young soybean plant

Slightly Lower Condition Ratings Take Center Stage

With corn planting nearing completion at 96% for the week ending June 23, attention turns to condition.

Emergence is behind average by 10 percentage points at 89% in the 18 reporting states. In Iowa, emergence lags by 4 points; Nebraska, 5; Kansas, 6; and South Dakota, 20 points with only 79% of the crop emerging.

In the 18 states, the corn crop is rated 56% good/excellent and 12% poor/very poor this week, compared with 77% in the top categories and 5% in the bottom two last year. This also is down several points from the week earlier, and the market took note, bumping corn futures more than 4¢ higher through the December contract.






Poor/very poor


Poor/very poor
















South Dakota






Soybean planting – with its generally later final dates and late-planting period – still lags with just 85% planted compared with a five-year average of 97%. However, in the states we report, most are only 3 to 6 percentage points behind average. South Dakota at 84 percent planted is the exception, running 15% behind its usual pace.

Emergence in the 18 states is reported at 71%, 20 points behind average. In Iowa, 81% of the soybean crop is up (96% average); Kansas, 68% (78%); Nebraska, 85% (96%) and South Dakota, 92% (95%).

As the table above shows, soybean condition is rated fairly close to that of corn. It also has dropped a few percentage points from the prior week.

Other spring crops

Grain sorghum planting is 84% complete, according to USDA. The five-year average for this point in the planting period is 91% complete. Kansas reports the slowest pace at only 77% planted compared with 88% on average; Nebraska, at 91%, is seven points behind and South Dakota, at 92%, is one point ahead of average. Not much sorghum has headed in states outside of Texas. Condition in the states we report ranges from 67% good/excellent in Kansas to 80% in Nebraska. Only 1% to 3% is rated poor.

Sunflower planting is only a few points behind average. The four reported states reached 85% complete compared to their five-year average of 89%. Kansas is three points behind at 73; South Dakota is two points behind at 82%.

Winter wheat

Ninety-four percent of winter wheat in the 18 leading states has headed. The lowest percentage is in South Dakota, where only 80% has headed compared with an average there of 94%. Harvested acreage is less than half the average for the week ended June 23 – 15% vs. an average of 34%. What has been harvested is in the southern states. In the states we report, Kansas stands at just 5% (average 36%).

Pasture and range

Pasture and range conditions dropped 3% on the top end and increased 2% on the bottom end. But at 68% good/excellent and just 8% poor/very poor, condition is dramatically better than last year’s 49% and 20%.

Earlier Haying, Grazing and Chopping Allowed, RMA Says

Due to the unprecedented flooding and excessive rain this spring, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) will permit producers to hay or graze cover crops on prevent plant acres as of September 1 instead of waiting until November 1 and still maintain eligibility for prevented planting indemnity.

RMA also is applying the same date to chop cover crops for silage, haylage and baleage.

It is important to note that this change does NOT change what is considered an approved cover crop and insureds must continue to follow all other rules regarding prevented planting and cover crops. For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement (approved cover crop types will vary by area).

Additional information regarding cover crops can be found on the RMA website and the NRCS website.

Note: This deadline change applies to 2019 only. Please contact your insurance officer if you have any questions about your crop insurance coverage.

Other USDA agencies also are assisting producers with delayed or prevented planting. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) extended the deadline to report prevented plant acres in select counties, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is holding special sign-ups for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in certain states to help with planting cover crops on impacted lands. Contact your local FSA and NRCS offices to learn more.

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Planting Progress: What We Do – and Don’t – Know

Two consecutive weeks of drier weather gave producers more field days for planting progress. Iowa had 10.5 days of suitable fieldwork for the weeks ending June 9 and June 16; Kansas, 10.4; Nebraska, 10; and South Dakota, 9.3.

In the 18 states, USDA reports 92% of corn planted and 77 of soybeans planted as of June 19. By state:

State Corn planted Average Soybeans planted Average
Iowa 98 100 89 98
Kansas 96 99 74 82
Nebraska 98 100 91 98
South Dakota 78 100 70 98


However, be careful in interpreting these numbers, cautions David Widmar of Agricultural Economic Insights. Some farmers are switching crops during this period of delayed planting, identifying fields that can’t be planted, etc. Consider the impact of a farmer who intended to plant 100 acres of corn and 100 acres of beans, but now is switching 20 acres from corn to beans. Instead of being 80% finished, the farmer now is 100% finished with corn planting. Conversely, the 20 additional acres of soybeans might still be unplanted and not accounted for in USDA’s report on planting progress.

Widmar also cautions that USDA’s reduction in corn acreage and yields in its June 11 World Supply and Demand (WASDE) estimates can be misinterpreted as well. USDA always includes an assumption of some prevent plant acres.

“Our best estimate is a base rate of 1.6 million, plus a 3 million reduction from intended,” says Widmar. “So when you read a forecast for 5 million acres prevented, it doesn’t mean a 5 million reduction because a base number was already subtracted before the estimate in the WASDE.”

The next USDA number will be the June 28 planted acreage report, but even that will not be up to date. The survey is conducted during the first two weeks of June; decisions made in the final two weeks will be a blind spot for the report, Widmar points out.

Shift to beans?

Since soybeans have a later planting period, some analysts foresee the shift from corn to soybeans. But history doesn’t bear that out. Average prevent plant is 1.8% for corn and 1.2% for soybeans. Most often when one crop has higher prevented planting, both do. Click to view Widmar’s full report.

Other crops

Grain sorghum in the six reporting states is 69% planted, well behind the 81% that, on average, is planted by now. Kansas stands at 55% (average 71%); Nebraska 80% (94%); South Dakota 68% (84%).

Spring wheat planting is close to complete at 95% in the six states, just 2 percentage points behind average. South Dakota’s crop is 97% planted, also 2 points behind.

Winter wheat harvest is slow, with only 8% of the crop completed compared with a 20% average. The important Kansas crop is only 1% done, 11 points behind average. Nebraska and South Dakota farmers have not yet started wheat harvest, which is typical.

This week’s forecast for storms isn’t a harbinger of fast progress this week – and we are approaching the date when crops either get in the ground or go unplanted. It will take some time for the ending facts to be known.

Veteran Farmer and Rancher Crop Insurance Benefits Now Available

USDA announced this spring that military veterans now qualify for the same benefits as beginning farmers and ranchers. These include:

  • Waiver of the administrative fee on catastrophic risk protection (CAT) and additional coverage policies.
  • Additional premium subsidy of 10 percentage points on insurance plans that feature a standard premium subsidy. (Plans such as livestock gross margin (LGM) for cattle or swine that do not have premium subsidies are not eligible for the additional subsidies.) Note: producers cannot receive both a veteran and beginning farmer and rancher subsidy; 10 percentage points is the limit.
  • Use of another person’s production history for the specific acreage transferred to a veteran farmer or rancher previously involved in the decision-making or physical activities of a farm or ranch operation.
  • Increase the percent of T-yield used for yield adjustment from 60% to 80% when replacing a low actual yield due to an insured cause of loss.

Who meets the definition of a farmer or rancher veteran?

  • A person who served in the active military, naval or air service in the Armed Forces and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable;
  • First obtained status as a veteran within the last five years;
  • Has not operated a farm or ranch or has operated a farm or ranch for less than five years.

There are restrictions regarding entities:

  • A spouse’s veteran farmer and rancher status does not affect qualification.
  • Partnerships and corporations cannot be a “veteran”. Instead, members must qualify as individuals. If they include members with a substantial beneficial interest (SBI) who are not veterans, it cannot qualify.
  • If the farmer/rancher veteran insures the landlord’s share on the same insurance policy, the veteran cannot qualify.

Other rules:

  • Veteran status is continuous and reapplication is not necessary, although the status lapses after five years as a farm/ranch operator or five years after military discharge.
  • A farmer/rancher veteran may still qualify as a new producer on a crop/county basis.
  • If a producer qualifies as both a veteran and beginning farmer or rancher, he/she chooses one program.

Deadline for application for the 2019 crop is your crop insurance acreage reporting date, which is July 15 in our service area. For subsequent years, it will be the sales closing date.

Contact your Frontier Farm Credit crop insurance officer with any questions or for help with the application today!

Click to view more information on the USDA website.

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Producers: Control What You Can Control

If there was one thing that U.S. producers could count on in this period of uncertainty in agriculture, it was their skill as growers. But just planting a crop has proven challenging in 2019. Now more than ever, it is important to focus on what you can control.

For those adversely impacted by weather, that means making the right financial decision for your operation during this late planting period. For all producers, it means keeping marketing top of mind to maximize profitability.

Delayed Planting Decisions

The usual applications of fertilizer, chemicals and seed have been disrupted for many producers by wet conditions that stretch back to last fall. The current inputs they carry might be limited to equipment, cash rent, real estate payments and taxes. Producers in this situation need to assess how taking prevent plant payments vs. planting a different crop than originally planned affects their ability to meet their financial obligations.

This can be an emotional decision for men and women whose livelihood depends on growing and selling a commodity. The key is to talk to your crop insurance agent about your unique financial obligations and how your planting decisions impact that.

Revenue Protection

While still lagging, planting has picked up the past couple of weeks and producers have crop in the ground. Take advantage of upswings in the market and use your Revenue Protection coverage to market with confidence. The more you make marketing part of your daily decision-making the more control you will have over your operation and its finance well-being.