Küttiger Rüebli

Crop: Dacus carota L. (Carrot)

This variety origins from Küttigen AG, where the variety has always been cultivated by farmers' wives. Since 1978 the Countrywomen’s Association Küttigen (Landfrauenverein Küttigen) has been taking care of the propagation and marketing of the carrots at the Aargauer carrot market. It is a variety with a white, conical root and an intense carrot taste. The leaf base is deepened between the carrot’s shoulders. This variety used to be sold on the Zurich market as animal feed. The countrywomen of Küttigen sowed the Küttiger Rüebli in spring into the autumn barley. After harvesting the barley, the carrots were chopped three times and then harvested.

Cultivation System: ND.

Geographical Information

Country: Switzerland

This carrot type was probably widely spread in Europe during former centuries, as there exist similar varieties that survived in other places, for example the carrot Blanche des Vosges in France. However, with the triumph of orange carrots, probably less and less of other coloured carrots stayed in use, until at the beginning of the 20th century such old lines only survived in a few places, like in the village of Küttigen. However, in the 1990’s, the ProSpecieRara foundation started to buy carrots in order to secure the variety by propagation in other places within a network of private gardeners all over Switzerland. Finally, the breeding and seed production organisation Sativa Rheinau took over the variety in 1999 and started to commercialise seeds of Küttiger Rüebli within Switzerland. Nowadays the variety is a common addition to the carrot assortments of direct selling farmers all over Switzerland, and it is even grown by farmers for supermarkets. Further, Sativa Rheinau is selling this variety to other European countries and even overseas. Meanwhile the original landrace line is still only propagated and used in the village of Küttigen.

Farmer(s) description:

The year 1978 was decisive in the history of the Küttiger Rüeblis. At that time the Countrywomen’s Association Küttigen became aware of the special carrots they owned and that they were hardly cultivated in the region. With a lot of knowledge and luck they managed to preserve the variety and promote the replanting of the Küttiger Rüebli. To this day, the association wouldn’t give away seeds, but propagate the landrace on their small field of half a hectare almost completely by manual labour. However, after buying some carrots at a market, for some years during the 1990’s the landrace was propagated by private gardeners of theProSpecieRara network, until the professional breeding and seed production organisation Sativa Rheinau took over the variety in 1999. Through commercialisation, the variety came onto the fields of professional vegetable producers. Those farmers first needed to learn how to adapt their production methods for the landrace carrot, e.g. by a wider seed distance.

Propagation system: Seed, cross-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

The carrot is a cross-fertiliser and is cultivated biennially for seed production. Crossbreeding with wild carrot is possible. At the beginning of the 20th century, individual families of Küttigen each planted a whole field and harvested together in autumn. Today, the carrots are harvested on a field outside of the viallge. Selection is done for white, medium sized, unbranched, strongly conical carrots. Every year about 50 selected plants come into bloom in a private garden inside the village of Küttigen, where wild carrots should not be as common as on the fields outside of the village.

Management plan existence:

The Countrywomen’s Association Küttigen completely relies on their own propagation of their landrace line, they would not give away seeds outside of the village. All the same, the yearly multiplication ensures a lot of seeds every year, so in case of failed harvests, the landrace can still be grown many years. Still, since the 1990’s the ProSpecieRara foundation has included the variety in their conservation network, in case it got lost by the Countrywomen’s Association. Finally, the professional breeding and seed production organisation Sativa Rheinau took over the variety in 1999. Sativa Rheinau since then worked on the variety and managed to select a carrot line of higher Brix content and better storage properties. Sativa Rheinau manages its own conservation breeding of its line. ProSpecieRara maintains a stock of fresh seeds from Sativa Rheinau within its seed library.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

Until the 1980s the ‘Küttiger Rüebli’ was mainly marketed locally in Küttigen and surroundings. With the beginning of commercialisation of seeds by Sativa Rheinau after 1999, the interest has grown at a national level, nowadays it can even be found in bigger Supermarkets throughout Switzerland. The landrace is primarily marketed as a raw product although it can sometimes be found pickled or dried the traditional way on farmers’ markets or in local shops. Local restaurants serve the pickled ‘Küttiger Rüebli’ together with a white sauce, black pudding and liver sausages or with apple slices.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

In order to promote and maintain the ‘Küttiger Rüebli’ and other local carrot varieties on the local market and as traditional varieties, a commission established the ‘Aarauer Rüeblimärt’ (Aarauer carrot market) where the ‘Küttiger Rüebli’ still is sold by the Countrywomen’s Association Küttigen (Landfrauenverein Küttigen). The event takes place in Aarau every year on the first Wednesday of November. The ‘Küttiger Rüebli’ has been recognised as part of the ‘Culinary heritage of Switzerland’.

In the 2010’s, a regional marketing and tourism initiative (Jurapark) started to help manifest the traditional carrot deeper in the awareness of people of Küttigen by supporting a small educational programme for school classes. Every year two school classes now experience the fieldwork on some key points during the carrot season from seed to seed. As the Countrywomen’s Association Küttigen is producing carrots mostly for their own needs, there is no economic pressure for success on the market. To the contrary, the society manages their traditional carrot growing and conservation work completely by volunteers and with financial support from the society or from outside.

Seeds of the secondary breeding line can be bought at Sativa Rheinau (www.sativa-rheinau.ch) and also at Coop Bau&Hobby as well as carrots at the grocery stores of Coop (seasonal). Otherwise, the Countrywomen’s Association Küttigen would not give away any seeds. But their carrots can be bought once a year on the ‘Aarauer Rüeblimärt’ market.

Contribution by ProSpecieRara, Switzerland.