GRAND FORKS, N.D. — You’ve heard of a “million dollar rain” I’m sure, but that would be a massive understatement to describe the rain we received last Friday.
Fresh growers desperately needed rain to soften the ground to safely lift a promising red and yellow potato crop out of the fertile Red River Valley black soil; soil that had turned hard after several weeks of hot, windy and dry weather.
For those not familiar with the Red River Valley non-irrigated potato harvest, here is where the problem lies: When our soil dries out, it breaks into hard lumps when dug, these lumps beat-up potatoes as they are lifted out of the ground and conveyeded into storage. This lowers the value of the crop because of bruising. This happened in 2015 when growers were finally forced to dig before a hard freeze set in.
Rain on Friday was heaviest right in the Grand Forks area where gauges in the city recorded around 2.5 inches. The NPPGA Research Farm 3 miles south of Grand Forks recorded just over 2 inches with NDAWN stations to the north generally recording one to 1.5 inches.
The ground soaked up the rain like a sponge with very minimal run-off or ponding. Most growers were already digging just a few days after the rain.
More still needed – A small portion of the valley, from around Hillsboro south and east, did not get enough rain on Friday, but hopes are more will come this week with high probabilities of rain both tonight and again Thursday night. Even the northern valley could easily handle another shot.
Below is a rainfall map from NDAWN’s remote recording sites from midnight Thursday to midnight Friday (September 15th).
— Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
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