Keeping planting and hay harvesting on track during spring is crucial – doubly so for dairy farmers. Delays in planting corn and or soybeans can push back harvest of first-cutting hay crops. In turn, that reduces forage quality of that crop, and can reduce the number of cuttings for the year.
One tool to reduce that wet spring risk is the "prevented planting" feature in corn and soybean crop insurance policies. You have until the March 15 crop insurance deadline to sign up for this prime risk-reducer for 2013.
Craig Phelps of Edgewood Farms, Groveland, N.Y., relies on this risk management tool. "We had an extraordinarily wet spring [in 2011]. I think a record amount of rainfall in April and May put together," he recalls. "We didn't plant a kernel of corn until the first of June."
Due to the late start that year, several hundred acres of Edgewood corn weren't planted according to plan. Phelps calls the delayed and prevented planting coverage "probably the biggest value of crop insurance."
Prevented planting is included in all policies at 60% of the insured guarantee. Producers can opt for 65% or 70% prevented planting coverage for an additional cost.
In New York, June 10 is the final planting date for planting corn or soybeans for crop insurance purposes. Since the final planting date varies by state, check with your crop insurance agent. The crop can be planted after that final planting date, but will result in a lower pay-out guarantee.
In 2011, prevented planting payments were a significant portion of the indemnities paid in New York for corn. Of the approximate $17 million paid for corn indemnities, almost $11 million were for prevented plantings.
How it works
When excessive rain prevents field work, a farmer with any level of crop insurance except catastrophic coverage can use that final date to terminate corn and soybean planting. Be sure to notify the crop insurance agent in writing within 72 hours of the final planting date for the affected crop.
And, if you participate in Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs, you must report your prevented planting acreage within 15 calendar days after the final planting date to receive the prevented planting acreage credit.
Your cause for the delay of planting must be across the area where your farm is located and documented by a reputable weather service. Make that decision well before that final date, and contact your insurance agent to be sure there are no misunderstandings.
You'll receive 60% of the guarantee for those eligible acres not planted. Here's how it's figured:
Assume your farm's 120-bushel-per-acre corn yield and you chose a 65% coverage option. The 65% or 78 bushels times the projected $5.68 per bushel equals a $443.04 insured guarantee.
If you claim prevented planting, multiply 60% times the $443.04 for your preventing planting payment of $265.83 per acre.
Acres claimed for prevented planting payment can't be planted to a crop for harvest during the current crop year. You can, however, plant a cover crop or a fall-planted crop to be harvested next year.
Benson is a Cornell University Extension small dairy support person.