Farmers in areas of northwest Iowa, who were already busy with harvesting duties, are now faced with the difficult task of removing tornado debris from their fields. Six tornadoes swept through last Friday night, destroying 21 farms in Woodbury County alone and damaging dozens of others. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.
Joel DeJong, field agronomist for Iowa State University Extension, says pieces of homes, grain bins, barns, and other material are scattered through miles of soybean and corn fields. “You can be in one mile (of a field) and you’re fine, and then you’ve got a couple of miles where the corn’s flat and the soybeans are beat up,” DeJong says. “Then, you’ll get on farmsteads where there’s a debris trail of a half mile.”
Volunteers, including area high school students, are walking the fields, picking up thousands of pieces of debris so farmers can safely finish the harvest. DeJong says if those pieces aren’t removed they could badly damage the inner workings of a combine. “At the same time, there are tires on this equipment…and most pieces don’t have to be that big to cause tire problems,” DeJong says.
When farmers can get combines in fields, DeJong says they’ll have to take it slow to catch ears that, hopefully, remain on the stalks that have been knocked over.
He says the harvest, for some, may take four times longer than usual to finish.