Jul 27, 2016Weather devastates crop in North Dakota
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.
Hail devastated potato crops in Pembina County (left photo); rain and hail claimed this field. Photos: NPPGA
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.
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.
— Ted Kreis, NPPGA Communications