COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri Extension agricultural economists recommend that you check with your crop insurance agent before cutting or grazing drought-damaged crops as relief forages.
Some producers are finding that drought-stricken corn may have more value as cattle feed than grain this year. They are using the corn to fill feed gaps.
“These management decisions influence crop insurance and need to be front and center,” Ben Brown, MU Extension agricultural economist, says in a news release.
If you planted by the designated final planting period but had a very poor stand, you are insured and obligated to care for the crop to maximize yield, says MU Extension agricultural economist Ray Massey. You must get the approval of your crop insurance agent before making any decision that deviates from a good farming practice.
“Don’t harvest an insured crop as a forage without getting an approved plan from your insurance provider in writing,” Massey says.
For producers considering chopping an insured grain crop for silage or grazing, the following steps are suggested:
1. Contact your crop insurance agent and explain what you want to do with a specific field. Chopping silage or grazing without consent from your agent likely will nullify any crop insurance payment for the field.
2. Take pictures (aerial photos, if possible) of areas under consideration.
3. If an adjuster cannot come immediately to the field to make an estimate of yield potential, coordinate with your agent to leave a representative sample area for appraisal.
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A representative sample area (RSA) — determined and marked by the insurance adjuster — may be an approved way to prove what grain yield would have been if the crop were allowed to mature.
“That RSA will represent the yield for the whole field. Understanding this step is crucial,” says Brown.
According to the 2023 Loss Adjustment Handbook, “If the insured put acreage to another use and left representative sample areas prior to notifying and receiving approval from the insurance provider … the acreage put to another use is considered destroyed without consent.”
The insured must agree to the following for RSA(s):
- One RSA for 10 acres or less, then one additional RSA for each additional 40 acres in field or subfield.
- Leave at least 10-foot wide RSA(s) the entire length of the field.
- Care for the RSA(s) in the same manner as if it were to be harvested until the areas are appraised.
- If seeking to release the acreage for grazing, protect the RSA(s) from livestock.
A farmer’s actual production history (APH) will be affected by this year’s yields based on yields collected from RSA(s). You might benefit from choosing an APH Yield Exclusion.
Farmers who choose to harvest their grain crops as forages to meet immediate livestock feed needs may then consider planting with a second insured crop, an uninsured forage crop or a summer cover crop. All options require the insured farmer to communicate plans to the insurance provider.
A second crop resulting in a grain harvest might be insurable if it is not practical to replant the first insured crop if planted before the final plant date or during the late planting period. If it is insurable, the insured loss on the first crop can be reduced if there is a loss claim on the second crop.
“Keep in mind, the insurance guarantee for the second insured crop is reduced 1% per day if planted during the late planting period,” says Massey.
If a farmer chooses to plant an uninsured cover crop that will be harvested later in the year as a forage (effectively another forage crop), it likely will not affect the loss claim on the initial spring-planted insured crop. If considering a summer planted forage crop, establishment, expected freeze dates and potential tonnage production are all factors. The Midwest Cover Crop Decision Tool at midwestcovercrops.org/covercroptool can help identify viable options.