N.D. Grower Struggles to Complete Harvest

Published online: Oct 24, 2019 Articles, Potato Harvesting
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Source: Grand Forks Herald

One of the largest potato farmers in Grand Forks County, N.D., is in a race against time to harvest his crop.

Hoverson Farms had about 17 inches of rain and another 20 inches of snow since Sept. 1, and after waiting on muddy, flooded fields to dry, Carl Hoverson needs to get his potatoes out of the ground before temperatures drop too low.

Hoverson said this year's crop is one of the best crops they've ever had, but a couple of thousand acres worth of potatoes are still sitting in the mud.

"The bad thing is once they get cold, they won't fry really well," Hoverson said. "Once they start getting frost damage, then it's probably getting to be too late."

His crew has been slowly making progress, but their equipment often gets stuck. The farm is usually done with the potato harvest by Oct. 1, but this year the ground was too wet for the crew to get into the fields.

"It's just been consistently raining," Hoverson said. "Every three (or) four days it rains and we're shut down."

The farm has even paid its seasonal workers to stay to help with the harvest. This fall has been the worst they've seen in decades.

"It'll be the first year probably since 1983 that we wouldn't finish," Hoverson said. "I was hoping we'd finish but it doesn't look like (we will)."

Hoverson said about 60% of the potatoes have been harvested, and they will be lucky if they make it to 75%. However, the farmer knows he's not alone in the fight.

"This year, it's been tough for everybody. It's going to affect the whole region," Hoverson said. "It's not just one farmer."

"It's amazing that there are good enough people to hang in there," Hoverson said.