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Published April 26, 2012, 11:52 AM

Crops appear OK after hard freeze

UPDATED 4:39 PM THURSDAY Crops in northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota don’t appear significantly damaged by a hard freeze on the morning of April 26, officials say.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Crops in northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota don’t appear significantly damaged by a hard freeze on the morning of April 26, officials say.

"I think we dodged a bullet," says Mike Rudebusch, station manager for the Cenex Harvest States grain elevator in Roseau, Minn.

Temperatures in his area sunk into the mid-20s, but newly planted crops hadn’t advanced to the point where they were hurt, he says.

Typically, wheat is the first of the region's major crops to be planted, in part because it holds up relatively well to spring frost. Corn planting in the area began in earnest during the week of April 23.

Temperatures in Grand Forks (N.D.) County fell into the mid- and high 20s, but crops in the county don't appear to be hurt, says Lionel Olson, extension agent.

“I think we'll be OK," he says.

Wheat is a hardy crop that can hold up well to temperatures as low as 25 degrees, he says.

It's much better for the freeze to have occurred now instead of in a week or so, when crops will be more advanced and more susceptible to frost, Olson says.

A few days will be needed to determine how much damage was done to crops in North Dakota's Walsh County, where temperatures fell to 21 degrees, says Brad Brummond, county agent.

“But my gut tells me it won't be too bad,” he says.

Temperatures fell the most in parts of the county where wheat fields were least advanced, limiting damage, he says.

Sugar beets safe

Sugar beet fields appear to have escaped damage, according to Moorhead, Minn.-based American Crystal Sugar Co.

“All the reports I’m getting tell me we dodged a bullet,” says Dan Bernhardson, American Crystal’s director of agriculture.

Temperatures fell as low as 20 degrees in the northern Red River Valley of western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, but beets there weren’t advanced enough to be hurt, he says.

Other reports also indicate crops avoided serious damage.

In Osnabrock, N.D., in the extreme northern part of the state, temperatures sunk to a reported 21 degrees, says Zack Schaefer, station manager for the Osnabrock Farmers Co-op Elevator.

But crops haven't advanced to the point where they were hurt, he says.

Crops in Minnesota's Marshall County don't appear to have been hurt by temperatures that fell to the mid-20s, says Howard Person, extension educator.

In North Dakota's Cavalier County, crops weren’t advanced enough to suffer much damage from temperatures that fell into the low 20s, says Ron Beneda, extension agent.

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