Hail Hammers Potato Crops In North Dakota

Baseball size hail was reported last week in part of Pembina and Walsh counties in North Dakota. A little more than one month ago, the state had to deal with strong thunderstorms rolling through, with heavy rain and hail reported on the north side of the state’s capital, Bismarck.


As a result, potato crops in the area have received more than their fair share of hail. According to a recent Potato Bytes newsletter from the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association the rain, hail, and wind from last week damaged an area that extends through northern Grand Forks County and east to the Red River.

The Crystal, ND, area was hard hit, and some growers who previously lost 20% of their crops as a result of the rain, lost up to 80%, the Potato Bytes report states. Property damage also was extensive.

Andy Robinson, Potato Extension Agronomist at North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota said the pores on tubers open up looking for oxygen on wet fields. The result, however, is they let in water with disease-causing bacteria.

Adding additional problems, Robinson said with more late blight confirmations in western Manitoba, the recent storms could facilitate bringing late blight spores into the region.