Focus on Ag: Planting progress improved in some areas

Kent Thiesse
Farm Management Analyst
Kent Thiesse

Spring 2022 has been a battle for crop producers in many portions of the Upper Midwest, as they have tried to get corn and soybeans planted on a timely basis.

Some favorable weather conditions during last week of May and the first few days of June allowed for significant planting progress in the many areas; however, there is still a significant amount of corn and soybeans remaining to be planted in North Dakota, as well as in portions of Central and Northwest Minnesota.

Frequent rainfall events from late April through most of May has resulted in the serious planting delays across this region. In addition, excessive rainfall and flooding also resulted in poor germination and drown-out damage in some fields that were previously planted.

Total rainfall amounts across the Upper Midwest during the month of May were quite variable; however, most areas of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota received above average rainfall during the month. Some portions of North Dakota and the northern two-thirds of Minnesota as well as adjoining areas of South Dakota recorded as much as 7-9 inches of rainfall or more during May. This has resulted in delayed planting, as well as some standing water, in portions of the region.

In areas that received more moderate amounts of precipitation during May, planting progress and crop development have advanced further.

Based on the May 31 USDA Crop Progress Report, 86% of corn in the U.S. was planted, which is nearly the same as the five-year (2017-2021) average of 87% planted. This was a remarkable recovery, considering that U.S. corn planting progress was only 49% on May 16, which was about 20% behind normal.

The May 31 report showed that States such as Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin were either at normal or above-normal corn planting progress levels after being well behind normal in mid-May. The same would be true for the southern one-third of Minnesota as well as in South Dakota, which had 86% of the corn planted by May 31, compared to only 31% planted on May 16.

The two states with slowest corn planting progress on May 31 were North Dakota at only 56%, compared to a normal of 83% planted, and Minnesota with 82% planted, compared to a normal 92% planted.

However, both states made a remarkable recovery from the corn planting progress on May 16, when the percent of the corn planted was only 4% in North Dakota and 35% in Minnesota. Some additional planting progress was likely made during the first few days of June.

Many of the remaining corn acres to be planted in North Dakota and the northern half of Minnesota could be very difficult to plant due to the continued wet field conditions.

The May 31 USDA report indicated that 66% of the anticipated U.S. soybean acreage was planted, which was also very near the 5-year (2017-2021) average of 67% by that date.

Similar to corn, the May 31st report showed that the largest planting progress deficits were in North Dakota with only 23% of the soybeans planted, compared to a five-year average of 70%, and Minnesota with 55%, compared to the 5-year average of 80%. South Dakota was only slightly behind normal with 61% of the soybeans planted by May 31, compared to a five-year average of 64%.

Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin were either at or above normal for soybean planting progress as of May 31.

Based on data in the March 30 USDA Planting Intentions Report, it is estimated that there were approximately 4 million acres of corn and over 11 million acres of soybeans remaining to be planted in North and South Dakota and Minnesota as of May 31.

The big question with the unplanted crop acres is: “How many of the unplanted corn and soybean acres will actually get planted and how many acres will be put under prevented planting insurance coverage?” We will probably not get a clearer indication of the final corn and soybean planting numbers until the June 30th USDA Crop Acreage Report and the 2022 prevented planted acreage data.

Crop insurance considerations

We have now passed the “final planting date” of May 25 or May 31 for planting corn with full insurance coverage in 2022 for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and most of Wisconsin.

The “late planting period” for corn lasts for the next 25 days, which would extend until June 19 in northern Minnesota, most of North Dakota and South Dakota, and Nebraska. The “late planting period” for corn extends until May 31 in the southern two-thirds of Minnesota, Iowa and most of Wisconsin.

During the 25-day “late planting period,” there is a reduction in the maximum insurance coverage level of 1% for each day that corn planting is delayed past the “final planting date” for full crop insurance coverage. Following the late planting period, the maximum crop insurance coverage is 55% of the original crop insurance guarantee, which is comparable to 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 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 for corn or soybeans, 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. The potential insurance prevent plant payment could possibly be increased by 5%, if a “buy-up” option was purchased by the March 15th crop insurance deadline.

One factor that may affect prevented planting decisions are the Federal Crop Insurance policies. One provision requires farmers to have at least 20 acres or 20% of the total acres in an insured farm unit that can not be planted, in order to qualify for prevent plant coverage.

A majority of farmers in the Upper Midwest carry a crop insurance policy utilizing “enterprise units” to insure their corn and soybean acreage, which groups all acres of a given crop in a county together for calculating potential prevented planted acres and possible insurance indemnity payments.

By comparison, a crop insurance policy with “optional units” insures crops down to individual sections within a given township. The type of unit structure on a crop insurance policy can make a big difference when it comes to calculating prevent plant acres and potential crop insurance prevent plant payments.

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 planted 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.

For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst and senior vice president, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, Minn., at 507-381-7960 or kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.