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Initial, delayed and prevented planting decisions

By Staff | Apr 14, 2020

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

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. Insureds will want to contact their crop insurance agent before replanting and make sure they understand the “practical to replant” provisions in their policy.

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 of $3.88 per bushel for corn and $9.17 per bushel for soybeans. For 2020, that is about $31 per acre for corn and $28 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% of the insured unit must have suffered loss, whichever is smaller.

In Iowa, the crop insurance “late planting period” begins after the final planting date of May 31 for corn and June 15 for soybeans. Note that these dates vary across the Corn Belt. For each day planting takes place after these dates, revenue coverage declines by 1 percent. Thus, the importance of a producer keeping good planting records.

Unplanted corn acres

Beginning June 1, 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% of their original guarantee for corn and 60% 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 (RMA), 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 they choose not to plant a cover crop. The cover crop choices likely include oats, wheat, barley or millet.

Keep in mind if a producer plants any kind of cover crop and expects to receive a crop insurance payment for prevented planting, they cannot harvest or graze those acres until after November 1. The USDA RMA can move this deadline to an earlier date.

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 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 the number of 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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