MOUNT VERNON — Orange, yellow, white and purple carrots of all shapes and sizes were harvested this week as part of a research trial to test carrots’ genetic resistance to disease.

Plant pathologist Lindsey du Toit said that 220 breeding lines of carrots were planted in a research plot this summer at the Washington State University Mount Vernon Research Center.

She said the goal is to find varieties with the best nutrition and flavor, and that are genetically resistant to disease.

About a dozen volunteers helped harvest the carrots and sort them based on the severity of fungus growing on them. The fungus was added to the soil earlier in the growing season to expose the carrots to disease, du Toit said.

She said the research could help organic carrot growers in Skagit County.

Organic carrots are growing their market share of total carrot production, according to an article published by Organic Seed Alliance, which is helping with the research.

Other research collaborators are the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of California-Riverside, Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Du Toit said the plan is to leave some carrots in the soil to retain the disease for research next season.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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