Dakota Farmer

Northern Red River Valley has had up to 12 inches of rain since May 22.

June 21, 2016

1 Min Read

Heavy rain pounded the northern Red River Valley on Friday 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. 

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The North Dakota Agriculture Weather Network site 11 miles east of Grafton has recorded rain on 17 days since May 22 — totaling nearly 12 inches, including the 3-plus inches that fell Friday through Sunday. Other NDAWN sites in the northern valley have also recorded a lot of rain. Forest River had 5 inches last week, and the Inkster site has recorded 9 inches in the past three weeks. The Minto area has also been hard-hit.

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% in Walsh and Pembina counties, but some growers on the hardest-hit ground say losses could easily top 50%.

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, Minn., has received only two-thirds of an inch.

Kreis is the Northern Plains Potato Grower Association communications director.

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