Delayed planting might leave you with a difficult choice

Kent Thiesse
Spring has been a battle for many crop producers in the Upper Midwest, as they have tried to get corn and soybeans planted on a timely basis.

This spring has been a battle for many crop producers in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains states, as they have tried to get corn and soybeans planted on a timely basis.

Some favorable weather mid-May has allowed significant planting progress in some areas of the region, but a fairly large amount of corn and soybeans remains to be planted in portions of Central and Northern Minnesota, North Dakota and northern South Dakota. Frequent rainfall events have caused further planting delays in some of the hardest hit areas of the region, as well as leading to standing water in some fields that were previously planted.

Behind the planting curve

Based on the May 16 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Crop Progress Report, 49% of the corn in the U.S. was planted, compared to 79% in 2021, and a five-year (2017-2021) average of 67% planted.

States that were the furthest behind include: North Dakota with only 4% of the corn planted, which compared to a five-year average of 41%; Minnesota with 35% of the corn planted, compared to a 5-year average of 71%; and South Dakota with 31% planted, compared to a 5-year average of 54%.

States with over half of the corn planted include: Nebraska at 62%; Wisconsin at 61%, Iowa at 57%; and Illinois at 55%. However, all of these states were 13-15% behind the 5-year average planting progress for that date.

The USDA report showed that 30% of the U.S. soybean crop were planted, which was behind the five-year average of 39% of soybeans planted and compared to 58% planted by that date in 2021.

Only 11% of the soybeans were planted in Minnesota, which was well behind the five-year average of 47% planted and compared to 85% of soybeans planted by the same date in 2021. Other states with very limited soybeans planted included North Dakota with only 2% planted and South Dakota with 15% planted.

Soybean planting progress in other states included Wisconsin at 49%, Nebraska at 44%, Illinois at 38%, and Iowa at 34% — all of which were below the 5-year average.

Research at Land-Grant Universities in the Upper Midwest shows that it is still possible to get approximately 90% of an average corn yield with corn planted from May 20-25. However, the yield potential starts to decline more rapidly after that date.

Since a large amount of the unplanted corn is in the northern segments of the Corn Belt, there is also concern with the corn reaching maturity in a timely manner prior to the first frost. Some farmers are switching to earlier corn hybrids, provided that they are able to locate those hybrids.

Producers in portions of the region have also dealt with uneven crop emergence due to significant soil crusting following very hard pounding rains in the past few weeks.

Some drier weather in the past week in portions of Upper Midwest has allowed for significant corn and soybean planting in some locations across the region. The warmer temperatures prior to this past weekend and adequate moisture allowed for rapid germination of the later planted crops, and some very good growing conditions.

Farmers in the hardest hit areas are hoping for a nice stretch of weather in late May to complete the 2022 corn and soybean planting.

Crop insurance decisions

In the areas with significant planting delays, farm operators may soon have to make some difficult decisions should they continue to plant earlier corn hybrids or switch to soybeans, or if they reach the “final planting date” for crop insurance, should they file a prevented planting” crop insurance claim.

Farmers in western, central, and northern Minnesota, as well as in North Dakota and South Dakota, are dealing with very wet field conditions and delayed crop planting. Unless conditions improve soon, some producers could be forced to consider not planting a portion of their crops in 2022.

As we approach late May, producers in the affected areas will be evaluating their crop insurance coverage for late planting or prevented planting options, as compared to the yield and profit potential for late planted corn and soybeans.

In most counties in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, the “final planting date” for corn planting with full insurance coverage is May 25.

In that same region, the “late planting period” for corn lasts for the next 25 days, which would be from May 26 to June 19, with a reduction in the maximum insurance coverage level of 1% for each day that corn planting is delayed past May 25.

The “final planting date” for full crop insurance coverage for corn is May 31 in the southern two-thirds of Minnesota, all of Iowa, most of Wisconsin and a few counties in both southeast South Dakota and North Dakota. The “late planting period” in these areas extends from June 1 to 25. Following the late planting period, the maximum crop insurance coverage is 55% of the original crop insurance guarantee, which is the same as the insurance compensation for “prevented planted” crop acres.

For soybeans, the “final planting date” is June 10 in all of Minnesota and Nebraska, eastern North Dakota and South Dakota and the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin, with the late planting period extending 25 days until July 5.

The final soybean planting date in Iowa and the southern one-third of Wisconsin is June 15, with a late planting period lasting until July 10. As with corn, there is reduction of 1% per day in the maximum insurance coverage during the late planting period, with 60% maximum insurance coverage after that period.

Once the crop insurance “final planting date” for corn or soybeans has been reached, farm operators can opt to take the prevented planting insurance coverage, if they have that coverage option, rather than planting the crop.

A large majority of producers in the Upper Midwest carry Revenue Protection crop insurance with prevented planting coverage on their corn and soybeans. If they choose the prevented planting coverage, they will receive 55% of their original crop insurance guarantee for corn and 60% for soybeans on a specific farm unit, which can be increased by 5% if a “buy-up” option was purchased by the March 15 crop insurance deadline.

Producers should contact their crop insurance agent for more details on final planting dates and prevented planting options with various crop insurance policies, before making a final decision on prevented planting. The prevented plated acres need to be reported to their crop insurance agent. The USDA Risk Management Agency has some very good crop insurance fact sheets and prevented planting information available on their website.

Kent Thiesse

Kent Thiesse is a farm management analyst and senior vice president of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, Minn.