Though you’re still a few months away from enjoying your first Oxbow carrot of 2016, you should be pleased to know that not one, but two successions of our favorite root crop are well on their way from seed to, well, carrot. But spring-sown carrots = serious weed pressure and hand-weeding an entire acre of teeny baby carrots is no joke.
Carrots are very slow to germinate, which actually works in our favor when dealing with the relentless weed competition that faces direct-sown crops. We often practice a technique called stale-bedding to manage weeds, especially in the beginning of the season. Stale-bedding is a blanket term for killing as many rounds of weeds as possible either before we even sow or transplant or after we have sown seeds, but before the plants have emerged (called pre-emergent stale-bedding).
Thanks to the lengthy germination time for our crops in the umbelliferae family (including carrots), we are usually able to get that last pre-emergent stale-bed in and can save ourselves some serious hand-weeding time. Our pre-emergent stale-bed technique is walking up and down the beds with a flame thrower, burning up the weeds and killing them at the surface without disrupting the germinating seeds below ground. This method can take up to five hours of labor time per acre of carrots! A tractor-mounted flame-weeder could accomplish the task in a fraction of the time. That’s definitely on our implement wish list!
The spring weather has provided excellent conditions for stale-bedding – rain causes the weed seed to germinate, and then the dry spells let us get the tractors through the fields with our various cultivating tools. Fewer weeds in our fields means more Early Season produce is right around the corner and sets us up for a prosperous Main Season!