MASTER GARDENERS: Growing carrots in West Texas

By Debbie Roland and

Emmy Ulmschneider

Master Gardeners

Who doesn’t love carrots?!?! Kids and adults both like to snack on carrots; cooked or raw, they add color to meals and are a great source of Vitamin A. We have a long history with the carrot, Daucus carota sbsp. sativus, which was domesticated from the wild carrot, Queen Annes’s Lace, Daucus carota. The first carrots were red not orange. The Dutch gave us our familiar orange carrot in the 18th century. And some of you may even grow the “original carrot,” Queen Anne’s Lace, a good pollinator plant for small insects as an ornamental in your yard.

Carrots can be grown in West Texas provided they have at least 12” of loose fertile soil without rocks or clods. Carrots growing around rocks or clods will be “L” shaped or split. Here are the steps to take for your successful harvest either now in early spring and again in the fall:

  • Choose your carrot variety. Recommended varieties for West Texas are Danvers 126, Danvers Half Long, Nantes Half Long, Red Cored Chantenay, and Royal Chantenay.
  • Select a spot that is in full sun to part shade. Carrots do well in flowerbeds and the tops add attractive foliage to your beds. To begin spade your soil 12” deep adding compost as you turn. If you use compost, you probably won’t need to add fertilizer as carrots are low nitrogen users. Adding fertilizer can give the plant too much nitrogen which can result in too much top growth and not enough of that delicious root.
  • Smooth out and prepare rows that are 1 to 2’ apart and 1/2” deep. A 10’ row per person should be enough for your family for the season. Carrot seeds are very small. To disperse the seeds evenly, add the seeds and fine dry sand to a saltshaker and then shake the seed-sand mixture into your row just like you would salt. Cover with soil very lightly. Carrots will not sprout for 14 to 21 days so consider planting radish seeds, along the row. Radish seeds sprout quickly and will mark the row for you.
  • Thin 4” high plants to 2” apart. Overcrowding can result in a poor-quality harvest. Continue to keep your garden free of weeds since they take water and nutrients from your soil and will reduce your yield.
  • Harvest carrots about 70 days from the date of planting. Use a spade to loosen the soil then gently lift the carrot out. If you try to pull it without loosening the soil the carrot can break.
  • Wash your carrots, place them in a plastic bag to increase the humidity and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy them for several weeks.

If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700. Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at Click on “Resources.”