New Crop Staging Videos

A new suite of crop staging videos has been built by faculty at The Ohio State University that highlight corn, soybean, and alfalfa. The videos highlight some common staging methods for each crop and connect the staging guidelines to practice using live plants in the field. The videos can be found in the “Crop Growth Stages” playlist on the AgCrops YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbqpb60QXN3UJIBa5is6kHw/playlists. These compliment some of the wheat staging videos previously posted on the AgCrops YouTube channel as well. As the crops progress through the reproductive stages, expect some more videos to be posted! Continue reading

Farm Science Review will be a virtual Show in 2020

For the first time in its nearly 60-year history, The Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review, scheduled for Sept. 22 to Sept. 24, will not be held in-person. Instead, a virtual show will be implemented for 2020.

The farm show, sponsored by Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), annually attracts over 100,000 visitors from all over the United States and Canada to the show site in London, Ohio.

“We are committed to delivering a robust and innovative virtual show in support of agriculture during this pandemic,” said Cathann A. Kress, vice president and dean of CFAES.

“Throughout its history, the Farm Science Review has been at the forefront of showcasing the future of agriculture,” she said. “While it may look different in 2020, we will continue to meet the needs of our growers and partners through access to exhibitors, virtual demonstrations, and education about the most recent advancements in agricultural production.”

The three-day event normally allows agricultural producers to peruse 4,000 product lines from 600 commercial exhibitors, view field demonstrations, and learn the latest in agricultural production. Popular educational programs feature specialists from The Ohio State University, Central State University, and other land-grant institutions. Continue reading

Looking for soybean fields with late season waterhemp

Common waterhemp true leaves without singular hair in the leaf tip notch

OSU weed scientists and ag engineers are looking for soybean fields that have populations of waterhemp or Palmer amaranth surviving into July and August (after all control with herbicides has been attempted).  We have a project involving the use of a drone to identify these weeds in mid to late season when they are evident above the soybean canopy.  We need fields with more than just a few surviving plants.  Populations consisting of a few good patches up though a disaster are fine.  Contact Mark Loux – loux.1@osu.edu, 614-395-2440.  Thanks in advance for your help.

National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) Updates

Sometimes this information is helpful in your farm management decisions. The National Ag Statics Service (NASS) sends different updates throughout the year.  This week was a big week of updates for the Great Lakes Region.  I am including those PDF updates links below.

Ohio Weekly Crop Progress & Condition Report

Ohio Acreage Summary

Ohio June 1 Grain Stocks

Ohio May Agricultural Prices

Ohio Biotechnology Varieties

Tri-State Precision Ag Webinar Recording Now Available

If you could not attend the Tri-State Precision Ag Webinar on June 23, 2020, you can now view the entire webinar online at go.osu.edu/TriStatePrecisionAg.

Topics and speakers included:

Hype from Reality
Dr. John Fulton, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University

Get the Most out of Ag Tech with On-Farm Research
Dr. Elizabeth Hawkins, Field Specialist, The Ohio State University

Yield Monitor Calibration
Ricardo Costa, Extension Educator, Michigan State University

Aerial Imagery Options
Crystal Van Pelt, Extension Educator, Purdue University

Contact Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Educator Stephanie Karhoff at 419-636-5608 or karhoff.41@osu.edu with any questions.

Use 2020 Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations

The Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations provide the foundation for agronomic nutrient management recommendations from the land-grant universities in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. The original publication, which came out in 1995, has been comprehensively updated with the release of the 2020 Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybean, Wheat, and Alfalfa.

The publication relies on Ohio-generated data from 198 farmer-coordinated, on-farm trials in 39 Ohio counties and long-term plots at OARDC Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Agronomic Research Stations conducted from 2006-18. This data validates the recommendations against modern hybrids and varieties and agronomic management practices under current weather conditions. Key recommendations from the guide are included here. Continue reading

The Nature Conservancy Seeks Cover Crop Farmers in the Maumee River Watershed

By:  Stephanie Singer, TNC Western Lake Erie Basin Outreach Education Specialist, Stephanie.Singer@tnc.org,

DEFIANCE, Ohio (June 9th, 2020) – The Nature Conservancy is looking for farmers who are currently utilizing cover crops on their farms in the Maumee River Watershed of the Western Lake Erie Basin.  We are looking for a diverse group of farmers; large acreage, small acreage, corn and soy, small grains, livestock, new and experienced, willing to reach out and share their knowledge and experiences with other farmers in their area.  Selected farmers will be compensated for their time.  If you are interested in being part of this exciting farmer-led outreach project and would like to apply as a Farmer Advocate for Conservation please complete the online application form by using this Link.  Or by contacting Stephanie Singer, Stephanie.Singer@tnc.org, Phone: 419-782-0652. Continue reading

Distribution of Waterhemp and Palmer Amaranth in Ohio

By: Mark Loux and Bruce Ackley, OSU Extension

The maps that accompany this article show our current knowledge of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth distribution in Ohio.  These are based on information from a survey of OSU Extension County Educators, along with information we had from samples submitted, direct contacts, etc. We still consider any new introductions of Palmer amaranth to be from an external source (brought in from outside Ohio) – hay or feed, infested equipment, CRP/cover/wildlife seedings.  Palmer is not really spreading around the state, and as the map shows, we have had a number of introductions that were immediately remediated.  The number of counties where an infestation(s) is being managed is still low, and within those counties, the outbreak occurs in only a few fields still.  Waterhemp is much more widespread in Ohio and is spreading rapidly within the state from existing infestations to new areas via equipment, water, animals, etc.  We do not have Ag Educators in all counties, and even where we do, infestations can occur without us knowing about them.  Feel free to contact us with new information to update the maps. Continue reading

Scout Alfalfa NOW For Potato Leafhopper

Management of potato leafhopper was needed weeks before this hopper burn.

Management of potato leafhopper was needed weeks before this hopper burn.

By Christian Krupke and John Obermeyer, Purdue University

Potato leafhopper populations were noticeably higher after last week’s tropical storm remnants blew through, and now the warmer temperature will drive further increases. Potato leafhoppers won’t mind this heat, and alfalfa pest managers should begin sampling their alfalfa shortly after cutting. Continue reading

Soybean Vegetative Growth Stages- VC vs V1

Article by Laura Lindsey

Stage VC - Definition: Fehr and Caviness (1977)- Unifoliolate leaves sufficiently unrolled, so the leaf edges are not touching Pederson (2009)- Unifoliolate leaves unrolled sufficiently, so the leaf edges are not touching

Stage VC – Definition: Fehr and Caviness (1977)- Unifoliolate leaves sufficiently unrolled, so the leaf edges are not touching Pederson (2009)- Unifoliolate leaves unrolled sufficiently, so the leaf edges are not touching

Across the state, soybean growth and development is variable, ranging from early vegetative stages to flowering. However, there has been some confusion regarding the identification of the VC and V1 growth stages. This confusion is mostly due to two definitions of V1…that actually mean the same thing. The Fehr and Caviness Method (1977) is based on the number of nodes that have a fully developed leaf, whereas Pederson (2009) focuses more on leaf unrolling so that the leaf edges are no longer touching. The VC definition for both methods is the same, but the differences start to appear between the methods at V1. Fehr and Caviness define V1 as “fully developed leaves at unifoliolate nodes,” which also means that there is “one set of unfolded trifoliolate leaves unrolled sufficiently, so the leaf edges are not touching.” This second definition is common in extension publications (Pedersen, 2009). Continue reading

Using the Forecasting System to Assess the Risk of Head Scab

Pierce 1By: Pierce Paul, OSU Extension

The head scab risk tool can be used to assess the risk of head scab and to help guide fungicide application decisions. Here are a few guidelines for using the system and interpret the output:

1.) Go to the website at www.wheatscab.psu.edu. You will see a map of the United States with some states in green, yellow, red, or gray. Continue reading

Wheat Growth Stages and Associated Management- Feekes 6.0 through 9.0

https://ohioline.osu.edu/sites/ohioline/files/imce/Agriculture_and_Natural_Resources/AGF-126_Fig3-Feekes-5-and-6.jpg

By:  Laura Lindsey, Ed Lentz, CCA, Pierce Paul

It’s important to correctly identify winter wheat growth stages to enhance management decisions, avoiding damage to the crop and unwarranted or ineffective applications. Remember, the exact growth stage cannot be determined by just looking at the height of the crop or based on calendar dates. Continue reading

Event Notice – Farmer’s Breakfast Special “Stay-at-Home” Spring Planting Edition

From Mary Griffith, ANR Extension Educator, Madison County

Stuck at home and really wish you could come to an Extension event? Us too, but we thought we could bring another great speaker to you. Join OSU Extension and Ohio Farm Bureau on Friday, April 17 and April 24 from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. for their virtual breakfast series. Each meeting will kick off with a weather forecast from the State Climate Office of Ohio’s Aaron Wilson, followed by a guest speaker. On April 17, Scott Schearer of OSU Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering will be discussing “Combating Compaction:  Minimizing Soil Compaction this Spring.” On April 24, John Fulton also of OSU Department of Food, Agriculture, and Biological Engineering will be presenting “Planter Set-up to Maximize Yield.”

In order to join us virtually please register at go.osu.edu/farmersbreakfast to receive the link! Please contact Madison County ANR Educator Mary Griffith at 740-852-0975 or griffith.483@osu.edu with questions.

Late Planted Corn Silage Yields Value

By: Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Henry County; Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Crawford County; Allen Gahler, OSU Extension Sandusky County (originally published in Ohio Farmer on-line)

Teff, Italian ryegrass, oats, and corn were included with 5 other ‘covers’ in this study

The combination of poor quality hay made in 2018, historic alfalfa winter kill, and excessive rainfall across most of Ohio in the spring of 2019 created a large need for high-quality alternative forage sources this past year. Record amounts of prevented plant acreage across the state created an opportunity to grow forages on traditional row cropped acres. As crop and livestock producers planted a variety of forage and cover crop species to supplement feedstocks, it was recognized that there was also a need to gather forage analysis results from these fields in order for growers to properly value and feed the forage grown. The following data are from cover crop forage samples that were submitted by farmers and from OARDC research stations where annual forages were grown as part of the 2019 Ohio State eFields program available at your local extension office or digitalag.osu.edu/efields. Continue reading

OSU Extension Seeking Farmer Cooperators for Fallow Syndrome eFields Trial

By:  Stephanie Karhoff, AgNR, Williams County

Wet weather conditions last spring prevented Williams County farmers from planting over 85,000 acres (USDA-Farm Service Agency Crop Acreage Data). When fields are left unplanted or fallow, there may be a decline in beneficial mycorrhizal fungi, which is commonly referred to as fallow syndrome.

Mycorrhizae are beneficial fungi that colonize plant roots. They aid plants in scavenging for soil nutrients, by extending the root system via thread-like structures called hyphae. In return, plants provide sugars produced during photosynthesis to the mycorrhizae.

Stunting and phosphorus deficiency are common symptoms associated with the fallow syndrome. Continue reading

Managing Stored Grain Through Winter

Stay safe when working in grain bins

Stay safe when working in grain bins

By: Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Crawford County

Managing stored grain throughout the winter is an important part of your grain marketing plan for farm profitability. This winter we are already receiving reports of stored grain going out of condition, which can lower the value and be a hazard to those working around the grain facility. At a minimum, the stored grain that has gone out of condition can cause health hazards, especially when grain dust contains mold and bacteria. Out of condition grain can also form a crust or stick to the bin walls and if someone enters the bin for any reason an entrapment could occur. For more information on safety when working around grain visit http://go.osu.edu/AFM and listen to episode 41 of the podcast on grain bin safety. Continue reading

Weed Management in Ohio, Update 2019

By: Harold Watters, OSU Extension Ag Crops Field Specialist

Our OSU Extension AgNR educators observed soybean fields across the state again this fall to see what was out there for our annual fall soybean weed survey. I was supposed to share this early enough so you could at least get a fall application on to get a head start on controlling marestail, but it seems we have more problems than that to deal with.

Statewide our most frequently observed weed problem was again marestail. It was present in 36% of the fields. The second most likely observation was weed-free — at 29% of the fields. That’s a big jump over several years ago, and likely due to LibertyLink, Enlist, and Extend soybeans. Third, fourth and fifth places in a three-way tie were giant ragweed, volunteer corn and then giant foxtail (or just generic grass) — all in about 19% of the fields. Next, and getting ever more widespread, is waterhemp at 15% of the fields across the state. Continue reading

2020 Northwest Ohio Crops Day

Received from Garth Ruff, Extension Educator, Henry County

Join Henry County OSU Extension Office on Friday, February 7 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for the 2020 Northwest Ohio Crops Day at the Bavarian Haus (3814 SR 18, Deshler, Ohio). Highlighting this year’s program is Greg Roth, Penn State University Extension grain crops specialist. Other speakers include Ben Brown, Mark Loux, Aaron Wilson, Greg Labarge, and Bruce Clevenger. Vendors will also be onsite.

The registration fee is $35 by January 30, or $45 after the deadline. Light breakfast, lunch, and a presentation folder are included in the registration fee. Register at 419-592-0806 or ruff.72@osu.edu.

Education credits offered are:  1-hr ODA Fertilizer Recert; 3-hrs ODA Private Pesticide (Cat 1, 2, 6, CORE) Recert; 2.5-hrs ODA Commercial Pesticide (CORE, 2c, 10c); and 4.5-hrs CCA.

Please see the schedule of the day here: https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/u.osu.edu/dist/4/75282/files/2019/12/2020-NW-OH-Crops-Day-Web-Flyer_Page_1.jpg

Corn – Soybean Day in Fulton County – January 17

From Eric Richer, Fulton County Ag/NR Educator

Please hold Friday, January 17, 2020, for the annual NW Ohio Corn-Soybean Day in Archbold at Founders Hall on the Sauder Village Campus.  Program runs from 8 am to 3 pm and includes a 3 hr Private Pesticide recertification plus 1 hour fertilizer; 2.5 hrs Commercial Recertification including 2d, 2c, core and fertilizer; and 4 hours of CCA credits. Prepaid registration is $35 if postmarked by Wednesday, January 8th.  A registration form/agenda for attendees is attached; print and send in ASAP with payment.  Please see the agenda for the day, located here: 2020 Corn-Soy Day agenda

Prevented Planting Decision for Corn in the Midwest

Taken from May 14, 2019 farmdoc daily (9):88

Gary SchnitkeyKrista SwansonRyan Batts
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

Carl Zulauf, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, Ohio State University

Continued wet weather and saturated soils over much of the Midwest suggest that many farmers will be facing decisions on whether to take prevented planting.  Prevented planting is available for those individuals purchasing the Common Crop Insurance (COMBO) product. Once the final planting date has arrived, the farmer can choose to take a prevented planting payment, plant corn, or plant soybeans or another crop. A cover crop can be planted on prevented planting farmland, but there are restrictions on haying and grazing the cover crop. In many cases, taking the prevented planting payments will have higher expected returns than planting.  However, market and policy dynamics this year make forming expectations on alternatives very difficult.   This article discusses considerations in making these decisions.

Need to Contact Crop Insurance Agents

Farmers who are considering taking prevented planting payments need to contact their crop insurance agents.  Eligibility and reporting requirements are key to assuring that a prevented planting payments can be received.  Moreover, for farmers electing prevented planting payments, the payments will be significant sources of farm income this year.  As a result, getting the details wrong can have large impacts on the financial positions of farms.

Eligibility for Prevented Planting Payments.

Prevented planting payments are eligible for plans in the Common Crop insurance (COMBO) policy.  These plans include Revenue Protection (RP), RP with the harvest price option, and Yield Protection.

For corn, the full prevented planting payments will be 55% of the guarantee. A buy-up option to 60% was available at crop insurance signup.  Take, as an example, an RP policy at an 85% coverage level and a 200 Trend-Adjusted Actual Production History (TA-APH) yield for corn.  The projected price for corn in 2019 is $4.00 per bushel.  In this case, the prevented planting payment in is $374 per acre (55% prevented planting payment times 85% coverage level times 200 TA-APH yields times $4.00 projected price). Lower RP coverage levels will have lower prevented planting payments.

Note also that the harvest price does not enter into prevented planting payments.  Prevented planting payments will not increase if the harvest price is above the projected price, even on RP policies.

Some farmers purchased the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) this year.  Prevented planting payments are not made on SCO coverage, only on the underlying COMBO product.

Prevented planting payments are not available on Area Risk Protection Insurance (ARPI) policies or Margin Protection.

Linkages between Commodity Title Programs and Market Facilitation Program Payments

Receiving prevented planting payments will not influence Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments.

However, taking prevented planting claims could influence payments from a 2019 successor to the 2018 Market Facilitation Program (MFP). In 2018, the MFP resulted from President Trump Administration’s desire to compensate farmers for losses due to trade disputes. Payments were $1.65 per bushel for soybeans and $.01 per bushel for corn on 2018 production.  If prevented planting is taken, no bushels will be produced and any future MFP-like payments paid by bushel produced will not occur. If the program is repeated, 2019 MFP payment levels could be different than in 2018. The program could have a different structure. Press articles suggest that aid will be forthcoming to farmers, although no plans for distribution have been released at this time (see Reuters).

Acres Eligible for Prevented Planting

Each insurable unit will have different acres eligible for prevented planting.  Knowing how many acres are eligible is key to not being surprised when making prevented planting decisions.  Crop insurance agents can aid in determining acres eligible for prevented planting payments.

As a general guideline, the maximum acres eligible for prevented planting payments equal the maximum acres of corn planted in the last four years in that insurable unit, adjusted for acreage increases, fewer corn acres planted in 2019.  Other planting requirements come into play as well.

As a simple example, take a 100-acre insurance unit that has remained the same size in the last four years. If the maximum number of acres in corn in one of the four years is 75 acres, then 75 acres is the maximum number of acres on which prevented the planting of corn can be taken.  If this farm gets 50 acres of corn planted, then only 25 acres are eligible for a prevented planting payment on corn.

Farmer-paid Premium and Enterprise Units

Enterprise units have significantly lower premiums than basic or optional units. To be eligible for an enterprise unit, a farmer must plant the lower of 20 acres or 20 percent of planted acres in at least two sections. Note that the requirement is based on planted acres.  Prevented planted acres do not enter into the calculations. If no planting occurs, the farm will receive prevented planting payments, but will not be eligible for the lower enterprise unit premiums.

APH Yields

Generally, prevented planting will not impact the APH yield in future years unless a second crop is planted on prevented planting acres.

Take as an example an insurable unit that has 500 acres and 400 acres are planted to corn. Prevented planting payments are taken on 100 acres and a second crop is not planted on those 100 acres. In this case, the yield used in calculating the APH for this insurable unit will be based on production from the 400 planted acres divided by 400 planted acres.

Decisions Following the Final Planting Date for Crop Insurance Purposes

For crop insurance purposes, the final planting date for a crop is key.  After the final planting data has arrived, a prevented planting payment can be taken.  There also is a late planting period that varies by state and crop and is 20 days after the final planting date for corn in Illinois.  Planting of corn after the final planting date can still occur, but the insurance guarantee is reduced 1% for each day the crop is planted after the final planting date.  After the 20 days late planting period, the guarantee will be 60% of the original guarantee.

Final planting dates for corn in most Midwest states will arrive soon. It is May 25 for much of the Great Plain states, upper Minnesota, and upper Wisconsin; May 31 for southern Minnesota, southeast North Dakota, southeast South Dakota, most of Wisconsin, Iowa, northeast Missouri, extreme southern Illinois, and Kentucky; and June 5 for most of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. A map showing these dates is available in the May 7 farmdoc daily article.

Once the final planting date arrives, a farmer with a COMBO product has four options:

  1. Take a prevented planting payment and not plant a crop to be harvested or grazed.
  • The prevented planting payment equals 55% of the guarantee unless an additional 5% buy-up to 60% was purchased. Take a Revenue Protection (RP) policy at an 85% coverage level and a 200 bushel per acre Trend-Adjusted Actual Production History (TA-APH) yield. Given a 55% prevented planting payment factor, the prevented planting payment is $374 per acre (55% payment factor x 85% coverage level x 200 TA-APH yield x $4.00 projected price).
  • APH yield is not impacted. If all acres in the insurable unit are not planted, the 10-year history will not change between 2019 and 2020. If some acres are planted, the average yield on planted acres will enter the APH history.
  • Full prevented planting payment for an insurable unit requires no field crop is harvested in 2019 on prevented planting acres on that insurable unit.
  • A cover crop can be planted and fully prevented planting payment received if the cover crop is not hayed or grazed before November 1.
  • The full farmer-paid premium for corn must be paid on the prevented planting acres. Note that farmer-paid premiums may be higher if the enterprise unit requirements are not met (see above discussion).
  1. Plant corn.
  • No prevented planting payment will be received.
  • Acres will be insured but the guarantee will decrease throughout the late planting period. Again, take an RP policy with an 85% coverage level, a $4.00 projected price, and a 200 TA-APH yield. Before the final insurance planting date, the minimum revenue guarantee is $680 per acre. This guarantee will be reduced by 1% for each day after the final insurance planting date. The guarantee will be $673 per acre one day after the final planting date, $666 per acre two days after the final planted date, and so on. After 25 days, the guarantee is fixed at 60% of the original amount, or $408 per acre (60% times $680).
  • In most cases, the 2019 yield will enter the APH history and impact future APH yields on acres planted to corn. The only exception would be if Yield Exclusion is declared for a county, allowing the yield for that year to be not included in APH histories.
  • The farmer must pay all of the farmer-share of premium on corn.
  1. Plant another crop. A farmer can plant another crop on acres intended to be corn. In most of the Midwest, this crop will be soybeans.
  • No prevented planting payment is received.
  • If the farmer signed up for crop insurance on the planted crop for the insurable unit, the acres will be covered by that policy. The insurance guarantee is not reduced until that crop’s final insurance planting date is reached. For soybeans, this date ranges from June 10 to June 30 in Midwest states (see farmdoc daily, May 7, 2019 for maps of final planting dates). If the crop that is planted was not signed up for insurance on that insurable unit, crop insurance cannot be purchased at the final sales date has passed.
  1. Take 35% of the corn prevented planting payment and plant another crop for harvest after the late planting period.
    1. In this option, the corn prevented planting payment equals 35% of the full prevented planting payment. In double-crop situations, obtaining the full prevented planting payment while planting double-crop soybeans is possible.
    2. The crop must be planted after the late planting period for corn.  This date will be in late June. Key management questions are whether an adequate stand will occur and whether an early frost will reduce yield.

The following discussion will focus on options 1 through 3.  Option 4 will be dealt with in a farmdoc daily article after the final plant date has occurred.  Option 1 is a precursor of option 4.  It is unlikely that option 4 will have a higher expected return than option 1.

Calculating Expected Returns from the Three Options

The farmdoc Prevented Planting Module will be used to aid in making calculations for each alternative. The Prevented Planting Module is part of the Planting Decision Model, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet within the FAST series available for download on farmdoc (here). The specific spreadsheet is available (here).

Calculations will be illustrated for a farm in Champaign County, Illinois that has chosen an RP policy at an 85% coverage level.  For Champaign County, the final planting date for corn is June 5 and for soybeans is June 20. The RP policy for corn has a 200 TA-APH yields and a 55% prevented planting payment factor applies for corn. Note that the tool gives the prevented planting payment for both corn and soybeans (see Figure 1).

Prevented Planting Payment on Corn: The prevented planting payment for corn will be $374 per acre. There will be costs associated with this alternative. We built in $25 per acre of weed control costs, which could include planting a cover crop. An $18 crop insurance premium also is included. Net returns from taking prevented planting are $341 per acre. Note that land and other costs are not included in the $341 value as they will not vary for the three options. The $341 per acre is not the net income from an acre under prevented planting.  In most cases, net income after considering overhead and land costs will be negative.

Plant Corn: Planting in this example is assumed to take place on June 6. On this date, planting will result in a slight reduction in the crop insurance guarantee to $673 per acre.  Those reductions will increase the later planting occurs during the late planting period.

In our example, the expected yield is 171 bushel per acre, as is estimated using parameters in the Prevented Planting Module. Users can override expected yields produced by the model. The expected insurance harvest price is $3.70 and the estimated harvest cash price is $3.40 in this example, close to the central Illinois market in mid-May. Given the 171 yields and $3.40 cash price, crop revenue is expected to be $581 per acre. Revenue includes a crop insurance payment of $41 per acre, bringing total estimated revenue to $622 per acre.

The example assumes that there are $469 per acre in “costs yet to be incurred”.  These are costs that can be avoided if corn is not planted, but will be incurred if corn is planted and harvested. The example shown in Figure 1 assumes that all fieldwork and all inputs still need to be applied, as is the case on many farms as a wet fall precluded much field work.  Several items to note:

  • Fertilizer costs are $145 per acre and include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash.  If nitrogen fertilizer has already been applied, then it should not be included in costs as it has already been incurred and cannot be avoided by not planting.
  • Drying costs are at $18 per acre.  Late planted corn likely will have a higher moisture level at harvest, resulting in a higher drying charge.  Harvesting corn in the high 20 percent moisture levels could result in much higher drying charges, perhaps near $50 per acre.
  • Field operations are charged at estimates of total machinery costs. Some reduction for planting and fieldwork may be warranted, but this will change results very little.

Net revenue from planting corn is $153 per acre. This is substantially lower than the $341 per acre net revenue from taking the prevented planting payment assuming no fieldwork is done and no input has been used and that all inputs are refundable.  Again, both figures are prior to land costs and therefore not equivalent to net income.

Plant Soybeans: Soybeans planted on June 6 are estimated to have a 59-bushel yield. The harvest insurance price is $8.30 and the expected cash price at harvest is $8.00. Costs to be incurred for soybeans are $256 per acre.

Net returns from planting soybeans are $219 per acre. Planting soybeans have higher returns than planting corn, but still notably less than taking the prevented planting payments for corn.

Planting Corn versus Taking a Prevented Planting Payment

For this example, expectations are that net returns from taking corn prevented planting exceeds returns from planting either corn or soybeans. Obviously, realized prices and yields will impact returns. The Planting Decision Model prepares a table giving net returns for corn under different prices and yields. These net returns include both revenue from crop sales as well as crop insurance payments (see Table 1).  Net returns above that from taking the corn prevented planting payment are highlighted in red. Note that net returns from prevented planting are above net returns from corn planting except when prices exceed $4.25 or yields are above 200 bushels per acre. Even at 210 bushels per acre, corn price needs to be above $4.00 before planting corn has higher net returns than taking prevented planting payments.

The example in Figure 1 and Table 1 uses an 85% coverage level.  Lower coverage levels will have lower prevented planting payments and net returns:

80% coverage level:  $352 prevented planting payment and $309 net return

75% coverage level: $330 prevented planting payment and $287 net return

70% coverage level: $308 prevented planting payment and $265 net return

As net returns are lowered, planting corn will become a more attractive alternative, but, even at a 70% coverage level, expected net returns from taking prevented planting payments exceed that from planting corn.

Two other considerations in the decision to plant corn or take the prevented planting payment:

  • Planting corn has the potential to lower APH yield in the future.
  • There is a possibility of MFP-like payments on corn that are higher than the $.01 level in 2018.  Higher MFP payments could increase revenue from planting corn.

Switching to Soybeans versus Taking a Prevented Planting Payment

Soybean net returns are $219 per acre, higher than corn’s net return of $153 per acre, but still below the $331 per acre net return from taking the prevented planting payment.  Those net returns suggest taking the corn prevented planting payment has the highest expected return.  Planting soybeans have the same considerations as planting corn, but three seem critical:

  • Net returns are based on a 59 bushel per acre yield.  This yield may be high given the late planting.
  • An MFP payment in 2019 similar to the 2018 payment would change returns.  Adding a $1.65 per bushel MFP to the example in Table 1 would increase returns to $314 per acre, coming close to the $331 per acre net return on taking the prevented planting payment on corn.
  • Low yield in 2019 will lower APH yields in future years.

Market and Policy Dynamics

Uncertainty about market and policy dynamics cause prevented planting decisions to be more difficult this year than is typical.  Items contributing to these uncertainties include:

  • The trade war with China leads to uncertainty about the level of soybean exports from the United States.
  • The presence of African Swine Fever in southeast Asia further reinforces the potential for lower export demand for soybeans.
  • The likely existence of a successor to the Market Facilitation Program in 2019 could influence market dynamics. Press reports suggest that President Trump’s administration is considering about $15 billion in aid to American farmers, more than occurred in 2018.  If this aid is tied to production as the 2018 MFP payments were, decisions related to prevented planting will impact MFP-like returns, potentially changing decisions of farmers.
  • The late planting contributes to uncertainty about acreages that will be planted and yields that will be harvested in the U.S.

In a late planting year, the expected dynamics are for corn acres to decrease and soybean acres to increase, leading to upward pressures on corn prices and lower soybean prices.  Offsetting these movements would be MFP payments at 2018 levels: $.01 per bushel for corn and $1.65 per bushel for soybeans.  The level of MFP payments in 2019 could offset the current lower soybean prices.  How this will impact planting decisions and resulting market conditions is difficult to predict.

At this point, market dynamics in corn and soybean markets are being influenced by elements not seen in the past, causing difficult projections to be even more uncertain.

Summary

Prevented planting decisions are always difficult, but the market and policy dynamics make 2019 decisions even more difficult.  Given no MFP-like payments, our analysis suggests that prevented planting has the highest expected return relative to planting corn or planting soybeans.  An individual’s situation will matter.  In particular, planting may be more economical if some of the inputs, especially fertilizer on corn, have already been applied.

An individual’s expectation on another round of aid similar to last year’s MFP payments also will influence planting decisions.  Press reports suggest that aid is being considered and that aid will be larger than last year.  If this aid is targeted to 2019 production, incentives will be reduced to take prevented planting payments.

The above analysis is for a central Illinois farm situation.  Expected returns from the alternatives will vary across regions.  Farmers should conduct their own analysis. Still, the considerations and dynamics presented in this paper will apply to all farmers in the Midwest facing late planting decisions.

Market and policy conditions are very fluid this year. This article contains the best information available as of this date, but conditions may change.  Farmers should check with crop insurance agents when making prevented planting decisions.

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