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Published October 07, 2013, 09:53 AM

Late first frost grazes region; crops too mature to notice

A near hard freeze hit much of the Devils Lake Basin early Sunday, but it was later than normal for the season’s first frost and crops probably were too far along to be hurt, weather and crop watchers said.

By: Stephen J. lee, Forum News Service

A near hard freeze hit much of the Devils Lake Basin early Sunday, but it was later than normal for the season’s first frost and crops probably were too far along to be hurt, weather and crop watchers said.

“I showed 28 (degrees) this morning, but I don’t think we were there for long,” said Kim Swenson, the president of North Dakota Corn Growers Association who farms south of Lakota near Stump Lake. “But we had frost on the grass.”

Near Cando and Langdon, it went below freezing just after midnight Saturday and was down to 28 degrees by about 5 a.m., Sunday and was that low for one to two hours. The temperature didn’t get above freezing until about 8:30 a.m., said Tom Grafenauer, of the National Weather Service’s office in Grand Forks. That’s close to a hard freeze, or just a whisker above it and shorter than a real killing frost, he said.

Pembina got down to 29 degrees, Grafton to 30, the Grand Forks Air Force Base hit 31 and Cooperstown, Cavalier and Hallock, Minn., reached 32 degrees early Sunday.

“It was not a widespread hard freeze,” Grafenauer said.

The low at the Grand Forks International Airport was 34 degrees, at the weather service office in Grand Forks, just west of Interstate 29, it hit 35 degrees and Crookston reported a low of 37 degrees about dawn Sunday, he said.

Swenson said the tardy freeze will help more than it hurts any crops.

“Actually, the frost will be beneficial for beans. There’s some that still had green vines, and it will take care of that, so they will go through the combine better. The beans were all pretty mature.”

The corn crop, even though it was planted late this spring - a month or more later than the very early 2012 crop - caught up well with warm, dry weather in late summer and enough rain later, and now delayed first frost, Swenson said.

“The middle of September is usually our normal (first) frost days,” Swenson said.

He’s about two weeks from corn harvest and the crop looks to be average or better, Swenson said.

The freeze likely will help dry down the crop, helping harvest, he said.

Most of American Crystal Sugar’s piling stations remained closed Sunday because of the wet conditions since Thursday, with plans for most sites to begin operations again Monday, according to the company’s website. Most harvest activity in American Crystal’s Drayton, N.D., district kept going, as little rain fell in that region.

Little of the sunflower crop has been harvested in North Dakota and a portion of the soybean and dry edible bean crops remains in the field, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly report.

Swenson said his farm received about 1.4 inch of rain from Thursday into Sunday morning, making the soil moisture situation “pretty fair.”

From Thursday through Sunday morning across northeast North Dakota: Grand Forks received 0.9 inch, while a reporting site one mile southeast of the city received 1.21 inch; Inkster, about 40 miles west of Grand Forks received 1.08 inch, Mayville received 1.42 inch and a site nine miles southwest of Lankin, in Walsh County, received 0.88 inch, according to the weather service.

In northwest Minnesota: a site one mile northeast of Crookston reported 0.92 inch, Fosston 0.78 inch, Mahnomen, 1.11 inch, Kennedy 0.3 inch, a site five miles northeast of Bemidji had 0.86 inch, a site seven miles northwest of Warren, 0.83 inch, Grygla had 0.58 inch, Argyle 0.69 inch and a site eight miles north of Roosevelt in Lake of the Woods County, 0.63 inch; Greenbush received 0.35 inch and Warroad 0.61 inch.

Despite 0.77 inch of rain already this month, which is 0.33 above normal by Oct. 6, Grand Forks’ airport remains 0.75 inch below normal for the year with 16.97 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1, according to the weather service. That is 2.68 inches more than last year by Oct. 6.

The coming week appears to offer quiet, mostly dry weather, with temperatures normal or above, Grafenauer said. The high Sunday in Grand Forks was 63 degrees and the low Monday morning will be about 40 degrees, he said.