I have a 1957 model TO35 Ferguson and I cleaned my air filter tower a few years ago, dad bought the tractor in 1960, so I know the air filter tower had never been cleaned.
however, the oil bath oil had been serviced properly over the years.
I took the air box tower off the tractor and soaked it in a 5 gal bucket of kerosene for about 5 hours. Then rinsed it out over and over with clean kerosene until the kerosene came out just as clean as it was when I poured it into the filter.
let the air filter tower drip dry on an old wooden wagon bed for 1 day until no kerosene dripped out. Installed the air filter added new oil to the oil pan and fired up the tractor, might just be me wanting it run better after all that work, but yes I do believe it ran better, it had too because there was much dirt that washed out of that filter tower.
Just my humble opinion:
I would try washing it out first, all it going to cost you is some time and 5 gals of kerosene, if you are not happy with the results, then take that filter mesh out.
but be advised, I read more than one horror story of others taking that mesh material out and then not being able to get it back in, guess it just depends on your mechanical ability and the condition of your filter mesh material.
good luck and let us know how filter cleaning works out for you,