Little has been in done in area fields due to heavy rain and flooding this spring. (DHI Media/Rebecca Violet)
Little has been in done in area fields due to heavy rain and flooding this spring. (DHI Media/Rebecca Violet)

Generally, our fields are planted and crops emerged and growing at this time of year. Yet, very little corn or soybeans have been planted in Putnam and surrounding counties because of abnormally wet conditions.

This first week of June marks a critical decision time for farmers who plant corn. Delays in planting beyond early June generally reduce grain yield potential and cause concern as to whether the corn will mature enough before a killing frost in the late fall. Of course, this depends on the weather we receive for the remainder of the growing season.

June is also when farmers must consider provisions in their crop insurance programs. Most grain farmers have crop insurance to reduce financial risk from weather events and disaster situations like drought or flooding. Insurance claims are made when weather events significantly reduce yields during the growing season.

One insurance provision on the minds of many farmers is called prevented planting. If farmers cannot plant their corn by June 5 due to weather, they can claim prevented planting for the crop. June 5 is the cut-off date selected by insurance because the probability of success for corn is greatly reduced when planted after this date.

A few notes about prevented planting. Prevented planting does not cover the full yield potential of the crop. The insurance payment includes the projected corn price ($4 per bushel in 2019) and the production history of a field. A corn policy can have a 55-60 percent prevented planting guarantee. The total acres of prevented planting corn must be no greater that the greatest number of acres of corn reported to the government in any of the previous four years.

Prevented planting will not affect your yield history if you do not plant a second crop. A payment example for prevented planting with a production history of 170 bushels per acre and 80 percent full coverage would be as follows: 80 percent x 170 x $4 x 55 percent = $299/acre.

To report prevented planting acres, a farmer gives notice on June 6 to the insurance agency then reports the prevented planting acres to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. The farmer would then work with an insurance claim adjuster to finalize the payment.

One advantage of a farmer claiming prevented planting is to save on input costs. Many seed companies will allow farmers to return unplanted corn. Fertilizer and chemical costs may be avoided depending on their purchase arrangement. However, the farmer will have an expense in controlling weeds for the rest of the growing season.

Farmers may decide to plant corn even if it is after the June 5 cut-off date, however, it will affect their full coverage for crop insurance. Insurance reduces a potential claim payment by 1 percent for each day that corn was planted after June 5 through June 25. No potential claims can be made on corn planted after June 25.

For example, if a farmer planted corn on June 8, the guarantee insurance formula for 170 bushel per acre production history and 80 percent coverage would be: 80 percent x 170 x $4 x 97 percent = $528/acre (a 3-percent reduction for planting three days after June 5). Planting dates need to be recorded, as these rules apply on field-by-field and acre-by-acre basis.

Even though a farmer planned to plant corn, he/she can switch those fields to soybeans without an insurance penalty. However, farmers need to consider the impacts of a loss of crop rotation and the current grain economic situation. Growing continuous soybeans without a break with corn increases the potential for long term disease issues in future years, such as soybean cyst nematodes, seed and root rot diseases and frog-eye leaf spot. Rotating with corn decreases these pathogens.

In addition, farmers may not be able to return some of their fertilizer and chemicals purchased for corn. Soybeans do not need the extra nitrogen fertilizer and many corn herbicides cannot be applied to soybean fields. Also, like corn, soybean yield potential decreases the later it is planted in June. However, a farmer can still receive full insurance coverage on soybeans until June 20.

Grain price is another factor a farmer will consider before switching to soybeans. Government programs also add to the planting decision anxiety. The Trump administration has announced that there will be a 2019 Market Facilitation Program to offset farms losses caused by the tariff battles with China. It will be based on an unknown single county rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of a crop. Thus, a crop would have to be planted to qualify. There is also the Federal Disaster Aid Bill, which has been held up in the House of Representatives.

The heavy rains this past weekend will keep farmers out of the field for most of the coming week. However, farmers will have to decide this week on whether to cut their corn losses and take prevented planting, take on more risk and plant corn late, or switch planned corn acres to soybeans.

For more information on prevented planting and delayed planting decisions, please visit the C.O.R.N. newsletter at http://agcrops.osu.edu. Farmers not having access to the internet can call the extension office at 419-523-6294 to have a printed crop available for mailing or pick up.

For more information, contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, by email at scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu, or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.