Farmers facing decisions on prevented planting

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The crop progress reports from NASS/USDA have detailed the slow progress in the number of corn acres planted across America’s Farm Belt. Nationally, only 58 percent of corn acres had been planted by May 28, compared to 90 percent last year. Minnesota, specifically, was at 66 percent, compared to 91 percent a year ago.  

The slowed progress has made farmers like Richard Syverson, who farms north of Benson, question planting his remaining acres on land that would not be fit until the beginning of June.

June 1st is after the crop insurance deadline for planting, and Syverson is looking at a yield loss of as much as 20 percent by planting corn that late. Still he prefers planting, and he will do it if he can make the numbers work, and if the weather begins to cooperate.

“We do the best we can with the tools we have, but thankfully we have the crop insurance system we have now, so that if we get into a ‘prevented plant’ situation, we can take the payment and live to farm another year,” said Syverson, who is in his 38th year of planting.

Bryan Biegler has not been able to plant a single acre on his Lake Wilson farm. He is looking at filing for the Prevented Plant designation if things don’t improve, and quickly.  

“Some guys have something in, but there’s a pocket with quite a few in my area who don’t have anything in yet,” said Biegler. “To the east and west of me, some things are planted, but across a stretch to the south of us, there isn’t anything planted.”

Though the federal crop insurance program sets May 31 as the planting deadline in Minnesota, Biegler notes after May 25 yield losses become an issue. He would pivot to planting cover crops on the fields he designates for prevented planting.

Kirby Hettver, who farms in DeGraff, and Noah Hultgren, who farms near Willmar, only had a fraction of their corn planted last week with continuing rain keeping them out of the fields. Chad Willis, who also farms near Willmar had more luck with the rain patterns and finished with his corn. As of last week, he had yet to start planting soybeans and rain was in the forecast.

While Syverson and many other farmers are keeping the antacids handy, Jerry Demmer is feeling fortunate after getting all of his corn and beans planted on his farm in Clark’s Grove. He estimates that about 90 percent of the corn is planted in south-central Minnesota.

Brian Thalmann, who farms in Plato Minnesota, about fifty miles due west from the Cities, was able to finish planting his, which represents 75 percent of his ground.

Southeastern Minnesota seems, in places, to have escaped the worst that the weather patterns have dealt. Les Anderson, who farms in the Cannon Falls area, reported most corn is planted in his area, but he knows just a half hour south of him planting progress has lagged.

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