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Farmers facing extreme winds, wildfires searching for answers and moisture

A pair Western Corn Belt farmers say they’re left with few solutions to start the growing season after extreme winds and wildfires destroyed cropland.

South Central Nebraska farmer Tim Rowe tells Brownfield his priority is to irrigate and not disturb the soil. “We’ve got to get this wind stop somehow to let any type of vegetation start whatsoever and then we can continue to go on from there,” he says. But, I don’t think this wind is going to stop until we get a rain event.”

Rowe, who farms near Elwood, says planting will need to begin soon. “That plan has changed five times a day for the last four days. My initial reaction was to get oats planted right away, but then by the time the oats get up there, I’d like to get corn and soybeans planted and then I’ll be burning the oats up before I ever get started.”

Jan TenBensel of Cambridge says he’s facing the same issue. “The biggest challenge we’re going to have is getting cover back on this ground. How do we get a crop to start with the winds blowing like this and we don’t get any moisture to get started? How do we get a cover crop or a cash crop to get going?

Rowe suffered damage from a fire in Furnas County in early April, and TenBensel says he’s still assessing damage from a separate wildfire this weekend in the same county. “We’re going to see the effects of this for several years.”

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