Crop Insurance can be confusing…it is a Federal Program after all so there are many rules. One of the most common questions I get in Central Montana is in regards to the Winter Option, Replants, early plant dates, and late plant dates. Ok, so that’s not one question it’s a couple, but understanding all of these concepts helps you to get the big picture.
Note – this article is pertaining to Winter Wheat in Montana for the 2022 Crop Year. There may be different rules in 2023 or beyond. We have no way of knowing.
In Montana there is NOT an early plant date limitation for Winter Wheat like there is for other Spring crops. The rule of thumb for Winter Wheat is that if the time you are planting the Wheat falls within “good farming practices” you are good to go. The first part of September is nothing out of the ordinary for Central Montana. If you are planting Winter Wheat in July; you will have some explaining to do!
In Montana if you seed Winter Wheat after 10.31, AND have the Winter Option (WO) on the policy, the acres seeded after 10.31 would not be eligible for the Winter Option. The acres seeded prior to 10.31 (as long as you have the WO) would be eligible. The “final plant date” is 11.15. You can seed after this date, but you begin to get penalized each day that passes 11.15. Check with me on your specific situation if you have a concern here.
Now that the Winter Wheat is planted, and insured, we can move on to the Spring. It is important to know that the “Base Policy” automatically includes the Replant Payment. In fact, you are required by the policy to perform a Replant if necessary.
Replant Payment –
In the Spring if the Winter Wheat does not come out of dormancy you can seed aka replant Spring Wheat directly into those acres (think portions of fields that did not come up) and the Acres are all considered Winter Wheat, and you take it to harvest and you either have a loss or you do not. You will get paid 4 x’s the Projected Price per acre.
Let’s say the Projected Price is $7.14. You would get paid 4 x $7.14 = $28.56 per acre for the Replant Payment.
The catch is that the number of acres needs to be a minimum of 20 acres or 20% of the Unit the acres are in.
If you have some spotty fields in the Spring be sure to reach out, and we can get a claim started so you get authorized by an adjuster.
Winter Option –
This is the “WO” option on your Wheat policy that you may or may not have. The deadline to decide if you would like to add/delete this Option is 9.30. The Option Cost varies depending on your Coverage Level, APH”s, acres, etc. However, you can safely assume it will cost you somewhere between $1.15 – $1.65 per acre more on your crop insurance to have it. What does it do then?
Well, remember the Replant Payment from above? You still have that option. That one is a “freebee.” What the Winter Option does is it gives you Options. In the Spring if your Winter Wheat does not look that great, and the damage is widespread (WO work better on a full Unit vs a handful of Acres FYI) with the WO you can do the following:
- Use your Replant payment
- Get an Appraisal on the Winter Wheat – the appraised Production counts as your Production for that Unit – see if there is a loss – Destroy the acres – collect your Winter Wheat loss*
When you take your Winter Wheat loss using the WO you will either get 35% of the loss or 100%. If you destroy the Winter Wheat and do NOT seed a second crop OR seed a second crop and do NOT insure the second crop – you get 100% of your Winter Wheat loss. If you seed a second crop, AND insure the second crop you only get 35% of the Winter Wheat loss. You then take the second crop to harvest. Whichever is greater – 65% Winter Wheat loss payment OR 100% Spring Crop loss payment – you get one or the other…not both. In the “good old days” you would get both. That option was called Option B. This is no longer around.
The other thing to consider when insuring the second crop is that you would owe the premium associated with those acres. Most of the time producers who use the Winter Option do NOT insure the second crop. However, from time to time people do. It really is a case by case basis on that one.
The advantage of the Winter Option is that you have more choices in the Spring. The disadvantage is the cost. I would say our clients are 50/50 on carrying the option. I feel like the producers that are into seeding pulse crops tend to have more Continuous Crop acres, and so they feel a little more exposure on the Winter Wheat not making it. They tend to carry the Winter Option more then others. However, if there is a lot of rain in late August and September producers feel they have pretty good moisture, so they elect to not take it. However, if an antelope crosses the Dent Bridge Road on the 17th of July at 3PM….point is – if we knew the future well enough to know for certain what the crops would do neither of us would be here today. We’d be on a yacht somewhere 🙂
I will put a “flow chart” from Rain & Hail in here that does a pretty good job discussing the First Crop / Second Crop stuff. In order to have the Winter Option you need to decided prior to the 9.30 deadline. Give me a call or email if you have any questions.
There are a lot of rules behind this program, so the above information is very high level. You will want to take a deeper dive into understanding the program before making a purchasing decision. Keep in mind the above information is for informational purposes only, and does not replace anything found in the Crop Insurance Handbook, Loss Adjustment Manual, RMA’s website, etc. Always consult the Crop Insurance Handbook, Loss Adjustment Manual, RMA’s website, etc. before making a purchasing decision. Any discrepancy between the above information and the policy is not intended. The information provided in this article does not supersede policy and procedure. Any changes to the policy and procedures may make this material obsolete.