CAVALIER, N.D. — Water gushed out of drainage pipes into ditches as farmers across Pembina County worked to drain fields drenched by a weekend downpour.
Nearly 7 inches of rain was recorded in Cavalier Friday afternoon and evening as thunderstorms pushed through the area on Sept. 20. On Monday, Sept. 23, water still stood in rows of soybean, potato and edible bean fields near Cavalier.
“It’s pretty much a disaster around here,” said Curt Kirking, co-owner of Cavalier Bean Co. The rain not only will delay the row crop harvest, it also likely will reduce the quality of the pinto beans.
The rain splashed dirt on the pinto beans, discoloring them and making them less attractive to buyers, Kirking said. Companies that buy pinto beans for dry packaging don’t like to purchase them if they are stained a darker color, because consumers are leery of buying the pinto beans unless they are bright, he said.
Discolored pinto beans likely will be discounted when farmers sell them to bean companies , Kirking said. Meanwhile, a hailstorm that went through the Cavalier area a few weeks ago caused some of the pinto beans to shell out on the ground, reducing yields.
About 35% to 40% of the pinto beans around Cavalier remain to be harvested, Kirking estimated. Barring rain, farmers may be able to get back in some fields by mid- to late week, he said. However, there is a chance of rain six out of the next seven days, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks. If the forecast is accurate, it will be nearly October before farmers can harvest the pinto beans.
“We were done on the fourth of September last year,” Kirking said.
This isn’t the worst harvest conditions he has seen in his 36 years in the dry edible bean business, but it ranks among the top five, he said.
In the city, Cavalier residents still were cleaning up and drying out their residences on Monday.
“There was extra cleanup for everybody around town,.” said Lacey Hinkle, Cavalier mayor.
Many homeowners, including Hinkle, had water in their basements. It was the first time the rain ever came down hard enough to cause seepage, she said.
“We never had water in the basement. The previous owner never had water in the basement,” she said.
Besides the heavy rain, severe winds also caused damage in Cavalier, downing a couple of power lines and dropping trees on residents' roofs, Hinkle said.
While Cavalier homeowners were vacuuming water from their basements, farmers in the county were pumping it out of fields.
“We’ve been pumping since Saturday,” said Adam Oberg, who was watching water flow out of a potato field into a roadside ditch across the road from the potato field of his grandfather, Lloyd Oberg.
Several miles northeast of Oberg’s field, American Crystal Sugar Co. was pumping water off of its Hamilton piling station. The American Crystal sugar beet harvest is scheduled to begin Oct. 1.
American Crystal Sugar shareholder Patrick Mahar, who farms east of Cavalier, said he didn’t mind the rain because it was a dry spring and summer, but, it would have been more welcome if so much hadn’t fallen so fast.
“The rain is a really good thing. It just didn’t have to come all at once,” Mahar said. “This is the first time the coulees and ditches have run this year.”
Only 4 or 5 inches of rain fell in the Cavalier area the entire summer, Kirking noted. An inch or two more than what fell on Friday.
“The general area is around 6 inches,” Kirking said.