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Cold, wet weather threatens potatoes in Red River Valley

Cold, wet weather threatens potatoes in Red River Valley

With low temperatures from last week expected to linger into this week, harvest is not looking good for potato farmers in the Red River Valley

October 16, 2018
With low temperatures from last week expected to linger into this week, harvest is not looking good for potato farmers in the Red River Valley, experts say.

About 20 percent of the fresh crop still is in the ground in the Red River Valley, said Ted Kreis, spokesman for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association.

Ted Kreis, spokesman for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association:

“We could easily lose 100 percent of what's still in the ground, the cold and wet weather, which came in last week and seems to be sticking around for a little bit, is especially bad for potatoes.”

“Once potatoes freeze, they're unsalvageable, they basically turn to mush in storage.”
And wet fields make it “nearly impossible” to get equipment in to harvest. Some growers are done harvesting their potatoes, but others are only half done.

Bryan Folson, president of Folson Farms, said his business still has 43 percent of its crop in the ground, and it is uncertain how harvesting them will go.

Bryan Folson, president of Folson Farms:

"It depends on how everything dries out, we're totally reliant on the Lord God Almighty for the weather.”

“It looked "tough" for growers with the snow last week”
But snow insulates the potatoes. When the snow melts, if temperatures remain cold, it could freeze potatoes.

When last week's snow melted, temperatures stayed above freezing, so Folson is hopeful that his potatoes are fine.

The resulting loss of crop would drive the prices the growers can charge up, but consumers wouldn't see much of a change at the grocery store.

Ted Kreis:

"Growers will charge more, but there's a pretty big margin, so there's room for retailers to hold price.”

“Potatoes are a spot-market item, meaning their price changes from day-to-day. So it still is too early to tell for certain what will happen.”

“We'll have to see, but I'm sure they won't get all of the potatoes out."
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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