The Super Carotene Carrot, Beta III

A new carrot contains three to five times the concentration of pro-vitamin A compounds (Alpha and Beta-carotenes)and is sweeter and better-tasting than the average carrot. Dr. Phillip W. Simon of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Horticulture and the USDA developed Beta III to help fight vitamin A deficiency in developing countries.

Vitamin A deficiency is the third most serious nutritional deficiency in the world (following total calories and protein). Hundreds of thousands of children become totally blind and many more partially blind each year due to vitamin A deficiency.

To test Beta III's performance in developing countries, Dr. Simon sent seeds to 31 collaborators, asking them to describe the carrots' adaptability, flavor, and appearance. Twenty five respondents found the carrot satisfactory in all three categories, four respondents were not satisfied with the shape of the carrot, and two respondents reported failure of the seeds to germinate, probably due to mistreatment of the seeds in shipping.

Beta III is open pollinated and self propagating, an important aspect of a crop intended for developing countries. It was derived from the USDA B951-1 breeding population. Parents of this variety were chosen for their resistance to the fungus Alternaria dauci, good flavor, acceptable market type, and high carotene content. They average 270 ppm of carotene, an increase of more than 90% over the 140 ppm found in roots of 951-1.

Dr. Simon plans to further improve Beta III's carotene content, its flavor, and to select for wider and shorter root formation; the preferred carrot shape in many developing countries. Dr. Simon and the other breeders expect to have another variety with 300 ppm total carotene in the future.

For more information contact:

Dr. Phil W. Simon
ARS/USDA Dept. of Horticulture
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI 53706