Mostly sunny and dry weather has allowed North Dakota and Minnesota potato farmers to make good progress harvesting their 2021 potato crop.

The harvest in northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, combined, was about 75% complete as of Tuesday, Oct. 5, said Ted Kreis, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association marketing director.

In North Dakota, 61% of the potatoes had been harvested as of Sunday, Oct. 3, National Agricultural Statistics Service-North Dakota said. Seventy-three percent of the potatoes in Minnesota had been harvested by Sunday, according to National Agricultural Statistics-Minnesota.

Walsh County, North Dakota, farmers had harvested from 40% to 50% of their potato crop as of Tuesday, Oct. 5, said Brad Brummond, North Dakota State University Extension Agent for Walsh County, noting that harvest had been progressing well until the first several days of October when the warm spell forced farmers to shut down in the afternoons. Potatoes that are warm spoil in storage.

Overall, though, the 2021 harvest has been going smoothly with few weather delays, and the forecast is for favorable harvest weather, Kreis said.

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Brummond said he doesn’t become concerned about cold weather conditions affecting harvest until late October.

This year’s northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota total dryland potato crop will yield about 20% lower than average because of drought, Kries estimated.

North Dakota farmers this spring increased their potato acreage compared to 2020 by 1,000 to 73,000 acres, NASS said. Minnesota farmers planted 44,000 acres of potatoes in 2021, 2,000 more than they did in 2020, according to the agency.

North Dakota’s harvested potato acreage in 2020 was 70,000. In Minnesota, farmers harvested 41,200 acres in 2020.

In 2020, North Dakota farmers’ potato yields averaged 340 hundredweight per acre, and total production was 23.8 million hundredweight, according to NASS. Minnesota farmers harvested average yields of 435 hundredweight per acre, and total production was 17.9 million hundredweight, NASS said.

The statistics services don’t separate the dryland and irrigated potatoes per acre and total production into separate classes, so the estimates are a combined average.

The value of the 2020 North Dakota potatoes that were sold was $261 million, $47.7 million more than the 2019 crop, NASS said. The value of the potatoes sold from the Minnesota crop was $186.7 million, which was about $3.2 million more than the value of the 2019 potatoes sold from the state’s crop, the agency said.

The average price per hundredweight in the 2020 marketing year was $11.70, $0.20 lower than in 2019, according to NASS. In Minnesota, the average 2020 marketing year price per hundredweight was $10.90, the same as it was in 2019, NASS said.