By Ed Lentz

Generally, at this time of year corn would have been planted, emerged, and have two to five visible leaves.

However, very little corn has been planted in the area because of the abnormally wet conditions for the past six weeks.

The first of June is a critical decision time for farmers on planting corn. Delayed planting will reduce the grain yield potential and there is a concern whether the crop will mature before a killing frost. It all depends on the weather for the rest of the summer.

June is also a time when farmers consider provisions in crop insurance programs. Most grain farmers carry crop insurance to reduce financial risk from weather events and disaster situations. In most situations, claims are made after weather events, such as drought, have significantly reduced yields during the growing season.

One insurance provision is called prevented planting. If weather has not allowed farmers to plant corn by June 5, they can claim prevented planting for the crop. Insurance selects June 5 as the cut-off date because the probability of success for corn has been greatly reduced when planted after this date.

Prevented planting insurance will not cover the full yield potential of the crop. The insurance payment will include the projected corn price and the production history of a field. The projected price for 2019 corn is $4 per bushel.

A corn insurance policy has a 55% prevented planting guarantee. The total acres of prevented planting corn can be no greater that the greatest number of acres of corn reported to the government in any of the previous four years.

A payment example for prevented planting with a production history of 170 bushels per acre and 80% full coverage would be as follows: 80% x 170 x $4 x 55% = $299 an acre.

To report prevented planting acres, a farmer would give notice on June 6 to the insurance agency. Next, the farmer would report the prevented planting acres to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. The farmer would work with an insurance claim adjuster to finalize the payment, which would generally be paid within 30 days.

The advantage of a farmer claiming prevented planting is to save on input costs. Most seed companies will allow them to return their unplanted seed corn. Fertilizer and chemical costs may be avoided depending on the 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, but it will affect their crop insurance. Insurance will reduce a potential claim payment by 1% for each day that corn is 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 insurance formula for 170-bushel-per-acre production history and 80% coverage would be: 80% x 170 x $4 x 97% = $528/acre (a 3% 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 farmers made plans to plant corn, they can switch those fields to soybeans without any insurance penalty. However, they have to consider loss of crop rotation benefits 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 cyst nematodes, seed and root rot diseases, and frog-eye leaf spot. Rotating with corn decreases the population of 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 used for corn, 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. If many acres in the U.S. change to soybeans, the soybean price will drop, particularly since there is already a large carryover supply of beans from last year. Corn prices may go up with the fewer acres, a benefit to those who can plant corn.

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 farm losses caused by the tariff battles with China.

It will be based on an unknown single county rate, multiplied by a farm’s total planting of a crop. Thus, a crop would have to be planted to qualify.

The heavy rains this past weekend will keep area farmers out of the fields for most of the 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.

Lentz is extension educator for agriculture and natural resources for the Ohio State University Extension Service in Hancock County. He can be reached at 419-422-3851 or via email at lentz.38@osu.edu.

Lentz can be heard with Vaun Wickerham on weekdays at 6:35 a.m. on WFIN, at 5:43 a.m. on WKXA-FM, and at 5:28 a.m. at 106.3 The Fox.

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