Crop Conditions Variable

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Across the southern one-third of Minnesota, nearly all the intended corn is planted, and 50-80% of the soybeans are planted, depending on the location. Most of the corn and soybeans that are planted in this region have emerged, and stands look very good. However in the northern portions of southern Minnesota, up in to central, west-central and northwestern Minnesota, the planting progress is much different. In many areas of these regions, corn planting is 75% or less completed, and very few soybeans are planted. Farm operators in these areas also had to abandon planting some small grain crops, and are struggling to finish planting sugar beets and other specialty crops. The late planting dates are likely to have a significant impact on 2011 corn and soybean yield potential in these areas.

At the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca, the average air temperature in May (as of May 26) was 55.9° F, compared to a 30-year average May temperature of 58.4°. The accumulation of growing degree units (GDUs) at Waseca as of May 26 was 235 in 2011 compared to a 30-year average of 267 accumulated by May 26. The total precipitation recorded in May at Waseca, was 3.83 in. as of May 26, with no daily rainfalls exceeding 1 in., but measurable precipitation being recorded on all but seven days thus far during May. The average precipitation at Waseca for the entire month of May is 3.96 in. Stored soil moisture is at or near capacity, in most areas of Minnesota.

 

Postemergence Herbicide Application

Most producers will be applying postemergence herbicides for weed control in corn and soybeans in the next couple of weeks. They are hoping for some rain-free days, with a minimal amount of wind, to provide for good spraying conditions. With the high amount of acres planted to Round-up Ready corn hybrids and soybean varieties, or similar crop genetics, a majority of the weed control in corn and soybean production is accomplished through the use of postemergence herbicides that are applied after the crop and the weeds are emerged and growing. By comparison, 10-15 years ago, postemergence herbicides for weed control were secondary to the use of soil-applied preplant and pre-emergence herbicides to control weeds before they emerged. In addition to giving crop producers better options and more flexibility for weed control, the move toward a higher percentage of postemergence herbicides has also been more environmentally friendly. The postemergence herbicides are generally safer to use and are much less likely to run-off into lakes, rivers, streams or tile lines, as compared to many of older soil-applied chemicals.

 

Prevented Planting Insurance Coverage

Most corn producers in the Minnesota and surrounding states have now reached the final planting date (as of June 1) for corn in order to receive full crop insurance coverage for 2011. After the final planting date, producers have basically three choices to consider. The first choice is to plant corn during a 25-day late-planting window, with a 1%/day reduction in the crop insurance guarantee. The second choice is to switch to a second crop, such as soybeans, and accept the insurance coverage on that crop, if available. The third choice is to file a prevented-planting insurance claim on the unplanted corn acres, and receive 60% of the original insurance guarantee. In order to file a prevented-planting insurance claim, producers must have a minimum of 20 acres or 20% of the insured acreage (if less than 100 acres) on a farm unit to qualify. The Final planting date for soybeans in most areas of Minnesota is June 10.

Following are some points to consider when deciding whether or not filing a prevented planting insurance claim is the best option for a particular farm unit:

  • All prevented-planting crop insurance losses must be reported to the crop insurance agent, before the producer takes any additional actions.
  • Producers need to keep good records and documentation of all crop insurance losses, and make sure that those losses are verified by the crop insurance agent.
    • Producers should review their crop insurance policy or consult their crop insurance agent to make sure that they understand all requirements, restrictions, etc., relative to their crop insurance coverage with late and prevented planting.
    • Producers need to remember that they are not forced to plant the intended crop after the final planting date, and are eligible to receive a prevented-planting payment on qualified acres, which is 60% of the original crop insurance guarantee for corn and soybeans.
    • Producers need to consult their crop insurance agent before planting a second crop, such as soybeans, on intended corn acres to make sure they understand all the crop insurance implications, and the potential affect on possible crop insurance indemnity payments.
    • Producers who are facing late corn planting after the final planting date should analyze the overall financial implications of planting corn late, planting soybeans or collecting a prevented planting crop insurance payment.
    • A producer’s crop insurance agent is the best source of high-quality information on late- and prevented-planting crop insurance coverage.The following websites also have some good information late- and prevented-planting insurance options: Iowa State University Ag Decision Maker, USDA Risk Management Agency.

Bottom Line

Every producer’s situation is different when it comes to late- and prevented-planting situations, as a result, the best option will vary considerably from farm to farm. In addition to differences in production practices and yield potential, there are differences in level of insurance coverage, optional or enterprise units, and other crop insurance provisions. The choice that a producer makes could result in a difference of thousands of dollars in the potential insurance coverage that is available. That is why it is so very critical for producers to consult with their crop insurance agent before finalizing late- and prevented-planting crop decisions.

 

Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.

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