Soybean Prevent Planting Decisions in Middle June, Cover Crops, and MFP Payments

Source: farmdoc daily (9):114

Click here to watch Dr. Schnitkey’s video

Farmers across the Midwest can now take prevent planting payments on soybeans, as final planting dates for crop insurance purposes have arrived. Our comparisons suggest that planting soybeans do not have higher returns than taking a prevent planting payment given a high coverage level on crop insurance. However, the risk for lower returns from planting as compared to taking the prevent planting payment is limited as crop insurance provides a floor on revenue.  These risks become greater the later soybeans are planted in the late planting period. The economic advisability of planting soybeans depends on receiving Market Facilitation Payments and no additional Federal aid for prevent planting acres.  Our current projections indicate that returns from either prevent planting or planting soybeans will not cover costs and working capital will be eroded. At the end of this article, links to YouTube videos provide the latest information on cover crops and the Market Facilitation Program as well as a general background on preventing planting.

Yield Declines and Soybean Prevent Plant Decisions in 2019

Final planting dates for soybeans have passed in all the Corn Belt (see farmdoc dailyMay 7, 2019). For Illinois, the final planting date is June 15 for northern Illinois counties and June 20 for central and southern Illinois counties. After reaching the final planting date, farmers can take soybean preventing plant payments on farmland that was intended to be planted to soybeans if they had purchased a COMBO crop insurance plan (Revenue Protection (RP), RP with harvest price exclusion, and Yield Protection). Farmers can continue to plant soybeans, however, the crop insurance guarantee goes down 1 percent per day for each day after the final planting date during the late period. In Midwest states, the late planting period lasts 25 days after the final planting date.  After the late planting period, soybeans can still be planted, but the guarantee is 60% of the original revenue guarantee.

A key to evaluating the plant versus prevent plant decision is assessing yield losses from late planting. A comparison of double-crop soybean yields to full-season soybean yields in southern Illinois provides some indications of yield declines with late planting. Yield data were obtained from Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM). From 2012 to 2019, double-crop soybean yields averaged 38 bushels per acre, 75% of the average full-season yield of 51 bushels per acre (see Table 1).

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Mid to Late June Prevented Planting Decisions

Source:Ben Brown, Sarah Noggle, Barry Ward, OSU Extension

Consistent rains across Ohio and the Corn Belt continue to delay planting progress as the June 17 USDA Planting Progress report showed that 68% of intended corn acres and 50% of intended soybean acres have been planted in Ohio. Nationwide, roughly 27 million acres of corn and soybeans will either be planted or filed under prevented planting insurance. Across Ohio, the Final Plant Date (FPD) for soybeans is June 20. Soybeans can be planted after the FPD, but a one percent reduction in the insurance guarantee occurs. This brief article outlines economic considerations for soybean prevented planting under three scenarios: planting soybeans on corn acres, planting soybeans late, and taking prevent plant soybeans. There are three sections to this article: a brief market update on corn and soybeans, a policy update on Market Facilitation Payments, and then finally the scenarios listed above. This article contains the best information available as of release, but conditions may change. Farmers should check with their crop insurance agents when making prevented planting decisions. OSU Extension is not an authorizing body of federal crop insurance policies.

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Farmdoc Webinar on Prevent Plant/Late Planting Decisions

A webinar on prevent planting was conducted on June 12, 2019. Items include:

1. Todd Hubbs provided market outlook: Bullish corn, bearish soybean
2. Jonathan Coppess provided a policy outlook: Still uncertainty on Market Facilitation Program and Disaster Assistence Programs
3. Gary Schnitkey provided farmer decision making: Corn planting is coming to the end, Don’t plant soybeans on corn prevent plant acres, little downside and upside on planting on planting soybeans on intended soybean acres for the next week.

The webinar video is available on our YouTube Channel now (Click Here)

Two more webinars will be conducted on the next two Wednesdays (June 19, June 26) at 8:00 am (Central Time).  Click here to register.

 

Prevented Planting, 2019 Market Facilitation Program Payments, Disaster Assistance, and Price Dynamics

Source: Schnitkey, G., C. Zulauf, K. Swanson, R. Batts and J. Coppess, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

We stand at a point of extreme price and policy uncertainty.  In the Midwest, corn planting is historically late and many acres are or soon will be eligible for prevented planting payments on corn crop insurance policies.  On many farms, corn prices have not increased enough to cause net returns from planting corn to exceed net returns from prevented planting.  However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) and has currently indicated that payments will be tied to 2019 planted acres.  The 2019 MFP could provide incentives to plant crops and not take prevented planting payments.  Moreover, this program could bring a little used option into play this year:  take 35% of the corn prevented planting payment and plant soybeans after the late planting period for corn.   Adding confusion to this situation is a disaster assistance program working its way through Congress. We provide detail on the 2019 MFP program based upon what is known at this time, and the Congressional disaster assistance bill.  Then, we evaluate farmer options at this point.  Decisions are difficult.  Corn prices have not risen enough to justify planting corn on many farms.  Yet, corn prices could increase if a large number of prevent planting acres occur.

2019 Market Facilitation Program Payments

In a May 23rd press release, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlined the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP). This program is projected to provide $14.5 billion in direct payments to farmers of specific commodities, $4.9 billion more than the $9.6 billion spent on the 2018 MFP (Schnepf, Monke, Stubbs, and Hopkinson). Important details of this program are:

  • Payments will be based on 2019 planted acres to MFP-covered crops. USDA has initially stated that payments will not be received on prevented planting acres but the final details have yet to be released. By itself, this provision provides incentives to plant crops and not take prevented planting payments.
  • MFP-covered crops in 2019 include corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa hay, barley, canola, crambe, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, mustard seed, dried beans, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, and upland cotton.
  • There will be a single payment rate for a county. That per acre payment rate will be based on total plantings of the MFP-covered crops on the individual farm. Acres planted to an individual crop will not matter other than its contribution to total planted MFP crops on the farm.  As an example, suppose that MFP rate for a county is $50 per acre. A farm with 60 acres in corn and 40 acres in soybeans will have 100 MFP acres and receive $5,000.  The farm will also receive $5,000 if 40 acres are corn and 60 acres are soybeans.
  • Payments acres in 2019 cannot exceed the payment acres on the farm for the 2018 MFP. This restriction is designed to prevent more acres moving into covered crops, particularly from grasslands or lands typically not farmed. It will most likely be made on a Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm basis. A farm that had 80 MFP-acres in 2018 cannot receive payments on more than 80 acres in 2019.  (see, Perdue Provides More Clarity on Tariff Aid).
  • Payments will be made in three tranches, the first in late July/early August after the July 15th planting reporting date with the Farm Service Agency (FSA), November, and early January.  Whether or not the November and early January payments are made will depend on USDA determination on the need for these payments.

Many important questions remain to be answered regarding 2019 MFP payments; the answers to these questions could affect 2019 planting decisions.   The most important question is:  What are the 2019 per acre payment rates?

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Corn vs. Soybeans in a Delayed Planting Scenario – Profit Scenarios

Source: Barry Ward, OSU Extension

Wet weather and planting delays throughout much of Ohio and the eastern Cornbelt have many producers thinking about switching corn acres to soybeans or the taking the prevented planting option of their Multiple Peril Crop Insurance policy. Ohio had 9% of intended corn acres planted by May 19th which is far behind the 5 year average of 62%. Farms with pre-plant nitrogen or herbicides applied for corn production may have no option to switch to soybeans. Seed availability may also limit choice for some. Other factors, such as strict adherence to a crop rotation or landlord considerations may limit farmer choice when it comes to switching from corn to soybean plantings in a given year. Farm leases may contain specifications on crop rotations or even what crops may be grown. There may also be unwritten agreements between parties that limit the possibility of growing soybeans in successive years.

Producers that don’t have these limitations may be considering the option of switching acres to soybeans and it will likely come down to expected profit. Field by field budgeting is recommended and with delayed planting the yield expectations change as we move later into the growing season. What will be the likely yields for a given farm for the two crop choices? A recent article, “Delayed Planting Effects on Corn Yield: A “Historical” Perspective” is a good starting point in evaluating potential yield loss due to late corn planting: https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2019-12/delayed-planting-effects-corn-yield-%E2%80%9Chistorical%E2%80%9D-perspective

A recent article highlighting faculty in the College of Food, Agricultural and environmental Sciences always provides valuable insight into the possible yield swings related to late plantings of corn and soybeans: https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/late-start-planting-might-not-hurt-yields-much

Looking at some simple scenarios may get your budgeting process moving for your own fields. These scenarios are based on the 2019 crop enterprise budgets available online at: https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farm-management-tools/farm-budgets

Scenario 1 – Yield prospects remain unchanged, new estimated revenue based on today’s markets:

Corn – 170.2 bu/a & 4.00/bu

Returns Above Variable Costs     $293

Soybeans – 51.5 bu/a & 7.90/bu

Returns Above Variable Costs     $207

Price changes in the last 3 weeks have been favorable to corn and shows some advantage to corn with these assumptions using OSUE Enterprise Budgets.

Scenario 2 – Corn yield 13% lower (per OSU Agronomy Guide, planting date 5-22 through 5-27), soybean yields remain unchanged, new estimated revenue based on today’s markets:

Corn – 148 bu/a & 4.00/bu

Returns Above Variable Costs     $227

Soybeans – 51.5 bu/a & 7.90/bu

Returns Above Variable Costs     $207

The choice becomes closer as we see corn still outperforming soybeans (barely) in Returns Above Variable Costs.

Scenario 3 – Corn yield 13% lower (per OSU Agronomy Guide, planting date 5-22 through 5-27), soybean yields 5% lower, soybean seed costs higher due to higher seeding rate (additional 30,000 seeds per acre planted) for late planted soybeans, new estimated revenue based on today’s markets:

Corn – 148 bu/a & 4.00/bu

Returns Above Variable Costs     $227

Soybeans – 48.9 bu/a & 7.90/bu

Returns Above Variable Costs     $175

This choice again favors corn as the lower soybean yield due to late planting and additional seeding costs make the choice of corn somewhat stronger compared to Scenario 2.

The recent announcements of another round of Market Facilitation Payments and changes to Prevented Planting Coverage due to the pending Disaster Aid Bill may add further complexity to this choice.

As planting is delayed further into June the potential lower yields of both corn and soybeans due to a later planting window will tend to favor soybeans. These simplified scenarios are just examples and farmers should budget for the different yield, price and cost combinations based on their own numbers.

Prevent Plant…What’s That Again?

Source: Eric Richer & Chris Bruynis, OSU Extension Educators

Wet conditions in Ohio and the Eastern Corn Belt has slowed (halted?) planting progress for Ohio producers. According to the May 20th Crop Progress Report by USDA National Ag Statistics Service, Ohio had only 9% corn planted. Surprisingly that was ‘double’ what was planted the week before and well behind the 5-year average of 62% planted. In 2018, Ohio was 69% planted by this report date.

Certainly, the Prevent Plant (PP) crop insurance tool has become a hot topic this year. Many of you have had the chance to attend prevent plant meetings or speak with your crop insurance agent. If not, we will try to briefly summarize your options and strongly suggest you talk to your agent or utilize one of the calculators (see associated “Decision Tools” article by Sam Custer) to determine which option best suits your farm operation.

Your first option is to plant the corn crop by June 5, the final plant date for corn (or June 20 for soybeans). Up until the final plant date, you are eligible for your full guarantee at the level you have selected. For example, 80% coverage x 170 bu/ac APH x $4.00 = $544/acre. If you elect to plant corn after June 5, you will incur a 1% reduction in your guarantee up through June 25, at which time your corn will crop will become uninsurable. For example, if you plant corn on June 8, the guarantee formula (170 APH, 80% coverage) would be: 80% x 170 bu/ac x $4.00 x 97% = $528/acre. Planting dates need to be recorded, as these rules apply on field-by-field and acre-by-acre basis.

Secondly, you can elect to switch your intended corn acres to soybean acres. You will not have the option to file a prevented plant claim (unless you arrive at June 20 unable to plant soybeans). You will be charged for the soybean insurance premium, not the corn premium. The decision tool referenced earlier will be helpful here as this is not an easy decision. June weather (local and regional), supply/demand economics, trade policy and input options increase the complexity.

Your last option is to file for Prevent Plant, assuming you did not get corn planted by June 5. The mechanics of prevented plant deserve a review to ensure understanding. Prevent plant covers Yield Protection (YP), Revenue Protection (RP) and Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Option policies and references the February new crop corn pricing period (aka projected price). The projected price for 2019 corn is $4.00/bu and $9.54/bu for soybeans. A corn policy has a 55% Prevent Plant guarantee (buy-up available to 60%) and soybeans a 60% guarantee (with buy-up available to 65%). In order to further be eligible for Prevent Plant, at least 20 acres or 20% of that unit must not get planted (the lesser of the two). Prevented Plant does not affect your yield history as long as you do not plant a second crop. So a quick example (80% coverage, 170 bu/ac APH) for prevented plant corn would be: 80% x 170 bu/ac x $4.00 x 55% = $299/acre.

To be sure, there are costs besides the premium that are associated with Prevent Plant. Are there ‘restocking fees’ associated with returned seed or other inputs? What are the year-long weed control costs? If utilizing cover crops, what will their cost be? What are my land costs or how do I address my land costs? Do I need to pay labor & management costs even though the land wasn’t ‘farmed’? And finally, are their opportunity costs (marketing) missed because of taking Prevent Plant? We do not have space in this article to address these but they are things to be considering.

The reporting of Prevent Plant acres-should you elect that option-is quite simple. First, the total acres of Prevent Plant corn that you can file in 2019 can be no greater that the greatest number of acres of corn you reported in any of the previous four years (2015-2018). To report Prevent Plant acres, you would first need to turn in a notice (starting June 6) to your insurance agent. Then report your Prevent Plant to USDA Farm Service Agency to get it on your acreage report. Then you will need to work with your adjuster to finalize the claim, which will generally be paid within 30 days.

Prevented planting insurance payments can qualify for a 1 year deferral for inclusion in income tax. You can qualify if you meet the following criteria:

  • You use the cash method of accounting.
  • You receive the crop insurance proceeds in the same tax year the crops are damaged.
  • You can show that under your normal business practice you would have included income from the damaged crops in any tax year following the year the damage occurred.

The third criteria is the sometimes the problem. Most can meet the criteria, although if you want reasonable audit protection, you should have records showing the normal practice of deferring sales of grain produced and harvested in year 1 subsequently stored and sold in the following year.

There are many additional questions that we could address in this article but these are the basic options to guide your thought process…unless Mother Nature just won’t cooperate!

Yield Response of Corn to Plant Population in Indiana

Source: RL (Bob) Nielsen, Jim Camberato, & Jason Lee Purdue University (Edited)

Summary:

Results from 97 field scale trials around Indiana since 2008 suggest that maximum yield response to plant populations for 30-inch row corn grown under minimal to moderate stress conditions occurs at about 32,150 plants per acre (ppa), equal to seeding rates of about 33,840 SEEDS per acre (spa). Economic optimum populations are several thousand lower than the agronomic optimum. Corn grown under extremely challenging conditions (e.g., severe drought stress) may perform best at plant populations no higher than 22,800 ppa and perhaps as low as 21,000 ppa under truly severe growing conditions (e.g., actual drought, non-irrigated center pivot corners, non-irrigated sandy fields with minimal rainfall).

The cost of seed corn is the largest single variable input cost for most Indiana corn growers(Dobbins et al., 2019). Minimizing that cost involves a combination of shrewd purchasing skills and wise selection of seeding rates. This summary focuses on our recent research evaluating the yield responses of corn to plant populations in field scale trials conducted around the state of Indiana since 2008.

Reported corn plant populations have increased steadily in Indiana (and Ohio) for the past several decades, at an annual increase of approximately 315 plants per acre (ppa) per year, based on historical data summarized by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. In 2018, the average reported plant population for Indiana (and Ohio) was approximately 30,400 PLANTS per acre (USDA-NASS, 2019). Considering stand establishment success typically ranges from 90% to 95%, the average reported population suggests that the average seeding rate statewide is 32,000 to 33,800 seeds per acre (spa). Among the agronomic factors that support the steady annual increase in plant populations has been the genetic improvement in overall stress tolerance that has resulted in a) ear size and kernel weight becoming less sensitive to the stress of thicker stands of corn and b) improved late-season stalk health.

Click here to read the entire study