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Farmers able to breathe big sigh of relief as crop damage limited to tornado path

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Farmers able to breathe big sigh of relief as crop damage limited to tornado path
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Damage to crops from Friday night's tornado appears to be limited to the actual path of the storm, about eight or nine miles, along County Road 19 from near Priam to County Road 8 southeast of Willmar.

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"There is a lot less damage than you would realize," said Wes Nelson, executive director of the Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.

The storm that spawned the tornado did not include hail or torrential rains.

"The only crops that suffered damage were directly under the tornado."

Nelson was on the scene of the tornado damage Friday night, plus made calls for reports from farmers on Saturday morning, and found no reports of significant crop damage, he said.

The storm path was about 200 yards wide, and about eight miles along; thus, the affected crops could be limited to as little 200 acres, Nelson said. The soybeans in the path sustained the most damage, Nelson said, because the plants were cut off or damaged by soil picked up and tossed around by the tornado. The corn in the path was not affected by the flying dirt but was likely blown over. That could present challenges to farmers as they attempt to harvest the affected fields in the fall.

The biggest challenge facing farmers is the debris scattered across the fields. "The real issue is cleaning up the mess," Nelson said. The pick-up work will be easier in soybean and alfalfa fields, but could present greater challenges in the taller corn fields.

The pieces of wood and steel will need to be collected so that they don't damage farm equipment used to harvest or till the land. So far, county emergency management director Don Ericson has not received calls from farmers needing assistance with field cleaning.

The agency will be in contact with the farmers after they've had time to assess their need for help. Then the call for volunteers will go out, through local media and other venues, Ericson said.

"It's great that people want to volunteer," he said, adding that folks need to be patient with the process. "If there is a need, we will certainly make the request for volunteers."

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