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Jonathan Knutson, Forum News Service, Published August 29 2013

Potatoes need rain, late freeze

INKSTER, N.D. – This spring was so wet that Mitch Jorde, a Cando, N.D., potato farmer, couldn’t start planting his spuds until June 4. He finished up on July 3. The planting period this year “was almost exactly a month later than normal,” says Jorde.

Jorde was among the 180 people who attended the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association’s annual Field Day on Aug. 22. The event included field tours and presentations by area potato experts in Larimore, Inkster and Hoople, N.D.

Many North Dakota and Minnesota potato growers have major short-term concerns about their crops. Like Jorde, they planted spuds late.

“Potatoes are 10 days to two weeks behind,” says Andy Robinson, North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota Extension potato agronomist and one of the Field Day organizers. “An early freeze would be disastrous.”

Rain is also vital, says Chuck Gunnerson, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, based in East Grand Forks, Minn.