Effect of Nitrogen Rate and Residual Soil Nitrogen on Yield and Quality of Carrots

in HortScience

Residual nitrogen (N) in agricultural soils is an environmental concern. Nitrogen requirements for carrots were examined over a two-year period in Ontario, Canada. Carrots, cvs. `Idaho' and `Fontana' were seeded into organic and mineral soil in 2002 and 2003 in the same plots. In 2002, N was applied at 0%, 50%, 100%, 150%, and 200% of current Ontario recommendations. Each experimental unit was split in half in 2003 with one half getting the same N rate as in 2002, and the second half getting no applied N. At harvest, total and marketable yield, weight per root, and quality were assessed. Yield and quality were unaffected by N rate in both mineral soil in 2002 and organic soil in both years. On mineral soil in 2003 there was a linear increase in total and marketable yield and weight per root with increasing N rate, with total yield ranging between 36 and 55 t/ha. However, in the treatments given no N in 2003, yield also increased from 36 to 47 t/ha between the 2002 no N and high N treatments. Consequently, a large portion of the increase in yield in 2003 on mineral soil was due to residual N from the previous season. Carrots are capable of taking up very high amounts of N from the soil over a growing season, but may only require additional N for maximum total yield if soil N content is low due to low mineralization rates or depletion by a previous crop. However, low N rates can reduce the ability to harvest the crop due to increased carrot leaf blight severity even when yield is unaffected.

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