(301) Screening Carrot Cultivars for Adaptabilityto Growth in a Nutrient Film Hydroponics System

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  • 1 1Tuskegee University, Agricultural Sciences, Tuskegee, Alabama, 36088
  • | 2 2Tuskegee University, Agricultural Experiment Station, Tuskegee, AL, 36088

Tuskegee University is conducting research on salad crops as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) goal of supporting humans on near-term space missions, such as on the International Space Station. Small areas of salad crops are ideal candidates for growing in limited volumes, and would provide a source of fresh food to enhance the crew's nutrition. Baseline controlled environment studies were initiated to evaluate the response of eight carrot cultivars (`Baby Mini', `Nantes Touchan', `Danvers 126', `Kundulus', `Nanco Hybrid', `Thumbelina', `Early Nantes', and `Juwarot') to growth and yield in hydroponics. Seeds were sown in moist arcillite and transplanted into growth troughs (0.15 × 0.15 × 1.2 m) after 18 days in reach-in growth chambers, and nutrients continuously supplied by a half-Hoagland solution. Growth chambers conditions included 300 μmol·m-2·s-1 photosynthetic photon flux, 16/8 photoperiod, a constant 25 °C and relative humidity of 50%. Plants were harvested at about 80 days. All eight cultivars grew well in the hydroponic system. Seven cultivars produced greater shoot fresh than root mass except `Baby Mini', which showed the reverse. `Danvers 126', followed by `Nanco Hybrid' and `Nantes Touchan', produced highest root yields. The β-carotene content varied by cultivars. The highest level of 10,400 IU/100 g was obtained for `Thumbelina', followed by `Baby Mini' (8040 IU/100 g), `Juwarot' (6160 IU/100g), and `Early Nantes' (5210 IU/100 g), and the lowest by `Nantes Touchan' (3510 IU/100 g). These results show that while carrots adapted well to growth in hydroponics, carotene, a major nutrient, was at relatively low levels.

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