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Northern Plains potato crop is looking good with harvest on the horizon

“It’s hard to find a bad field. Things look excellent,” said Sander Dagen, a Hallock, Minnesota, potato grower.

A man in a blue shirt stands in front of a green tractor with a black tires and a yellow rim.
Donavon Johnson, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association president, is expecting that North Dakota and Minnesota farmers will be harvesting a pretty good crop, barring an early frost. This photo was taken Aug. 25, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
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LARIMORE, N.D. — The Red River Valley potato crop has overcome getting into the ground later than optimal to looking like one of the best in the last few years, said farmers and researchers who gathered at Hoverson Farms near Larimore for Northern Plains Potato Growers Association’s field day.

“It’s hard to find a bad field. Things look excellent,” said Sander Dagen, a Hallock, Minnesota, potato grower. “In early June when we were trying to get things planted, it was hard to imagine we would have a good crop.”

Dagen drove about 100 miles from his farm in northwest Minnesota with his father, Justin to attend NPPGA field day. The annual event, held this year on Aug. 25, 2022, drew 185 northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota farmers, North Dakota State University Extension and University of Minnesota Extension researchers and other potato crop watchers, including representatives of lending organizations and the potato industry.

“It’s great for the researchers, the growers themselves and the industry,” said Donavon Johnson, Northern Plains Potato Growers president, during a break at the Larimore part of the tour. “Hoverson Farms is a great place to come and interact.”

Potatoes are on a table and in mesh bags.
Farmers who attended Northern Plains Potato Growers Association field day at Hoverson Farms near Larimore, North Dakota, heard presentations on varieties and research topics. This photo of potato varieties was taken Aug. 25, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

About 200 potato farmers are members of the association. The field day included research presentations, field tours and an opportunity for farmers to talk to researchers about which potato agronomic issues should be studied. Besides Larimore, the NPPGA tour included stops at the organization’s research farm near Inkster, North Dakota, and Oberg Farms, near Hoople, North Dakota.

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T.J. Hall, a Hoople potato farmer, like Dagen, was pleased with the progress of the 2022 crop. Hall is part of an intergenerational farming operation that includes about 1,500 acres of red and yellow potatoes grown for the fresh market.

The Halls planted their first potatoes in mid-May this year, about a week to 10 days later than they typically do, but favorable temperatures and moisture gave the crop the boost it needed to catch up.

“I think, actually, with our pretty ideal weather conditions, things have progressed along nicely with the potatoes," Hall said.

Besides good weather conditions, potatoes also flourished because the incidences of disease and insect problems were low or non-existent. For example, late blight, a disease that can cause severe damage wasn’t detected in North Dakota or Minnesota this year.

The early harvest of North Dakota farmers who grow for processors is underway and the main harvest will start in September. Growers who produce potatoes for the fresh market likely won’t begin harvest until mid-to- late September.

Men and women attend a potato research meeting in a farm shop.
Farmers who attended Northern Plains Potato Growers Association field day on Aug. 25, 2022, at Hoverson Farms near Larimore, North Dakota, talked with researchers from North Dakota State University Extension and University of Minnesota Extension about what potato agronomic issues need to be studied.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

Dagen, a seed potato grower, planned to begin harvesting his crop Sept. 10, which is typical of most years.

Potato farmers, like other row crop growers, are hoping for a late frost this year.

“We’re going to need a nice fall to get this (crop) harvested," Dagen said. After challenging years that were wet or too dry or had early freezes that reduced his potato production, that would be welcomed.

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"This is the normal crop we've been waiting for, for 10 years," he said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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