The World Record Carrot Growers - Heaviest & Longest
Heaviest - 22 pounds 4 oz (10.09 kg) - September 2017 - Chris Qualley, Minnesota - subject to verification
Meet the World Record Holders for the heaviest and longest carrots.
Growing advice here:
Longest - 20 feet 5.9 inches (6.245 metres) - September 2016
Heaviest Carrot in the World
(record for longest carrot click here)
According to the Guinness Book of Records Joe Atherton created the World Record longest carrot record, a gigantic 20 feet 5.9 inches (6.245 metres) in 2016. Grown for the UK Giant Veg show Malvern. (Joe also holds the world records for Longest Beetroot, 7.956m and World’s Longest Radish, 5.023m! With this achievement Joe has broken his own previous carrot record, set in 2007, of 5.841 m (19 ft 1.96 in).
Joe uses 21 feet long plastic tubes to grow his giant carrots. These are in effect pieces of guttering tied together to make a tube. The tubes are filled with normal commercially available compost – Levingtons F2S – a free draining compost with a medium nutrient which is riddled before filling. No extra fertilisation is added throughout the process. The world record carrot was grown from the St Valery variety and took a total of 14 months to grow.
Joe grows other vegetables too, so from the 8 tubes he plants up, 4 are planted with carrots.
The ex-miner has also grown an impressive 23ft 7in (7.21m) long beetroot, a 24ft 7in (7.49m) long parsnip at his home in Mansfield.
The story commences very early in 2006 when the Great British Village Show in the UK contacted him to see if he could produce some giant vegetables for the programme. Planted in February, all went well but they were slow to germinate and three of the carrots ran to seed in June. So Joe was forced to take his sole remaining carrot to the competition heats in August. Sadly he was beaten in the heat as his prized carrot (over 17 feet) was damaged when two feet snapped from the long root. So a mistake actually helped Joe get to his World Record. He planted some more seeds in his tubes which were allowed to over winter in his tubes housed poly-tunnels in his garden.
The tubes which Joe has devised for this purpose of growing long vegetables are located at 45 degree angles to assist drainage, and have 10 inch slots (watering holes) made on the top at regular intervals. The plants are then watered from the top of the tube and the angle and water holes help the water to travel the full length. (picture right - Joe at the Harrogate Show 2017)
After the Spring of 2007 Joe examined his specimens and found they had, once again turned to seed! This time he persevered and spent his time productively nipping off the seed heads as soon as they appeared. And the prize carrot continued its journey down the tube and into the record books.
When Joe considers it is time to extract the carrot to examine the results of his efforts the tubes are split open and the root laid out on a board. Clearly there has to be a continuous root with no breaks. The next challenge is transporting the root from home to show. In this case The National amateur Gardening Show at Shepton Mallet, Somerset, some 175 miles from Joe’s garden.
The carrot was carefully cleaned by Joe’s wife, Carmel, and then coiled up and placed on a trailer for the long journey. The cleaning took 2 hours and that is always her responsibility!
The giant carrot took a whole 14 months to grow to its record length of over 19 feet. The judges only consider the length from the shoulder of the carrot to the tip of the very spindly root. The judge on this occasion was Ray Davies, who has to be able to follow the single root from one end to the other and double check for breakages. Guinness World Records are accredited at the show, so finally Joe was the new Record holder.
Joe knew deep down that he had a record breaker to his name and spent a couple of nerve wracking hours waiting for the judge’s decision.
Joe’s ambition now is to capture the other carrot record, that of the heaviest carrot. His best effort so far is a mere 13 ½ pounds!
One significant component in the success of giant vegetables is to have a good long variety and then strong fresh seed. He enters a total of 21 classes at the annual vegetables show, and has certificates for carrots, parsnips and beets. He currently considers the Flakee variety as his best chance for the heaviest carrot.
Of course like most people with a strong passion for something, Joe’s family think he is a little crazy, even going out of Christmas day to check on the plantings. As Joe says “It’s all in the preparation and attention to detail……… and a very understanding and helpful wife!!”
He has won countless rosettes, cups and certificates for his record vegetables and featured in the Channel 4 show “Half Ton Vegetables” which reported on the record attempts made every year at the Shepton Mallet Show.
Growing Giant Vegetables to break world records - a further insight into this "extreme sport"
The Giant Vegetables Championships are one of the highlights of the annual, three-day National Amateur Gardening show, which is held in a 30,000 foot long hangar in Shepton Mallet at the Bath and West Showground in the UK. It is the place where, annually, champions are crowned and hearts are broken. After months of growing they find out if their nurturing has paid off to produce the world’s giant vegetables.
There is no consensus about the origins of the biggest-is-best phenomenon (which regularly commands a whole page in the Book of Guinness World Records), but some assert that this all began at the Welsh Giant Vegetable Championship, which has been going for as long as people can remember .
Vegetable enthusiasts spend months cultivating their marrows, squash, pumpkins, carrots, beetroot and parsnips in a bid to break the previous records. Cultivating enormous vegetables is fundamentally a solitary pastime and at the top level there is a strong competitive element, but the overriding satisfaction comes from a sense of personal achievement: of overcoming all the hazards and disappointments inherent in trying to outsmart nature by making something grow bigger than it has ever done.
It is treated like an Olympic sport, with the same enthusiasm and dedication.
Joe Atherton, Ian Neale and Peter Glazebrook (shown below with his carrot tubes leant against the house!) are three of the most assiduous growers of giant vegetables, each holding several records.
There are 27 classes to enter in the giant vegetable section alone, as well as 66 classes in the flower, fruit and standard vegetables competitions.
It is not only the accolade of having grown a mammoth vegetable they take home, there is also more than £5,000 in cash prizes to win, though no one is there for the money. As soon as the show is over the growers race back to start their campaigns for next seasons record attempts, always striving for bigger and better.
Why do they do it? Cadres of passionate, yet obsessive, vegetable gardeners travel to halls around Britain, staggering under the weight of the distended produce of a year's dedicated sowing, planting, feeding and pampering, customarily undertaken in near secrecy.
But why grow big? Apart from pure competitiveness, there are other tangible reasons why some gardeners prefer to grow for bulk rather than quality.
The first is that size is an absolute, not subject to the aesthetic preferences and individual tastes of judges: the scales and the tape measure are the only arbiters, ruling out any suspicion of prejudice.
The second is the sheer scale of the challenge. The production of swollen or extended vegetables is difficult and all-consuming, requiring high levels of expertise and ingenuity, a quantity of specialised equipment, plenty of growing space - much of it under cover - and lots of dedication.
Indeed, to produce a carrot more than 19ft long - the height of three grown men - and get it to the show bench undamaged, requires military planning. Giant vegetables also lose weight and nutrients which add to the practical difficulties of transporting them to the show bench at maximum size and optimum condition. Many are covered in wet blankets to maintain moisture levels.
It is not a cheap sport with increasing costs of heating and lighting for greenhouses and polytunnels. Some say it is much more than a full time job, perhaps working 80 hours EVERY week. One grower admits to not having a holiday away from home for over 20 years.
The prize money - hardly ever more than three figures and often less - will scarcely pay the fuel bill for the heated greenhouse. Then there are the costs of the special fertilisers and composts and of transport to the shows. And don't forget the pots, barrels, piping, outhouses, cold frames and polytunnels.
Acquiring the seed is the initial seasonal outlay, and this too can prove expensive, as not any seed will do. World record measurements have been rising because of selective breeding.
The Guinness Records guidelines for the longest and heaviest carrots have been compiled with the assistance of Bernard Lavery, chief progenitor of today's giant vegetable cult and author of the book “How To Grow Giant Vegetables” and of course a long time record grower and now retired from competition (pictured right). The first rule is that only vegetables grown primarily for human consumption can be considered for a record. Guinness ask contenders to apply for a pack of information including rigorous guidelines and rules for inclusion in the record list. Naturally the rules are quite demanding and about 80% drop out at this early stage.
Clearly the accredited judges use professional measuring and weighing equipment. The secret to a record vegetable is the correct type and quality of seed and growing conditions and loving care. Now isn’t that simple? Of course mystery diseases and differing weather conditions all add to the trials and joys of growing the giants.
Long carrots are grown with the aim to restrict the growth to a single root, whereas carrots grown for weight the opposite is true. Carrots grown fro length tend to be set in good compost and just watered regularly without the addition of any extra feed. Heavy carrots are grown with lots of fertilisers in an attempt to bulk them out.
Growing record sized vegetables is a labour of love and while fancy watering and feeding systems with the ability to be remote controlled with refurbished laptops are capable of growing large specimens, nothing can match the combination of experience and skill of the human hand for true record breakers.
Guinness rules - “Measurement of length should be carried out by placing the specimen on a plain surface and my marking the exact position of each end. Then a straight line is drawn between the two marks and this length is measured accurately”.
The carrot has to be free from all soil.
The most important pieces of equipment for growing long carrots are length of plastic drainpipe or guttering. Some growers prop these up against a wall. , almost vertically, others lay them horizontally at an angle. The length and depth encourages extended root growth
The exact length and therefore whether it is contender for a record cannot be known for certain until it is removed from its pipe.
After the first couple of inches the carrot is no more than an elongated root, scarcely thicker than a piece of string and dangerously fragile. It can take 2 hours to carefully clean off the soil to reveal the prize specimen. Some advice on how to grow a long carrot here.
In this case the rule is simple, weight using digital scales and again clean of all soil.
These tend to be grown in barrels and of course every grower has their own formula for feeding, both the structure of the solution and timing.
Giant carrots are, for the most part, malformed being made up of tangles of roots emerging from a misshapen central lump. More effort is taking with heavy carrots to ensure they are well fed, with a variety of concoctions.
The current record holder, John Evans (since retired) developed his own fertilizers, bio-catalysts, and growing techniques that would take a whole book to explain. He uses a compost “tea” with nutrients, which he calls a treat that feeds soil bacteria and fungi, which in turn feeds the worms, which in turn fertilize and aerate the soil, which in turn delights the veggies. John modestly plays down the considerable man hours of care he put in to achieve his record giant. Some advice on how to grow a heavy carrot here.
275 Carrot Clarinets made and played at the Nederlands Klarinet Festival in Amsterdam on Sunday 10th April 2016. It was so much fun to bring all these people together, of so many backgrounds, ages and levels experience (many who had never blown a clarinet before!), to show that music is for everyone and we are all musicians! Carrot Clarinets based on a design of Linsey Pollak and music written and directed by Linsey.
Chef Hiroyuki Terada sets new carrot slicing Record - 88 slices 30 seconds. Sushi chef Terada takes on a daring challenge and put his culinary skills to the absolute test.
The attempt was for the Most slices of carrots sliced while blindfolded in 30 seconds – a record which should only be attempted by skilled professionals!
Previous record = 50. Youtube video here
Edward Lumley, aged 27, is now the proud holder of the Guinness world record for the ‘fastest marathon dressed as a vegetable’.
He completed the 26-mile course in two hours, 59 minutes and 33 seconds, dressed as a carrot and smashing the previous record set at the 2010 London Marathon by nearly 10 minutes.
Mr Lumley, who now lives in London and works for Transport for London, said he chose a carrot because it was the “most streamlined vegetable shape” he could find.
He said: “I always thought I could run a marathon and wanted to try something a bit different. I saw something about the record for running a marathon dressed as a vegetable and decided to try to beat that.”
Mr Lumley was one of five people attempting the fastest vegetable record.
He said that as he reached Canary Wharf, he was told by a fellow runner that there was a man dressed as a runner bean who was only a few minutes behind him. He said this gave him the encouragement to up his speed through the next few miles to shake off the threat and secure the record.
The race took place on 22 April 2012.
Chopping/slicing - James Martin, celebrity chef UK, holds the world record for carrot chopping in which he peeled and chopped 515g of carrots in one minute, during a Ready Steady Cook Children in Need Special. (Charity event)
Peeled and Chopped - The most carrots peeled and chopped in one minute is 591 g (20.85 oz) by Rosalia Addis (Italy) on the set of Guinness World Records Smashed at Pinewood Studios, UK, on 7 April 2009.
Rosalia is a chef at the Dorchester Hotel in London. She competed against Rik de Raynor, a chef working at the East Midlands Centre near Nottingham.
Most Baby Carrots Fit In Open Mouth (Female) 25! - Wilmington, Delaware - September 17, 2013 - video here. (CAUTIONARY NOTE - WARNING: Stuffing food in mouth can be extremely dangerous. Please do not attempt this record unless you are above the age of 18 and trained as a professional. Submissions in this category are NOT accepted from minors.
Carrot Chews - A.J. Jacobs New York, New York January 26, 2012 - chewed a baby carrot 96 times before swallowing it. video here.
World Record insect eats carrot!
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