Mar 3, 2022
Read about this year's annual carrot harvest in El Centro and learn about our rainbow carrot variety breeding work.

This year marks the beginning of the final four-year OREI grant funding cycle for our Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) project. We kicked off the year as we always do with a favorite “work vacation” to the winter carrot nursery at University of California Desert Research Station in El Centro, California to harvest and evaluate thousands of carrots. Even though we’ve been going for nearly a decade, this week of carrot harvesting never fails to unearth new and exciting roots that pique our interests and imaginations.


colorful carrots
Mar 3, 2022

The recording and resources from this webinar, which took place on March 25, 2022, are available at

About the Webinar

Join us for a webinar to learn fundamental concepts and strategies that are key to successful carrot breeding work. The presenters will cover basic genetics, color expression, trait expression and selection, and demonstrate how to cut, evaluate, and select roots from a diverse array of orange and rainbow colored roots. Specific topics that will be addressed:

  • Which traits are straightforward to select for and which are not (more complex)
  • Strategies to tease out environmental effects from genetic expression
  • Basic color genetics - which colors are dominant and “easy to fix and work with” and which are more challenging
  • When to stop - traits that are very difficult or “impossible” to select out or away from
  • A word about male sterility - how it works in carrots (it’s naturally occurring) and what to do if, or when, it shows up
  • Root evaluation, selection, and storage
  • Funding for this webinar is provided by a NIFA OREI grant: Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture: Leveraging On-farm and Below Ground Networks.
Feb 2, 2021
New article featuring CIOA's soil microbial research.

CIOA collaborators have been working to better understand ways to bolster helpful soil microbes that can naturally protect carrots from disease. Take a deeper dive in this Morning AgClips article. (Photo credit: Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash)

Feb 2, 2021
CIOA's lead investigator Phil Simon sits down with Margaret Roach to talk all things carrots.

CIOA's lead investigator Phil Simon sits down with Margaret Roach to talk all things carrots. Listen to their converstation here!

Oct 10, 2019
Floral. Sweet. Crispy. Carroty. Discerning eaters know that carrots don’t all taste alike.

The CIOA project is working with a rainbow of carrots to breed new varieties with with fantastic flavor and improved nutritional quality. Our project partners at University of Wisconsin–Madison got to show off some of our carrots at the Farm to Flavor event in Madison, WI, last month. Read an update on the project and the event over at Organic Seed Alliance blog here.

Mar 3, 2019
Check out the Spring 2019 edition of Carrot Country magazine online for a deep dive into our research.

"...CIOA's main goal is to develop orange and novel colored carrots with improved disease and nematode resistance, improved weed competitiveness, and better nutrition and flavor. That's quite the genetic package, but progress toward releasing new varieties has been efficient – and relatively quick – thanks to the project's variety trial network that expands across the U.S."

Read the full article here (begins on page 4).

Jan 1, 2019
CIOA's lead researcher featured in this Gastropod all about carrots

Love carrots like we do here at the CIOA project? Did you know carrots were originally white?! They've come a long way to the colored carrot trials and breeding our research team is working on.

Check out this fantastic Gastropodcast episode all about these colorful roots and Dr. Phil Simon's work.

Listen here


Jun 6, 2017

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Nationally renowned experts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Organic Seed Alliance, and Purdue University will present a one-day classroom and field-based workshop on organic vegetable seed production. 

Participants will learn the fundamentals needed to grow organic vegetable seed, including seed biology, harvesting, storage and how to conduct variety trials.

Hosted by Purdue Extension, the training will be held on Aug. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Daniel Turf Center, 1340 Cherry Lane, and The Student Farm, 1491 Cherry Lane, West Lafayette.

“Participating in varietal development programs and learning how to produce quality seed will ensure organic farmers have access to varieties that are best adapted to their production system, and yield produce with high nutritional quality and flavor,” said Lori Hoagland, associate professor for Purdue Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

A tour of the The Student Farm and taste tests of advanced carrot and tomato varieties will be provided. A local chef will identify varieties that shine in the kitchen.

The workshop is sponsored by Purdue Horticulture, Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) and Tomato Organic Management and Improvement (TOMI).

Registration is $15 and includes lunch catered by The Juniper Spoon

To learn more and register online, go to

Writer: Cheri Frederick, 765-494-2406, 

Source: Lori Jolly-Brown, 765-494-1296,

Jun 6, 2017

Spring is in full swing and depending on where you live, carrots are back in our market booths. Needless to say, we’ve got carrots on the mind and on the menu so we’re sharing this delicious recipe developed by Chef Karl Holl from Let Um Eat for last autumn’s Variety Showcase in Portland, Oregon.

Enjoy and be sure to mark your calendar for October 2, 2017, to join CIOA at this year’s Variety Showcase, an annual interactive mixer hosted by the Culinary Breeding Network to build community and increase collaboration between breeders, farmers, and eaters.


Read more and get the recipe here.

Mar 3, 2017

This past week CIOA's Dr. Phil Simon led a research team to select carrot roots for seed production and breeding at his winter nursery in El Centro, CA (just north of the Mexico border). They selected roots from approximately 1,000 different populations, representing a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes for this season’s breeding efforts.

Read about the harvest and view some of the selected roots here.