Carrots are grown mainly outdoors, and on a limited scale in glasshouses and plastic tunnels. The product is often sold directly off-the-field but there are also varieties for storage during the winter: in huge cold stores or covered with straw out in the field. The types that are used worldwide differ especially in shape. A number of classic shapes are round ‘Paris Market’, cylindrical Amsterdam Forcing and Nantes. On top of that there are very many intermediate shapes.
Many carrot crops are precision-drilled by machine and lifted mechanically. The processes of washing and packing are usually also mechanised. This needs specific traits and at Rijk Zwaan we are working hard on these. Moreover, we also focus on disease resistances and good product qualities for the various buyers. Some of these are: storage life, flavour and dry-matter content. But good and uniform germination vigour and the right shape and size of the seed also come into it.
Breeding carrot varieties is more and more a matter of tailoring, with growers asking for certain combinations of traits from different types. Some of these could be, for instance, shape, earliness and size and there are different colours, including white, purple and yellow. Rijk Zwaan also invests a lot of energy in research. In order to reduce the use of chemical pest and disease control we work on resistances to pests and diseases and by means of research and tasting panels we improve the flavour.