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Filing prevented or delayed planting?

A lot of rain is falling. As many as 14 million corn acres may go unplanted this spring because of all that rain.

"Questions are certainly justifiable about how much of that will be planted to corn, enroute to USDA’s March 28 estimate of just over 96 million acres," says Stu Ellis, author of the University of Illinois Extension's Farmgate blog.

For farmers with those corn acres left to plant, the sands of the hourglass may be running too thin to get all those acres planted that were originally in the cards. But if you have a multiperil crop insurance policy, you do have a couple of options. You can either claim prevented planting and let those acres go, or you can try to wait out the rains and plant during your state's "late-planting period," says Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist Steve Johnson.

"Beginning June 1 (in Iowa), corn producers with unplanted acres have three choices: plant corn as soon as possible with a reduced guarantee, shift to soybeans with full insurance coverage, or apply for prevented planting," Johnson says. "Prevented planting acres are insured at 60% of their original guarantee and must have a cover crop established on them."

If you choose the plant late with a reduced guarantee, be ready to document your planting progress from Day 1 of the late-planting period, Johnson says. That will go a long way to determine just how much insurance coverage you'll ultimately have.

"In Iowa, the crop insurance late-planting period for corn begins on June 1. Corn can still be planted after this date, but the insurance guarantee on those acres is reduced by 1% per day until the acres are planted," he says. "Corn acres planted after June 25 will receive insurance coverage equal to 60% of their original guarantee. Producers should keep accurate records of planting dates on all remaining acres. The late-planting period for soybeans is from June 16 through July 10 in Iowa."

Just be sure to check with your crop insurance agent for your exact dates. "Your prevented planting deadline depends on your state and in many cases, your county. If you are unaware of which group your operation is in, check with your crop insurance agent," Ellis says.

Also, USDA provides a handbook on prevented planting. Ellis recommends checking with your crop insurance agent first. "You can look up the answer to your question, or consult your crop insurance agent, which should always be part of the final action," he adds.

Dereck Klaassen, field supervisor for Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company of Iowa, says there won't be many farmers who file prevented planting in his coverage area of southern Iowa, but there will be more for farmers with soybeans to plant, especially if rain delays continue.

"It kind of depends when it decides that we have enough rain. If it stays as wet as it is for another two weeks or so, we are staring at the middle of June very quickly, and prevented planting claims will be a true reality," Klaassen says. "Everybody throughout the state is evaluating what they're going to do on their own operation and every operation is different."

Klaassen says to be sure you follow these protocols instead of trying to plant your way around the deadlines and still get all your acres covered. Doing so can actually create more problems down the road.

"I think that we will probably see quite a few producers who will wait to plant soybeans into the areas of their cornfields that have drowned out. By doing this, they are entering what we call in the industry a first crop/second crop situation. This situation calls for an adjuster to make a farm visit and appraise the acres of corn (the first crop) that are going to be torn up and planted to soybeans (the second crop)," he says. "I encourage producers who have questions about replanting, switching from failed corn to planting soybeans, or questions about prevented planting eligibility to speak  with their crop insurance agent."

Prevented planting deadlines

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Chart courtesy University of Illinois Farmgate Blog.

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