By Andrew Swenson
North Dakota State University Extension has developed a spreadsheet to help farmers make informed prevented-planting decisions.
“Most producers in the eastern half of North Dakota are still waiting for fields to dry out so they can start field work and crop planting,” says Andrew Swenson, NDSU Extension farm management specialist. “This situation can change quickly if the weather cooperates, and with today’s large equipment, rapid planting progress can be made. However, now may be a good time to evaluate the economics of prevented planting so a timely decision can be made if weather events further delay planting to the crop insurance final planting date.”
After the final planting date, and if several eligibility requirements are met, producers may opt to collect a prevented-planting crop insurance indemnity payment and idle the ground.
“The question is whether to plant a crop late and accept the risk of lower yields and reduced crop insurance coverage or to collect a prevented-planting indemnity payment,” Swenson says.
June 10 is the final planting date in North Dakota for soybeans, dry edible beans and flax. The final planting date for full crop insurance coverage varies by crop and geographic location. For example, the date for canola varies from May 15 in the southwestern part of the state to June 5 in the northeastern and north-central areas. For spring wheat, durum and barley, the date is May 31, except for the northern one-third of the state, where it is June 5.
The program uses partial budgeting to compare the economics of prevented planting with either late planting the crop for which a prevented-planting payment could be received or planting some other crop.
The prevented-planting indemnity is offset partially by the direct costs, such as cover crop seed, chemicals and fuel, to maintain the land that will not be used for crop production in 2019. This is compared with the income that could be obtained from growing a crop after the direct costs of production have been subtracted, Swenson says.
Two critical assumptions are the expected yield and market price if one seeds later. Producers run the risk of lower yields and quality. The analysis also considers crop insurance indemnities, which may be received if a producer plants the crop late and yields suffer.
“Fortunately, the crop insurance coverage level only diminishes 1 percent per day for the first several days after the date when producers can choose prevented planting,” Swenson says. “Therefore, if a producer still can plant a few days late, he or she still can have a fairly strong safety net and have the upside revenue potential if better than expected yields and market prices exist.
“There are other considerations in the prevented-planting decision,” Swenson adds. “Planting will use up soil moisture and lessen the possibility the ground will be too wet for seeding next year. Another reason to plant may be to satisfy a forward sales contract. However, late planting may result in lower yields and lower the actual production history that is used to calculate future crop insurance guarantees.
"If soil conditions do not allow seeding by the prevented-planting date, each producer should analyze the prevented-planting option and consult an insurance agent if unsure whether the acreage qualifies, what the payment rates may be and other details," he notes.