How can growers reduce post-harvest losses with carrots?
Carrot price trends vary wildly around the world, but the focus remains the same, how can you maximise the amount of crop that remains in a saleable state? One key aspect of this is avoiding the ‘silvering’ of carrots that indicates dehydration and results in lower value being captured.
In our home country of New Zealand, carrots showed a massive 51% price jump between February 2016 and February 2017. Media in India have recently reported carrot prices doubling during 2017 in some cities. Contrast this with Russian reports putting carrot prices at a five-year low in late 2016, as well as Australian farmers facing the biggest carrot oversupply in 25 years, and media coverage in Germany suggesting that while organic carrot prices are holding firm in 2017, the value of conventional produce is dropping.
Climatic conditions, harvesting cycles, regulatory changes, import rules, consumer trends, market competitiveness – the list of factors affecting carrot prices is endless. Growers focus on what they can control – the efficient harvesting and processing of their output.
For carrots, a key component is colour. A bright orange is the key to saleability.
Interestingly carrots were not originally predominantly orange; instead yellow, white, red or purple in their natural state. The colour switch began when Dutch farmers in the 17th century started crossing carrot varieties to get an orange product as a tribute to their leader William of Orange.
The “Long Orange Dutch Carrot” proved so popular it eventually became a global standard, to the point where to paraphrase Henry Ford, ‘you can have a carrot in any colour you want as long it is orange.’It is the colour silver that is the problem for growers, where dehydration causes a white film or ‘silvering’ effect that while not impacting on the safe consumption of the vegetable, affects it saleability. What can growers do to mitigate against this value-destroying effect on their carrots?
Having supplied Vege-Polishers, pre-cleaning, waste removal, sizing and full line solutions to carrot growers around the world, we’ve seen what sort of approaches tend to minimise silvering or other quality issues with carrots. There is not one single action a grower can take to address silvering, but rather it is about looking at carrot handling right through the key stages – harvesting, storage before processing, processing, and storage after processing.
Growers can implement initiatives at each stage that will reduce the risk of silvering and deliver a fresher, more attractive product ready for sale.
Peter Knotts, Wyma Solution’s Group Project Delivery Manager, has put together a summary of best practices on carrot handling in a guide called “How to get the best out of your carrots: Ideas for growers on improving carrot quality from harvest to processing”. It includes 9 tips for improving carrot quality.
Download the guide here.