Initial, delayed and preventive planting decisions

The cool, wet early spring weather conditions means some corn and soybean fields will be planted later than normal. Producers might be wondering what options they have under their multiple peril crop insurance coverage.

Insured acres that have already been planted but need to be replanted, may qualify for a special replanting insurance payment. This assumes that the acreage was planted after the initial planting dates, which for Iowa are April 11 for corn and April 21 for soybeans, respectively. Replant payments are based on the value of 8 bushels of corn or 3 bushels of soybeans per acre, times their respective projected insurance prices determined in the month of February. For 2018, that is about $32 per acre for corn and $30 per acre for soybeans. To qualify for an indemnity payment under the replanted or prevented planting provisions, a minimum area of 20 acres or 20 percent of the insured unit must have suffered loss, whichever is smaller.

In Iowa, the crop insurance “late planting period” begins on May 31 for corn and June 15 for soybeans, but varies across the Corn Belt. The new “practical to replant periods” will run from May 31 thru June 10 for corn and June 15 thru June 25 for soybeans. Insureds might want to contact their crop insurance agent to make sure they understand the “practical to replant” provisions in their crop insurance policy since the ending dates have changed slightly for 2018.

Unplanted corn acres

Beginning May 31, producers in Iowa with unplanted corn acres have three choices:

• Plant corn as soon as possible with a reduced guarantee.

• Shift to soybeans with full insurance coverage.

• Apply for prevented planting. Qualified acres are insured at 55 percent of their original guarantee for corn and 60 percent for soybeans.

ISU Extension resources on crop insurance

More details can be found in the publication Delayed and Prevented Planting Provisions, File A1-57 on the ISU Extension Ag Decision Maker website. An electronic decision spreadsheet is also available to help analyze alternative actions. Insured producers should communicate with their crop insurance agent before making decisions about replanting or abandoning acres.

Establishing a cover crop is not required on prevented planting acres but is highly recommended. The rules set by USDA’s Risk Management Agency, which oversees the federal crop insurance program; do not require a cover crop. However, RMA encourages cover crops and you will receive a full-prevented planting payment — even if you choose not to plant a cover crop. The cover crop choices likely include oats, wheat, barley or millet.

Keep in mind if you plant any kind of cover crop and expect to receive a crop insurance payment for prevented planting, you cannot harvest or graze those acres until after November 1.

What if you leave unplanted or idle acreage?

Another option is to leave the unplanted or abandoned acreage idle (black dirt), but this is probably not the best agronomic choice. However, for some small areas of fields it might be the only choice. There may be some portions of fields in the river bottoms or low-lying areas where equipment cannot gain access because of flooded or continued wet conditions.

Expect most all Iowa fields will be planted this spring, but some acres may require replanting. For crop insurance purposes, portions of fields may be in the delayed planting or a replant situation. Regardless, producers should keep good records of planting dates and acres for both crop insurance purposes and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) acreage certification. Write down the dates you planted that particular crop, the number of acres planted and reference the farm name or number.

Steve Johnson is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach farm management specialist. He can be reached at sdjohns@iastate.edu.

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