Red River Valley Potato Crops See Millions in Damage
Successive nights of sub-freezing temperatures have caused an estimated USD45 million in damage to the Red River Valley red and yellow potato crops, writes the Grand Forks Herald.
The Red River Valley is the largest producer of red potatoes in the United States with North Dakota and Minnesota combined being the third largest potato growing region in the country. Potato farmers in the Northern Plains raise about 62% of potatoes for fry processing, 10% for seed, 12% for chipping and 16% for the fresh market, according to the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association.
Wet conditions during the past month delayed the potato harvest, leaving about half of the red and yellow crops, which are grown for the fresh market, vulnerable to frost damage, said Ted Kreis, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association spokesperson, who was cited by the report.
After three straight nights of low temperatures that hovered at either side of 20 F (-17 C) and with no snow on top of the crop to insulate it, it’s unlikely that the potatoes will be worth harvesting. That would be about 9,000 acres lost or abandoned, which is huge, according to Kreis.
Statewide, 70% of the potatoes in North Dakota and 92% of the potatoes in Minnesota had been harvested as of Sunday, Oct. 27, the National Agricultural Statistics Service said. Those numbers represent averages, which means that farmers in some areas have been able to get the majority of their crops out of the field and others, little or none.
For example, farmers, north and west of Grand Forks where it is drier, were able to harvest as much as 80% of their crop before the freeze, while farmers nearer the Red River, have harvested as little as 5%, Kreis said.
Farmers on either side of the Red River are among those battling the toughest field conditions, and some say this fall is the wettest they’ve ever seen, notes the report.