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Early freeze could hurt North Dakota potato crop

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- The potato crop in eastern North Dakota is late and could be in trouble if it gets cold early in the fall.

North Dakota State University extension potato agronomist Andy Robinson says potatoes are 10 days to two weeks behind, and an early freeze ''would be disastrous.''

Cando farmer Mitch Jorde says he couldn't plant his crop until June 4 because of the weather -- a month later than normal.

Recent hot weather gave a needed boost to the maturity of some late-planted crops -- but Robinson says it hurt potatoes because yields and quality can suffer when temperatures rise too much.

Northern Plains Potato Growers Association President Chuck Gunnerson says rain is needed, to make potatoes grow and to make fields suitable for digging at harvest.