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Jesse Morten looks out of his Huey helicopter atop a semitrailer as his son, Derek, prepares to load fungicide on the crop sprayer Wednesday in Larimore. The fungicide is being applied every five days to area potato fields to prevent late blight. Late blight has been found in potato fields in the Red River Valley for the first time in a decade. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Red River Valley potatoes hit by disease for first time in decade

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John Morten, who learned to fly as a boy of 17, provides a textbook example of how to keep potatoes safe from blight.

It's a big deal this year because, for the first time in a decade, late blight has been found in potato fields in the Red River Valley. The last time blight broke out in the valley, in 1999, it cost the potato industry in the region $125 million, said Neil Gudmestad, a potato plant pathologist at North Dakota State University who has been watching it closely.


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