`Betasweet' Carrot Designed for Flavor, Nutrition, and Health

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  • 1 Vegetable Improvement Center, 1500 Research Parkway, Suite 120, College Station, TX 77843-2119

`BetaSweet' is a new “designer” carrot that was conceived as a research project with the objective to create a new high-quality vegetable with unique characteristics. The gene responsible for purple or maroon color in carrots is a natural one and has been around for many years. Carrot breeders have discarded carrots which occasionally segregated to this color because orange has been the preferred traditional color. In 1989, three carrots grown from Brazilian seed were observed to have a blotchy maroon color mixed with the normal orange. Within two generations of breeding effort I had obtained a few carrot roots with near complete maroon exterior color and orange interior. The contrast of orange and maroon was very attractive in carrots cut as coins or sticks. The maroon and orange color would serve as the perfect way to identify and promote this new variety. Several additional generations were required using extensive laboratory testing for low terpenoids (strong carrot flavors), high sugars, high carotene, and crispy texture. Thousands of carrot roots were analyzed and selected for those qualities and for the dark maroon exterior and orange interior colors. The few best for those characteristics were intercrossed, and reselected for their adaptation when grown under Texas climatic conditions.

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