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Published April 02, 2012, 09:35 AM

A boost for planting?

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The federal crop insurance program’s “earliest planting date” has arrived for most wheat farmers in the region, and that should spur more planting, provided the weather cooperates.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The federal crop insurance program’s “earliest planting date” has arrived for most wheat farmers in the region, and that should spur more planting, provided the weather cooperates.

Area farmers, depending on where they live, are assigned an earliest planting date, or the first day in a growing season on which they can plant a particular crop and remain eligible under federal crop insurance for replanting payments if the need arises.

The date for wheat ranges from mid-March to April 6 for most producers in the Upper Midwest, according to information on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency’s website. The RMA administers the federal crop insurance program.

The earliest planting date for wheat was either March 27 or April 1 for farmers in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, according to the website.

Wheat, a cool-season grass, typically is the first of the region’s major crops to be planted.

Officials with the RMA’s regional office in Billings, Mont., which oversees, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, say there’s no chart or table that lists the earliest planting date for every county in the region.

Farmers should contact their local crop insurance agent to find out the earliest planting date for the county or counties in which they farm, the RMA says.

However, the RMA’s website has a database that includes details of the crop insurance program, by county, for different crops. The details include the earliest planting date for that crop in that county.

A check of the database by Agweek found that the earliest planting date for wheat generally ranges from mid-March to April 6 across the region, with March 27 or April 1 common in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.

The RMA does offer a county-by-county listing of the final planting date, or the last date on which crops can be planted and still qualify for federal crop insurance. That reflects recent wet springs that delayed planting and made the final planting date a major issue for many producers.

Until this exceptionally early spring, there hasn’t been nearly the same level of interest in, or need for, information on the earliest planting date, according to the RMA

“That (the earliest planting date) isn’t something that’s been a concern. The problem has been getting the crop in (by the final planting date),” saya Erik Younggren, a Hallock, Minn., farmer and president of the National Association of Wheat Growers.

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