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Published May 25, 2009, 04:00 AM

Prevent-plant decisions pending

FARGO, N.D. — Farmers considering prevent-plant insurance need to stay in close contact with their insurance companies, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official says.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — Farmers considering prevent-plant insurance need to stay in close contact with their insurance companies, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official says.

Doug Hagel, regional director for USDA’s Risk Management Agency in Billings, Mont., says it’s still possible that North Dakota will see as much prevent-plant insurance claims in 2009 as it did in 1997, when some 3 million acres were left unplanted in the state.

Hagel says the major factor is general wet conditions left over from last fall and lingering into the spring. The phenomenon of unharvested crops, including corn left unharvested in the Red River Valley and elsewhere is one of the major contributors to prevent-plant considerations this year in places, as well as difficulty in getting fall tillage done on soybeans and other crops.

“Also, just the infrastructure is a problem,” Hagel says. “In some of these places, they rely on township roads. They might get the crop harvested, but if they can’t haul it out because 70 percent of the roads are damaged, that can be a real key” for prevent-plant decisions.

Hagel says farmers need to be “absolutely certain to keep communications open” with their insurance companies, as those decisions are made.

The should keep good records, including photos to use as proof of their situation. He says e-mails with photo attachments can be a good idea. Hagel says farmers should be mindful of the many deadlines involved with the prevent-plant decision.

For example, northeast North Dakota had a May 15 ending date where they could declare prevent-plant coverage if they had planned to plant canola. Then, they have a 15-day “late planting period” before they can replant something else, say wheat. There are three zones for prevent-plant dates for canola within the state of North Dakota.

But if they replant wheat their prevent-plant coverage is reduced to 35 percent of the original payment, with the logic that the farmer can expect income from the wheat crop.

Hagel says most of the “wait” periods for other replants, after declaring prevent-plant on other, are 25 days — not the 15 days with the canola, which is more sensitive to growing season heat, among other things.

The southern North Dakota prevent-plant date for wheat is May 30, while it is June 5 in the northern part of the state. May 25 is the final date for planting corn in the state.