Carrot (Daucus carota), cool-climate plant belonging to the Umbelliferae family and grown as a root crop in Canada. Carrots are biennials, but are grown as annuals. They are native to central Asia and were used as medicinal herbs in Afghanistan before their introduction to Europe in medieval times. Carrots have been improved by selection and hybridization: those destined for processing have large, thick, conical roots; those for the fresh market are rather long and cylindrical. The root is a reservoir for sugars manufactured by the leaves. Leafstalks and leaves, which are used to pull the carrot from the soil during mechanical harvesting, must be protected from leaf diseases.
Carrots require 70-100 days to produce a harvest of approximately 30 t/ha for the fresh market and 60 t/ha for the processing industry. Principal insect pests are weevils and flies; common plant diseases, Alternaria andCercospora blights. Carrots are a source of ascorbic acid and are consumed fresh, cooked or as juice. They are grown in every province; nearly 9000 ha (close to 3000 ha in Québec alone) are devoted to commercial production.