Carrots are increasingly becoming more valued crop among smallholder farmers in Kenya due to its marketability, short maturity period and low attention requirement making it easy to manage. In Kenya there are varieties like Chantney, Nantes and Oxheart but many farmers opt for Nantes due to its nice deep orange colour as well as sweet taste preferable by many consumers.
“Nantes is almost core-less carrot with a bigger sweet tasty flesh and keeps fresh for a long time. This makes it most liked by farmers as it has high market demand,” said Caroline Munyao, Customer Manager at Kenya Highland Seed Limited.
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Nantes is known with its cylindrical rounded tip shape which measures 17-20cm and it also has high protein content. Unlike other varieties it is highly resistant to Powdery Mildew, a disease capable of killing about 70 per cent of the crops in a farm.
“This variety of carrot takes about 100 days to mature and can produce between 14-17 tonnes per acre as compared to other carrot varieties which take more days and produce less,” said Munyao.
“It is the ideal carrot for all seasons meaning farmers can grow this variety throughout the year resulting to whole year flow of cash to the farmers.”
Nantes like other carrots is a root crop therefore the seeds are directly planted in the field. However, unlike other varieties that require well drained sandy or silt soils, Nantes does well in in loose non-sticky soils with a slight pH of 6 to 6.8 and temperatures ranging from 15 to 20 degrees. High temperatures result in pale carrots with shorter roots and poor flavor.
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Munyao says the soil must be well prepared. “Hard soil clods divides growing carrots into branches resulting to less quality produce for the market.”
Planting depth should be about a centimetre while spacing is 30cm from row to row. When the crops are two inches high, farmers are advised to thin to an inch apart. This should happen again in three weeks later as it will avoid producing carrots with crooked roots.
An acre piece of land requires 2.5Kg of seeds. Nantes seeds are available with Kenya Highland Seed Limited at a range of 10g to 1kg. They sell 10gms at Sh80 and 1kg at Sh3738.
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“We even have 4g for those who would like to grow the carrots in their kitchen gardens at Sh35 and our seeds are found in agrovets all over the country,” said Munyao.
Currently a kilo of Nantes carrots is retailing for not less than Sh50.