Jun 22, 2016Heavy rain hits Northern Plains potatoes
Heavy rain pounded the northern Red River Valley on Friday (June 17) morning causing additional damage to crops on fields that were already saturated. Wind and hail also caused some damage but excessive rain will be the big story when crop losses are tallied up in the coming weeks.
The North Dakota Agriculture Weather Network (NDAWN) site located 11 mile east of Grafton has recorded rain on 17 days since May 22 totaling nearly 12 inches including the three plus inches that fell Friday through Sunday. Other NDAWN sites in the northern valley have also recorded a lot of rain. Forest River had five inches last week and the Inkster site has recorded 9 inches in the past three weeks. The Minto area has also been hard hit.
This photo was taken Friday (June 17) about a mile west of Grafton looking towards the southwest. This same area took another inch of rain the next morning. Photo: TJ Hall/NPPGA
Potato growers say it is too early to determine damage, but it will be significant. How fast the water drains, crop maturity, topography and weather conditions will all be factors. Best guesses at this time are losses of 20 to 25 percent in Walsh and Pembina counties but some growers on the hardest hit ground say losses could easily top 50 percent.
Fortunately with the bad comes some good. The spotty nature of thunderstorms will leave some fields in very good condition. The rain has been much lighter but adequate around Grand Forks and to the south. Areas farther south could actually use more rain. The Fargo area has had less than an inch of rain in June, Sabin, Minnesota has received only two-thirds of an inch.
The upcoming week looks cooler and mostly dry with the exception of a good chance of thunderstorms tomorrow.
— By Ted Kreis, NPPGA Communications