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Tough decisions mount as harvest nears

Jeff Caldwell 08/08/2012 @ 1:46pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Just like most of this year's growing season, this fall's corn and soybean harvest isn't going to be easy.

There are both unique management and agronomic factors to consider when determining how you can glean the most income from this year's drought-shortened crops. Do you file a crop insurance claim now or roll the dice and fire up the combine? If you choose the latter, will you be able to get enough of the light, sometimes downed corn to justify the expense? If not, will you be able to chop it for silage? They're all questions that demand a lot of attention heading into this fall.

"As long as everybody has their agronomist in the loop, they'll make the best possible decision," says Dereck Klaassen, Field Supervisor for Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company of Iowa. "If your neighbor's doing something, it doesn't mean you need to be doing the same thing to your crop. There's not going to be one silver bullet answer to help manage this crop we're going to be harvesting this fall."

Before you make even the first decision -- whether to file an insurance claim immediately or not -- it's important to get a thorough look at your fields. Don't just drive by. Much of the drought damage may not look as bad from the road, Klaassen says. Then, if you're facing an indemnity claim, don't wait. The quicker you get in touch with your crop insurance agent -- especially in a year like this -- the better off you'll be.

"People need to take time and get their crop insurance agent in the loop with what they want to do with their crops, keep records in an orderly fashion, and that will result in quicker payment and getting that check," Klaassen says. "There's not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody, but if you can get your agent involved and get the right people who can get into the field, you can get it completed as quickly as possible."

Right now, Klaassen says he works to get claims filed and checks cut in a 2-week timeframe, but says the window will likely widen to closer to 30 days once more farmers begin filing claims.

"The more organized a producer is, the quicker they'll get [their payment]," Klaassen adds.

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