“I have purchased Bolero Carrots for the last couple of years & have grown them with great results. I bury them in sand in the fall & they are still nice & crisp when we dig out the last ones in June but many of them have a black, (I’m assuming), fungus on them. It’s not too much of a problem, but I was wondering what would cause that. I don’t know how moist the sand should be when I bury them or if it should be moist at all. I got the sand from the woods. Could it be possible that the fungus was already in the sand? I’ve attached a picture of them. I know you are busy, but I sure would like some help before I put this year’s crop away. ~G.”
Thank you for the email regarding your carrots. I apologize for taking so long to respond to your email, but have been out of state on vacation the past week.
First of all, it appears that your stored carrots are suffering from Crown Rot. Crown rot is caused by the same Rhizoctonia fungus which causes damping-off when seedlings are small. On carrot roots, early symptoms are horizontal dark brown lesions; as the crop matures the tops may die in patches in the field. It is believed that infections can occur early in the growing season during wet periods, however, symptoms may not be detected until later in the season. Near harvest the lesions join to form large, deep, rotten areas on the top part of the root. Control of this disease is nearly impossible if late summer and fall conditions are wet. Earlier harvests, planting on ridges, crop rotation, careful handling during harvest, storage sanitation and extremely good storage conditions might reduce losses to the disease. Reducing the spread of infected soil on cultivation and harvesting equipment is also important.
As for storing the carrots, my method differs a little from yours. Prepare the carrots like you’re going to store them in the refrigerator. Then pack into containers surrounded by straw or sawdust for keeping in any outdoor storage pit or root cellar. Place them in an area just above 32 degrees Fahrenheit with 95 percent humidity.
Traditionally, this was done in a pit or clamp with a layer of straw and soil on top, along with potatoes. The clamp keeps the roots cool and slightly moist too. If an old fridge is available, it makes a very good store. Plastic bags with holes are quite good too, but the roots must have cool conditions or they will sprout. Storage in sand and soil is sometimes recommended but this can create earthy, woody off-flavours in carrots. Do NOT store near apples!
The method of preserving the root vegetables was known as ‘clamping’ and it involved storing the vegetables in what was known as a ‘clamp’. The principles were:
- to store only those vegetables that were in sound condition and to remove excess stalks and leaves that could rot in storage
- to keep the stored vegetables slightly moist so that they did not dry out while keeping out the wet which would have made them rot
- to prevent the frost getting to them
- to prevent the light getting to them.
If you are interested in using sand, you want to make sure that it is only damp to the touch and not wet.
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