Deformed Carrots: 5 Causes and How to Prevent It

What Causes Carrots to Be Deformed?

Carrots are the edible taproot of the carrot plant aka Daucus carota. In a perfect world, our carrots are long slender straight, and tasty.

Sorry to inform you that this is not a perfect world, at times our carrots are mangled and misshapen.

Deformed and misshapen carrots are not necessarily inedible, sometimes a tad woody, fibrous, and not as sweet, but still edible, they are just ‘special’.

If it is a perfect carrot you desire there are a number of minor issues that need to be rectified.

Below you will find causes of these common carrot deformities:

  • Carrots Splitting
  • Hairy Carrots
  • Forked Carrots
  • Twisted Carrots

5 Reasons for Carrot Deformity

1. Poor Soil Composition (Cause of Carrots Splitting)

The first and foremost reason for deformed carrots is poor soil composition and improper cultivation.

Carrots that have to expend energy to grow through rocky and compacted soil will frequently split and become deformed.

The soil should also be relatively loose, not compacted. The less energy the plant devotes to forcing its way through hard soil the more remains for producing a quality carrot.

2. Grown Too Close Together (Cause of Forked & Twisted Carrots)

examples of deformed carrots

Carrots that are grown together in crowded spaces, bumping against one another as they grow may also become deformed as well as stunted.

Be sure to adequately space your carrots to allow room for growth at their expected full mature stature, spacing is generally listed on the seed packet for the particular cultivar you are growing.

Related: Common Carrot Pests

3. Physical Obstructions (Cause of Forked & Twisted Carrots)

The soil should be worked enough to remove any physical obstruction to root development.

Assuming your soil is not compacted, there are minimal obstructions in the soil and your plants are adequately spaced other reasons for deformed carrots are biological in nature, insects, disease, and the dreaded nematode.

4. Root-knot Nematodes (Causes Hairy Carrots)

examples of diseased carrots

Root-knot nematodes cause a slightly different deformity in carrots than that caused by compaction and overcrowding.

Carrots affected by nematodes appear hairy with galls and swellings on the main feeder root as well as the hairy capillary roots. In addition, nematodes generally affect a larger portion of the crop than just a few random carrots.

Chemical treatments for nematodes by small scale back yard gardeners is not advisable. Not only are the chemicals involved toxic they are also costly. Costly to your pocketbook and the environment.

Beneficial nematodes are the best treatment. They are predatory nematodes that will devour the ones that are attacking your plants.

5. Aster Yellows or Phytoplasma (Causes Hairy Carrots and Deformed Roots)

Aster yellows or Phytoplasma aster is caused by a bacteria that overwinters in perennial weeds and is spread by Leaf Hoppers. It affects many different plant species in the vegetable garden it can ruin not only carrots but lettuce, onions, parsley, and celery as well. One of the symptoms is deformed roots and hairy capillary roots.

The disease also reduces the size and quality of the roots. The carrots are malformed and develop many hairy secondary roots. Infected roots are tough, off-flavor, and lighter in color.

There is no control for asters yellows once a plant becomes infected. Therefore, growers must prevent the disease by controlling leafhoppers.

Related: How to Grow Hydroponic Carrots