The Ottumwa Courier

October 8, 2013

Tornadoes scatter debris through NW Iowa fields


Ottumwa Courier

---- — MOVILLE, Iowa (AP) — If harvest time isn't busy enough, tornadoes that hit northwest Iowa last week have left some farmers with the extra task of removing debris from fields that could damage combines.

The Sioux City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1gntz6X ) that farmers like Lane and Kathy Tabke must retrieve countless items after tornadoes tore through the area last week, destroying their home.

The couple, who farm near Moville, said the tornado also blew parts of three grain bins, a stove, fuel tank, auger and a livestock trailer into a nearby soybean field.

"That's our stuff out there," Lane Tabke said. "We've got to get it out of there."

Otherwise, expensive combines used to harvest corn and soybeans could be damaged by chunks of wood and metal.

On Wednesday, up to 100 volunteers will walk through the field, picking up items. Many will be athletes from area high schools.

"You have to walk through the field," Tabke said. "We'll have the football teams from Woodbury Central, Lawton-Bronson and maybe Kingsley-Pierson out here helping. Along with other students, they'll walk with us and pick up everything we see."

Although cleaning mature soybean fields is difficult, picking out boards, nails and other items from tightly packed cornfields will be even harder.

The severe weather also damaged some crops just as farmers planned to harvest.

Joel DeJong, a field agronomist for Iowa State University Extension, stopped by the Tabkes' operation and said tornadoes twisted and flattened some corn nearby.

Farmers still might be able to harvest the crops, but they'll need to lower combine snoots as close to the ground as possible to scoop up the corn ears.

Lane Tabke said it won't be easy.

"You'll have to go against the way the corn fell," Tabke said. "And you have to keep going in that direction, maybe going 1 mile per hour. It'll take you at least four times longer, but maybe you can do it."

DeJong said farmers may have fewer options if their soybeans were damaged. He noted the storm had bruised some pods, and warm temperatures and strong winds this week could cause pods to split open, spilling beans onto the ground.

"It's heartbreaking to get this close to harvest," DeJong said. "That's the toughest to take."

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com