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Estimate corn yields; understand crop insurance

By Staff | Aug 19, 2020

Losses due to weather are an insurable loss under multiple peril crop insurance. Crop insurance claims are expected to be large this fall, especially with the drought conditions in western Iowa. These losses will likely result from both corn and soybean yield declines in addition to a drop in the harvest prices used to calculate indemnity payments.

Until you harvest your crops, you won’t know the amount of your crop insurance claim. Now is the time to start checking your fields for yield potential, especially corn. In some fields impacted by drought expect to see ears with tip-back of kernels. While final yields won’t be known until the crops are harvested, plan ahead to keep good harvest records by field and by crop and stay in touch with your crop insurance agent.

Get out into your fields now to estimate potential yields. Randomly sample a few fields using 1/1000 of an acre or 17 ft. 4 in. for a 30-inch row corn width. Do some ear counts, measure ear length, and count the number of kernels per ear. An average bushel of corn would equal about 90,000 kernels. In 2020, expect to find higher than normal ear counts and ear length. This is primarily because of the early corn planting and deep rooting that occurred. This could result in slightly higher yields on average; except where drought, hail or wind were prevalent.

Iowa farmers planted 23.4 million acres of corn and soybeans in 2020. Approximately 90% of those acres have been insured using Revenue Protection (RP) multiple peril crop insurance. These insurance policies can guarantee various levels of a percentage of the farm’s average yield times the higher of the projected prices (average December corn and November soybean futures prices in month of February) or the harvest price (average futures prices during the month of October).The projected prices were $3.88 per bu. for corn and $9.17 per bu. for soybeans, respectively. Most farm operators then have a guarantee of their Actual Production History (APH) from 65% to 85% level of coverage. For corn, that’s often a $500 to $650 per acre revenue guarantee.

What should an insured farmer do once a crop loss is recognized?

1. Notify your insurance agent within 72 hours of the discovery of damage, but not later than 15 days after the end of the insurance period. A notice of loss can be made by phone, in writing or in person. Although loss is not immediate, farmers should contact their agent as soon as they feel a loss is present.

2. Continue to care for the crop using good farming practices and protect it from further damage, if possible.

3. Get permission from the insurance company, also referred to as your Approved Insurance Provider (AIP), before destroying or putting any crop to an alternative use.

Steve Johnson is an ISU Extension farm management specialist. Email sdjohns@iastate.edu.

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