Heavy Rainfall Causes More Crop Loss

September 24, 2018



Many areas of Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa reported heavy rainfall, and even some hail and wind damage, during the week of September 17-21. A large portion of the region received 3-5 inches of rainfall, with some areas receiving over 7 inches of rainfall. This type of intense rainfall is very unusual in September, being more likely to occur in the Spring and early Summer; however, it also occurred across the same region in 2016. Some locations across the region also had strong winds and hail, along with the heavy rains, which caused additional damage to some crops.

There will likely be additional crop loss, along with potential major delays in the 2018 corn and soybean harvest, as a result of the most recent heavy rainfall events. The corn and soybean fields near any rivers, streams or creeks, as well as in most other low lying, poorly drained portions of farm fields, are now under water. Many of these fields had some fairly good yield potential prior to the storms, especially with soybeans, following the damage from storms and heavy rains back in June.

Most farmers in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa are now dealing with completely saturated soil conditions, which is likely to delay soybean and corn harvest across the entire region. A majority of soybeans in the region are either ready to harvest, or very near maturity. Much of the corn in the region has also reached “black layer’, or physiological maturity, and has begun to dry down in the field. In some areas it will be several days before combining can begin, while in other areas it will take a week or longer of dry conditions for fields to be fit. In some fields, farmers will be forced to combine a portion of the field, leaving the balance until the field dry out.

Soybean harvesting is the number one concern right now for most producers. Once the soybeans are mature, they dry down rather rapidly in the field, especially with warm, sunny weather conditions. Once this occurs, the soybean pods can “pop open” in the field prior to harvest. There is also concern regarding the stem strength of the soybeans that were in partial standing water for several days. If field conditions remain too wet to harvest the soybeans for a long period, there is potential for considerable field loss during soybean harvest.

The wet field conditions also increase corn harvest concerns in the region. Much of this year’s corn crop has a very shallow root system, due to the heavy rainfall and continuous saturated soil conditions early in the growing season. The shallow-rooted corn, together with a higher than normal incidence of stalk rots, increases the likelihood of more stalk breakage in corn this Fall. This problem will likely increase later in the Fall, especially if there are significant harvest delays due to considerable amounts of standing water, or if some strong winds occur.

The crop damage and harvest delays are especially difficult for affected crop producers that are facing very tight profit margins in 2018. Farm operators in many portions of Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa were already looking at reduced corn yield potential, due to poor growing conditions early in the growing season. The soybean yield potential had improved considerably across the region, in response to some very favorable growing conditions in August and early September. Now, many producers are in a “wait and see” mode regarding corn and soybean harvest, hoping that the yields on a majority of the crop acres are strong enough, in order to offset yield losses in the portions of fields that may be lost due to the heavy rains and flooded conditions.




Farm operators with crop losses need to contact their crop insurance agent prior to harvesting fields with significant crop losses to make sure that those losses are reported and verified. Producers also need to keep good yield records, and follow crop insurance verification procedures, in order to maximize crop insurance indemnity payments on damaged crop acres. Crop insurance indemnity payments will vary from farm-to-farm, depending on the type of insurance and the level of insurance coverage that was purchased for the 2018 crop year, as well as the final 2018 corn and soybean yields. The current lower price levels for corn and soybeans increases the likelihood of crop insurance payments for producers with Revenue Protection (RP) crop insurance policies.

Producers facing significant crop losses that have “optional units” for crop insurance policies in 2018 could be in a position to collect considerable crop insurance indemnity payments on farm units with large yield reductions. However, producers that have “enterprise units” for their 2018 crop insurance coverage may have more difficulty verifying sufficient crop losses to gain substantial indemnity payments for the 2018 crop year. “Optional units” insure crops on an individual farm basis, so a producer can collect crop insurance indemnity payments on one or two farm units, while not receiving payments on other farm units. “Enterprise Units” require all the crop land of a given crop in a given County to show a crop loss, in order to receive crop insurance indemnity payments. Many producers have switched from “optional units” to “enterprise units” in recent years, due to significant savings in the crop insurance premium costs with “enterprise units”.



Note — For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and Senior

Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. (Phone — (507) 381-7960);

E-mail — kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com)


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