Grower Options For Insured Wheat Damaged By Late Winter Storm (Monte Vandeveer – KSU Ag Economist)

Following is an article by Monte Vandeveer, Extension Agricultural Economist with Kansas State University, concerning grower options for insured wheat damaged by the recent late winter storm in Kansas. A full version of the article is available on the KSU AgManager Website at the following web address:

http://www.agmanager.info/grower-options-insured-wheat-damaged-late-winter-storm

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Grower Options For Insured Wheat Damaged By Late Winter Storm

Monte Vandeveer (montev@ksu.edu), Kansas State Univ., Dept.  of Ag Economics, May 2017

The late winter storm which struck western and central Kansas, along with areas in neighboring states, caused cold-weather damage to the crop which was progressing into its later developmental stages.  A publication from K-State’s Department of Agronomy, Spring Freeze Injury to Kansas Wheat,” shows how wheat’s resistance to freeze injury varies with different stages of development, along with the types of injury due to low temperature and their effects on yield at later stages of plant development.

Another risk faced by growers is the problem of bent or broken stalks, pressed down by a foot or more of heavy wet snow from the storm.  K-State’s Department of Agronomy issued an e-Update on May 1 about the severe conditions across the state and the likelihood of wheat damage.   Agronomists advise that it may be several days before the extent of damage is known in some cases.

Fortunately, most wheat acres in Kansas are insured; in fact, the state typically has over 90 percent of its planted wheat acres covered by crop insurance.  Step 1 after potential damage to the crop is always prompt notification of one’s insurance agent.

With damage across such a wide area, the next challenge will be to schedule a loss adjustment.  Once the adjuster provides an appraisal, the acres will be released for other use.  If a grower disagrees with the appraisal of the damaged crop, he/she will need to leave intact strips in the field for later harvest and final resolution of the wheat claim.

What would a complete loss be worth? 

Assume a producer has a 40-bushel Actual Production History yield for insurance, along with the $4.59 Projected Price (determined prior to planting) to get an expected revenue of $183.60 per acre.  Combine this with an insurance guarantee level of 75% to get coverage worth $137.70 per acre for a complete wipe-out.

In general, insurance rules do permit the planting of a second crop when an insured first crop fails.  The Risk Management Agency indicates the following options are permitted for an insured wheat crop that has failed, provided it had not already headed out:

  • The acreage may be left idle (black dirt), or planted to a second crop and not insured, and receive a full indemnity for the first insured crop;
  • Plant and insure a second crop and receive a 65-percent reduction in indemnity for the first insured crop – you pay 35 percent of the premium for the first insured crop;
  1. If there is not a loss on the second crop, you will receive the remaining 65 percent of indemnity on the first insured crop and pay the full premium on the first insured crop; or
  2. If the second crop receives an indemnity, the first crop indemnity remains at 35 percent and the second crop indemnity is fully paid (no reduction). You may choose to not accept the second crop indemnity and receive a full indemnity on the first insured crop.

For most non-irrigated western Kansas growers, the likely second crop is grain sorghum.  Optimal seeding dates still lie in the future, farmers are already quite experienced with it, it is well-adapted to hot, dry western Kansas summers, and it is easily marketed.

For the example above, the producer could take 35 percent of the wheat indemnity, or $48.20 per acre, then plant grain sorghum as a second crop, and insure it.  If the grain sorghum has no loss, the producer would receive the remaining 65 percent of the wheat indemnity, $89.50 per acre, once the grain sorghum crop was harvested.  A second option would be to take the entire wheat indemnity of $135.70 per acre, still plant the grain sorghum, but leave it uninsured.

What should producers do with the damaged wheat crop in the meantime?

Again, producers need to wait until an adjuster inspects their fields and releases the acres before taking other steps.  Once an adjuster has made an appraisal and the acres are released, a producer may handle the damaged crop in any manner he/she desires.  This includes making hay or silage from the damaged crop, if conditions permit.

These rules apply for wheat that HAD NOT already headed out.  Of course, plant maturities vary widely across the storm area due to different varieties, planting dates, etc., and some wheat had already headed out.  Wheat which had in fact headed out prior to this storm is of course eligible for a full indemnity, but no second crop may be insured. 

If the damaged wheat was a summer-fallow crop and it is destroyed by June 1, producers can go back and plant wheat on those same acres this fall and have them considered as grown under summer-fallow practice.  If the damaged wheat is not destroyed by June 1 and wheat is planted there again this fall, it would be considered continuous cropping wheat.

Producers are reminded to consult with their crop insurance agent to ensure compliance with insurance program rules and maintain their eligibility for insurance coverage.

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