SCOTTSBLUFF — Farmers in the top 18 corn producing states continue to fight the rain and water-logged soil, with 58% finished with planting as of Sunday, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data released Tuesday. Planting is behind both the 2018 and five-year average of 90%. The delays in planting have lead to the highest point for corn since July 2017, with local markets rising to above $4 for the first time in two years.
The eastern corn belt has been especially behind with planting. NASS reports that Illinois is 35% complete, up from 24 in the previous week, but behind 99 in 2018 and 98 in the five-year average. Indiana is at 22%, up from 14 the previous week, but behind 94 in 2018 and 85 in the average.
Nebraska corn planting was at 81% as of Sunday, up from 70% the previous week, and down from 95 in 2018, and 94 in the average. Corn emerged was 50%, well behind 77 last year and 73 average. NASS reported that there were 2.2 days suitable for fieldwork last week.
Topsoil moisture supplies rated 0% very short, 0 short, 60 adequate, and 40 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 0% very short, 0 short, 72 adequate, and 28 surplus.
Final planting dates for crop insurance vary by state, and in Nebraska the final planting deadline was May 25. After that date, farmers can still plant during the late planting period, which runs until June 14, and corn planted during the late period can still be insured, but the coverage will decline by 1% each day that it is not planted. For example, a farmer who had a 75% coverage level who planted Tuesday would now be at 72% coverage because they’re three days past the May 25 deadline.
The National Weather Service in Cheyenne has forecast rain for the rest of the week with warmer weather starting Friday, and there is little chance of getting into the fields to work this week. Some farmers may want to claim prevented planting, which will provide coverage equal to 55% of the original production guarantee in their policy.
However, prevented planting carries a number of stipulations. Acres must be eligible for prevented planting due to an insured cause of loss; the tract must be at least 20 acres or represent 20% of the field; prevented planting must be general to the surrounding area; and the acres must have a history of being planted to corn.
“You have to notify your crop insurance agent within 72 hours of you deciding not to plant,” said Jessica Groskopf, extension educator for agricultural economics at University of Nebraska’s Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. “You have to be able to prove that during the regular planting period there was no physical way you could get to the field to actually plant that crop.”
Farmers can apply for prevented planting payments, but Groskopf said that the payments are not guaranteed. The payment per acre depends on historic yield and what insurance level a grower has selected.
Growers who planted before May 25 and find that they need to replant their corn should speak to their crop insurance agent first.
“Crop insurance will assist them with the replant, and they will not be docked,” Groskopf said.
However, yield losses later in the season due to planting late are another consideration that farmers will need to take into account.
According to Nebraska Farm Bureau Senior Economist Jay Rempe, farmers who take prevented planting will not be able to qualify for the MFP payments announced last week by the USDA to offset damage done by the trade war. The USDA is also not releasing rates for MFP payments, stating during the conference call last week that it does not want to influence farmer’s planting decisions.
Whether Nebraska farmers will be able to capitalize on the rise in market prices due to delays in the eastern corn belt is yet to be seen, Groskopf said.
“It depends on how the rest of the year lays out and how they market that crop,” she said. “It really depends on whether they have yield and if they were able to get it marketed to the best of their ability.”
With the return to corn prices, farmers with 2018 crop still sitting in the bin have an opportunity to get that sold and have some cashflow, Groskopf said, with some opportunity to market the 2019 crop.
“Hopefully, the weather straightens out and they’ll have the opportunity to harvest the 2019 crop,” she said.