Following the heavy rains and severe storms in many areas of the Upper Midwest from June 9 to 15, farm operators are now facing difficult decisions with regards to replanting crops. Many locations in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa received several inches of rainfall during that period, which led to considerable standing water and drown-out damage in numerous fields. In addition, there was hail damage in some areas that damaged crops, which could also result in replant decisions, especially with soybeans.
Most producers will likely not be replanting corn at this late date, except for livestock producers who can utilize the corn as silage or high-moisture corn. Based on university research, corn planted in southern Minnesota during the period of June 5-10 has only about 50-60 percent of the expected yield potential, compared to corn planted in late April to early May. Corn planted later in June has even less yield potential. Soybean yield potential is also reduced with planting after June 1, but not as severely as corn.
Early varieties of soybeans planted in mid-June in southern Minnesota have a realistic yield expectation of 30-40 bushels per acre, compared to normal yields of 50 bushels per acre or higher. By late June or early July, the soybean yield expectations drop to 20-30 bushels per acre. The yield potential of late-planted soybeans is highly variable, and is very dependent on favorable weather conditions in August and early September, as well as having a later-than-normal first frost date. It is best to consult with an agronomist or seed representative before finalizing crop replant decisions.
University research has shown that corn stands can be reduced up 50 percent with only a 20 percent reduction in yield potential, provided that the stand reductions are fairly uniform. Similarly, soybean stands can be reduced by up to one-third, with only a 10 percent or less loss of yield potential. It should be noted that there is a lot of variation in these results in actual field conditions due to gaps between plants in the row, and the health of the remaining plants in the field. Unfortunately, drown-out damage usually affects only a portion of the field, and that area is usually a total loss.
Another factor affecting replant decisions is Federal Crop Insurance, which allows producers some compensation for replanting following crop losses from heavy rains, hail or other natural causes. To qualify for replant compensation, farmers must have a loss area of at least 20 acres, or 20 percent of the total acres in an insured farm unit, whichever is less. The crop insurance replant provision can only be exercised once on the same crop acres. Some farm operators may have already used the replant option following poor emergence in May, and thus could not use the replant provision again in June, following the excessive rainfall.
A majority of farmers in the Upper Midwest insure their corn and soybeans with a Federal Crop Insurance policy enterprise units, which group all acres of a given crop in a county together for calculating potential crop loss and insurance indemnity payments. By comparison, a crop insurance policy with optional units insures crops down to individual sections within a township. The reason more farmers choose enterprise units is to get higher insurance coverage levels at a lower premium cost. However, many times producers fare much better with optional units, as far as potential crop insurance indemnity payments, when dealing with more localized crop losses resulting from heavy rains or hail.
Crop producers in the Upper Midwest who are facing either prevented planting or crop replant situations should contact their crop insurance agent for more details on the prevented planting and replant options with various crop insurance policies. The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) has some very good crop insurance information and fact sheets available on the agency’s website.