Mystery white carrots stump Greeley gardener, local experts
November 7, 2009
Norm Fisher has a problem, and it’s an issue he’s been trying to solve for most of the summer.
Fisher, you see, has had white carrots pop up in his garden behind his central Greeley home, right along with the normal orange ones.
“I’ve been gardening out here in the same spot since 1973 and this is the first time I’ve ever seen this. It’s just the dangest thing I’ve ever seen,” Fisher said.
He’s searched high and low for an answer about why some of his carrots popped up white, but nobody seems to have a solution.
He planted his first couple of rows with seeds he had left over from the year before, and thought that might have been the problem. So he went and bought another package, planted them about three or four weeks after the first, and a bunch of them still came up white.
“They taste a little bit like carrots, but they just don’t have the flavor of an orange carrot,” he said. And, he added, the white ones seem to grow up out of the ground as much as they grow in, they are considerably larger than their orange cousins for the most part, and have a much larger leaf that, in some cases, have a seed pod at the top.
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“It’s almost like they’ve been crossbred with a parsnip or something. But they don’t have blooms, and I don’t think you can cross breed without blooms, plus I don’t have any parsnips,” Fisher said.
He’s taken samples of the white monsters to local greenhouse operators, who have been stumped, and he questioned master gardeners at the Weld office of Colorado State University, who were also puzzled.
Mike Hungenberg of Hungenberg Produce of Greeley, a family that has been growing carrots in the Greeley area for four generations, could offer only a couple of solutions.
“Carrots turn white when they freeze, but it hasn’t been cold enough for that. Carrots also do not do well in mulch, especially if that mulch has manure in it. Too much nitrogen will make a carrot turn white,” Hungenberg said.
Fisher said each fall he gathers up weeds, chops them with a lawn mower, then spreads them on his garden.
“A year ago or so I bought some steer manure that was on sale some where, but I put most of that on my lawn and around my apple trees. I think I might have spread a little I had left over on my garden, but I don’t think it was that much,” he said.
So, the mystery deepens.
“I’m beginning to wonder if one of those aliens from outer space visited my garden some night,” Fisher said with a laugh. “My motion light comes on once in awhile, but I haven’t seen anything strange out here.”