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Weather Continues to Devastate Potato Crops in Northeast North Dakota

Weather Continues to Devastate Potato Crops in Northeast North Dakota

Examples of the damage done to potato fields in North East North Dakota: (Top:) A once promising potato field stands under water. (Bottom left:) A hail devastated potato crop in Pembina County. (Bottom right:) A potato field claimed by rain and hail.
(Courtesy: Northern Plains Potato Growers Association)

July 27, 2016
The heart of "Potato Country" in northeast North Dakota was devastated by baseball size hail that lasted up to 35 minutes last Tuesday night.

The worst hail damage was along Highway 18 from Mountain to Hoople in Pembina and Walsh Counties but heavy rain, hail and strong winds caused damage to a much larger area extending south into northern Grand Forks County and east to the Red River.

The Crystal, ND area was hard hit. Some growers that had previously lost 20 percent of their crops from heavy rains saw that number jump to as much as 80 percent. Property damage was also heavy.

A drive through the area on Thursday evening saw a lot of devastation, especially from excess rain. There were also some pockets that looked okay but the leafy canopy on closed rows can be deceiving hiding damaging water standing between the hills.

Andy Robinson, Potato Extension Agronomist at NDSU and the U of M says the pores on tubers open up searching for oxygen on wet fields only to let in water with disease causing bacteria.

Robinson says some hail damaged potatoes may be able to harvested depending largely on the maturity of the field and how fast they dry out, but yields will be greatly diminished..

Late Blight Warning

To add insult to injury, Robinson says with more late blight finds in western Manitoba, recent thunderstorms had a good chance of carrying late blight spores into the region. Once exposed, it takes five days to manifest and become evident. Robinson urges increased diligence scouting fields and recommends applying fungicides to protect fields from Late Blight infection.

So far, late blight has not been reported in North Dakota or Minnesota, although there have been at least nine confirmed finds in western Manitoba in the Carberry area.

The extreme northeast corner of North Dakota grows mainly fresh, seed and chip potatoes.

Some estimate as much as 40 percent of the fresh crop has been lost. This coming after a year that saw the largest fresh crop since the 1970's. Some estimate as much as 40 percent of the fresh crop has been lost. This coming after a year that saw the largest fresh crop since the 1970's.
Companies in this Article
North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, more commonly known as North Dakota State University, is a public university in Fargo, in the U.S. state of North Dakota.
The Northern Plains Potato Growers Association's mission is to promote profitability and unity of the potato growers of the adjoining states of Minnesota and North Dakota through the development and promotion of quality potatoes and potato products