Why Carrots Crack: Tips For Preventing Cracking In Carrots

Cracking In Carrots
(Image credit: serggn)

Carrots are an extremely popular vegetable, so much so that you may want to grow your own. There is some degree of difficulty when growing your own carrots and the results may be less than the perfectly shaped carrots purchased at the supermarket. Soil density, available nutrients and moisture may all conspire to engender twisted, malformed and often cracking carrot crops. If you are seeing split carrot roots, you may be wondering how to prevent cracking in carrots crops.

Why Carrots Crack

If your carrots are cracking, the malady is likely the result of inadequate environmental preferences; water needs to be exact. Carrot roots need moist soil, but don't like to be waterlogged. Moisture stress not only results in cracking in carrot crops, but may also cause underdeveloped, woody, and bitter roots. The cracking of the roots occurs after a time of a lack of irrigation and then a sudden onslaught of moisture, such as a downpour after a period of drought.

How to Prevent Cracking in Carrots

Along with consistent moisture, growing the perfect, or almost perfect, carrot also requires healthy, well-draining soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. The soil should be free from rocks, as they will keep the roots from growing true, twisting them as they grow. These hardy biennials should be seed sown at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch (.6-1.3 cm.) deep in rows spaced 12-18 inches (30-46 cm.) apart. Fertilize with 2 pounds (.9 kg.) of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet prior to planting and side dress with ½ pound (.23 kg.) of the 10-10-10 per 100 square feet as needed. Overcrowding may also result in misshapen roots. To combat that issue, mix the seed in with fine, light soil or sand and then scatter the mix in the bed. Vigilantly control weeds, which can interfere with the growth of young carrot seedling. Add mulch around the carrot plants to retard weed growth and retain moisture. Plenty of moisture -- 1 inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week -- is required to help the carrots grow quickly, but to prevent cracking of carrots. To grow the shapeliest roots, carrots must have smooth, almost powdery soil with a well enriched, deeply dug loam. If you follow the above information, in 55-80 days, you should be pulling up delicious, unblemished carrots. Carrots can be left in the ground during the winter and only dug up as needed.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.