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Shortage of carrots? Hurricane Igor and a drought didn't help

Bermuda grown carrots: Rowena Mello-Cann keeps her harvest of carrots ready and fresh for sale in this 2006 file picture. Bermuda does not allow the importation of fresh carrots from overseas in order to protect the Island from the carrot rust fly.

Supplies of fresh carrots are less than half what they normally are at this time of year, according to farmers and government agricultural officer, Tommy Sinclair.The dry spring and summer weather coupled with Hurricane Igor decimated local fields.“There’s always a high demand for carrots at Christmas,” said Mr Sinclair. “The farmers know that and they plan for it, so people should not blame farmers for the shortage,” he added.Carrot lovers often accuse farmers of not planting enough of the vegetable and not wanting to plant carrots at all.“Looking at the dollar value per acre, carrots are one of the highest yielding crop per acre,” said Mr Amaral. “The yield from a good stem of carrots is on par with potatoes and sweet corn.”And according to Mr Sinclair some farmers have invested heavily in the crop. They have bought precision planters to sow the seeds at equal distance to maximize output in a field, and also special carrot washers, so that the vegetables look appealing in the marketplace.To get an early harvest of carrots in Bermuda, farmers can start to sow their seeds in the spring.Farmer Roger Pacheco does that but the severe drought this year meant he lost most of that crop. He said a farmer’s life is working with weather conditions, and pointed out that he was going out himself and watering his fields of carrots at 11pm and then again at 3am.“The seed has to be soaked well,” he said. “I try to make the best use of water by watering at night and at times when the sun is low,” he added. He said he waters his carrots in three or four hour intervals.In September he replanted the fields he lost in the summer, but they were wiped out by Hurricane Igor.“As much as we try and stress, we don’t always get what we want,” he said. “It’s not only the customers who are disappointed when we don’t have carrots, for us, there is nothing worse than disappointing a customer,” he said.Farmer Junior Hill said he’s had to replant one field of carrots four times this year because of Mother Nature. In fact two weeks ago, he lost more than an acre of carrots in two days of high winds.“The salt came in and took them all out. I lost an acre and a half of carrots in Warwick,” he said.“Carrots take 110 days to reach maturity,” he said, “so when a field is lost it isn’t a quick thing to get the crop back.”There were carrots at most local markets over the weekend, and farmers who spoke with Body & Soul said they would have supplies right up to Christmas. But their yields are down so if you really must have carrots on your Christmas dinner plate, you better make it to your vegetable stand early or call your local farmer.