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Wet spring means more prevented planting acres in 2019

Planting is running behind normal in the northwestern Corn Belt into Nebraska with the extremely wet winter and spring. Many fields are saturated, have pockets of standing water or are entirely flooded due to the bomb cyclones and additional rainfall the last few weeks.

Spring wheat planting in South Dakota has been running well behind normal and as of May 5 was at 19% compared to the 76% average and Minnesota was at 7%, verses the 51% normal pace. Some of those acres will undoubtedly be shifted to corn or other crops, depending on how late the season drags on.

Martinson Ag Risk Management in Fargo, N.D., released the final planting dates for insurance for spring wheat. In southern South Dakota, that date was May 5, while the northern half of the state and southern Minnesota its May 15. Farmers in the southern two thirds of North Dakota and central Minnesota can plant the crop until May 31 and for northern North Dakota and Minnesota the cutoff is June 5.

Farmers in South Dakota are also watching their optimum corn yields slip away. However, Larry Osborne, Pioneer Agronomist in Brookings, S.D., recommends farmers stick with their full season maturities in eastern South Dakota and even as far south as northern Iowa until mid to late May or they will experience yield loss.

"Long term research shows that full season maturities still continue to pay off even when they're planted a little later," he says. "So I continue to say somewhere around that 10th through the 15th of May for your fullest season products keep those going. After that, maybe ease up a little bit if you can."

Osborne says yield loss in corn does start after May 1 at a rate of about 5 bushels per week for most maturity groups. However, it is still dependent on the weather the rest of the season.

After the optimum planting dates for corn, some farmers will switch to soybeans, but others are already considering a prevented planting claim.

The final planting dates for corn in most of North Dakota and South Dakota, plus northern Minnesota is May 25. For southeastern North Dakota and South Dakota and the southern half of Minnesota the cutoff is May 31. For soybeans, the final plant date for the entire region is June 10.

Farm Credit Services of America held meetings in South Dakota to answer farmers questions and help them make the decision of whether or not to file a prevented planting claim. More than 400 farmers attended the sessions in Sioux Falls and Yankton. FCS Crop Insurance Officer Elly Daisy says they expect a large amount of claims this season and have been busy running scenarios for their customers because knowing their guarantees can make a big financial difference.

Farmers first need to determine if they qualify for a prevented planting and there are minimums.

"So on an optional unit, it's by unit and share," Daisy says. "You'd have to have at least 20 acres or 20%, the lesser of each crop in that section to qualify."

Farmers using enterprise units have an easier time qualifying for prevented planting. "If you are on enterprise, it takes the lesser of 20 acres or 20% across all of your crop practice in that county," according to Daisy.

Amy Martinson of Martinson Ag adds the eligible acres for each crop in each county is the highest number of planted and PP acres of the last four years, unless the crop requires a contract with a processor to be insured. For contract crops, the eligible acres are the number of acres specified in the processor contract.

The amount a farmer is paid for prevented planting is dependent upon their coverage level and guarantee.

"Take 100 percent of the guarantee, which is based off your 10-year average of APH (Average Production History) and then multiply that by the spring price," Daisy says.

For corn, the spring price was $4 and for soybeans it was $9.54. That number will result in the total guarantee.

"You're going to multiply that by the 55% for corn and 60% for soybeans if you do not have the buy up. If you have the buy up that's an additional 5% coverage," she says. For wheat, multiply by 60%. She says the buy-up to have extra coverage on prevented planting had to be prior to the known peril.

Daisy says every operation and actually every field may have a different scenario on how farmers are paid out. So they need to work closely with their crop insurance agent.

"It's not actually by producer, it's by unit. So you know every field or every section of ground is going to produce differently, so it's based off that 10-year history on that field," she states.

The deadline for farmers reporting a prevented planting claim to their crop insurance agent is within 72 hours of deciding to quit planting, but no sooner than the final planting date for the crop. Prevented planting losses initially reported at acreage reporting time may be denied.

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