harvesting some top quality specimens with a well developed and distinct stump end. Jim has another interesting and innovative method of ensuring that every carrot he pulls has this meritorious criteria. The day he pulls his carrots, and they are all grown in a raised bed filled with sand, he makes his selection for size by first clearing sand away from the shoulders to match them. He then uses a short piece of 6 inch diameter plastic pipe which he pushes down into the sand next to the carrot which he wants to pull. He cores out the sand and then puts his hand down the cored hole and feels for the bottom of the nearest carrot to check if it has developed a distinct stump. If it has, he will then gently pull at the fine tap root until it is released before carefully extracting the whole carrot.
Gringo, Canada and Caroline
I shall this week therefore have my first sowing of Gringo, this will be followed by another bed of Canada and another of Caroline, all brand new varieties which are F1 hybrids and having the Chantenay shape and should soon be making a name for themselves on the show scene. The mix for, the short carrots is exactly the same as the one I used for my long carrots which this year is predominantly the John Branham mixture and is as follows: 1 - 3 gallon bucket of sieved soil, 3 - 3 gallon buckets of finely sieved Moss peat, 2 gallon of silver sand and 1 gallon of vermiculite giving a total mixture by volume of 15 gallons. To the above John adds 6 ounces of Chempak BTD (Base Top Dressing) 4 ounces of lime and 4 ounces of calcified seaweed.
As Corrie is being withdrawn, I do intend to try and stage another good set of it and these will be sown inside my polytunnel in half plastic 45 gallon drums filled with sand and 6 stations filled with the above mixture. Timing of short and long carrots is important when growing them under covers as they can easily grow far too large and mis shapen if sown at the same time as those outside. I found this out to my detriment last year when I wasn"t able to show a single carrot from those early sowings, they had all gone well over the top. They were sown last year on the 7th April which was far too early so this time I intend to delay the sowing until the first week in May at the earliest. Who knows I might just win these once more so that It won't be that far back that I wont remember when I won it.