Carrot and Beet seed production

Posted by Montana Survival Seed on




MAY 13, 2022



These stecklings (roots) were grown at the Missoula Grain and Vegetable Farm in Stevensville, MT for the CSA and farmer’s market customers.  Since these roots were of choice/premium food quality, it was an easy time finding the best roots for seed production.  

These crops have similar growing and transplanting requirements.  

Its important to meet or exceed the minimum steckling population requirements for genetic strength.  If not, your seed and food crops will dive down quickly and lose nutrition and plant vigor, amongst others.  

Home gardeners need to meet at least the minimum, and folks like me should ALWAYS go above and beyond to keep the open genetics flowing and healthy.  



Its important when growing biennials (sets seed in second year) to grow adolescent or “teenager” plants instead of growing full grown adult or baby plants.  These young and full of energy plants overwinter in the cellar/storage much happier and healthier.  

Harvest the roots just before a hard frost in the Fall, pull  roots and shake dirt (not washed) from roots, trim green tops to about 1-2 inches from root, store all winter, and transplant around May 5-15 here in the Bitterroot Valley.  These stecklings were stored in a plastic bag with lots of holes in their barn at around 35 degrees with a high humidity.  They can also be stored in damp sand/wood shavings in a cellar.   Folks can experiment with storing in the fridge...just try not to freeze them wonderful roots.  They don't like freezing.  

The beets were set out in fluffy dirt at 18” in row spacing and 3 feet b/w the rows.  This large spacing b/w rows facilitates “elbow room” for the beets and helps with seed harvest.  These will likely be staked with T posts and natural twine to prop up the “hopefully” large and seed heavy stalks.  

Beets/chard are the same species (Beta vulgaris) and are wind pollinated, so its important to set them up in a block pattern vs. a straight line of plants.  If in a straight line, the pollen can fly around and not go where its needed.  The block ended up being about 130 premium beets at 60 feet long and almost 18 feet across.  3 rows of beets and carrots with beds being close to 3 feet wide.  

They were set out similar to how they were growing at their harvest, the tops barely above soil line.  They have been getting irrigated to help with their establishment.  

Beets need around 80+ stecklings for a healthy genetic population for robust seed production.  A minimum of 20 is needed for basic home garden seed saving.

  • 20 beet minimum 
  • 10 feet long x 15 feet wide
  • 7 beets per row x 3 beds = 21 stecklings
  • 18 inch b/w beets in row spacing
  • Beds at 3 feet across and spaced 3 feet apart are close to my seed sized beds at the farm. 



Differences from the beets:


  1. 1 foot in row spacing
  2. 3 feet b/w row (same as beets)

Some folks will cut a 45 degree angle at base of carrot to see root interior and do taste test.  If you do, please let harden off for at least a day in a cool and shady location.  If carrot is 9 inches long, trim off the bottom 3 inches.  This also helps with transplanting.  

200 carrots were sown and created a block of around 35-45 feet long by 18 feet wide.  (forgot actual length sorry). 

Carrots are in the Parsley family and are pollinated by insects and other pollinators...even ants and house flies will pollinate these crazy carrots.  Carrot flowers are one of my favorite smelling flowers.  

Carrots need around 100+ plants for a healthy genetic population for robust seed production.  A minimum of 50 is needed for basic home garden seed saving.  

This minimum of 50 plants will create a block pattern of around a 10 foot long row with 2 rows of stecklings per bed.  (20 plants so far per carrot seed bed).  Do this 3 times or 3 beds wide to get around 60 stecklings.  

  1. 10 feet long x 10 feet wide
  2. 2-3 feet b/w each row for walking and saving seed.  



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