SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The final planting date for corn has passed and the last day for soybeans is not too far away.
For growers with acres still unplanted, the question becomes, “Now what?” The prevented plant clause in most crop insurance policies offers growers a chance to recoup some losses, but navigating the options and restrictions of that path can be tricky.
“Don't be the lone prevented plant out there, when all of your neighbors where able to get their crop in, that's going to stand out,” said Mark Gutierrez, deputy director of the St. Paul Regional Risk Management Agency office, with the United States Department of Agriculture.
The final planting date for corn was May 31 for most of the state. For the northern counties, the final plant was May 25. The last day for soybeans will be June 10 statewide, except for four northeast counties with no program.
After the final planting date, there is generally 25 days that is considered the late planted period, but that does vary by area, crop and policy. Growers can still plant their crop during this time and have it covered by their insurance. They will lose one percentage point every day from their production guarantee
Again, if the field can be planted, the crop insurance agent is going to expect that field to be planted.
“Growers shouldn't have to go through extreme measures, like air lifting equipment into a field, but they might have to go over and out of their way to get access to the field,” said Gutierrez.
If a grower cannot reasonably make it into a field to plant, they have 72 hours after the final plant date to report the prevented plant acres to their insurance agent if they know they will be unable to plant or do not intend to plant during the late planting period.
A grower may try to plant during the late planting period, but at some point, it becomes clear those acres will not get planted. Then, they have 72 hours after it was concluded the acres could not be planted late to report those acres.
“You must report all timely planted, late planted, and prevented plant acres on your acreage report on or before the acreage reporting date – July 15 for Minnesota,” he said.
Gutierrez explains that the payout from a total prevented plant claim is a percentage of the guaranteed coverage established in the policy by the grower. That specific percentage can also vary from plan to plan and grower to grower.
“For example, suppose a producer’s insurance guarantee is $100 an acre, if the producer insures a crop with a 55 percent prevented planting coverage factor, the prevented planting payment would be $55 or 55 percent of the guarantee,” he said. “The prevented planting factor varies by crop and is based on an estimate of pre-planting costs.”
After making a prevented plant claim, the grower is left with several options.
The field can be left as black dirt or at whatever stage the grower had reached by the final plant date. Conservation improvements are allowed, but nothing is required from the grower at this point.
Growers may choose to plant a cover crop and still receive their full prevented plant payment.
“But do not hay or graze the cover crop before Nov. 1 and do not harvest the cover crop at any time,” he said.
Early grazing or haying of that cover crop signifies the grower was able to get a marketable commodity off those acres. The insurance company will be entitled to take back a percentage of the prevented plant payout – 65 percent.
Now a grower can plant a cover crop with the intention of grazing it or harvesting hay off of it. They just need to make that known to their insurance agent and take the smaller prevented plant payout – 35 percent.
There is also the option to plant another insurable crop. Growers can take the 35 percent prevented plant payout and then plant a crop with a shorter growing season. Depending on the crop and the coverage, that crop potentially could be fully insured for any problems later in the season.
“Most importantly, insured producers should contact their crop insurance agent,” said Gutierrez. “The agent can provide details on prevented planting coverage and how and when to file a claim.”