Oct 15, 2019Rain, cold wreak havoc for Red River Valley’s potato harvest
Grand Forks has seen just under 10 inches of rain in the past three weeks, followed by a full-fledged blizzard right in the middle of the potato harvest.
There is little doubt that this will make it nearly impossible to get the entire potato crop in the Red River Valley region harvested.
Because of the Federal holiday (Oct. 14), the USDA Weekly Crop Progress Report will not come out until (Oct. 15), but based on last week’s report and reports from the field, we estimate that roughly half of the potato crop is still in the ground in North Dakota and neighboring counties in Minnesota.
NPPGA President Donavon Johnson has been working with the RMA, North Dakota and Minnesota congressional delegations, state officials along with the National Potato Council to emphasize the need to find ways to extend crop insurance coverages and find other programs to assist our growers.
The Red River and its tributaries are at record levels for late fall and are spilling over onto unharvested crops. Beginning (Oct. 15), the Red River at Oslo, Minnesota, is expected to top major flood stage and stay there for an extended period of time. It is expected to crest in Oslo at a level just two feet below the all-time record for any flood. With a saturated ground going into winter the freeze-up, the possibility for spring flooding in 2020 is also much greater.
Growers desperately need an extended period of dry, warm and windy weather just to get a portion of the unharvested crop out, but one look at the calendar will tell you time is running out.
— Report by Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
Top photo: Northern Plains Potato Growers Association