Mikkel Pates, Forum News Service, Published June 28 2013
Report indicates 2 million acres went unplanted in NDFARGO – North Dakota and Minnesota are among states assessing how much prevented planting acres and damaged crops there are in the region, as a result of excess moisture.
Aaron Krauter, North Dakota state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency in Fargo, says preliminary reports indicate about 2 million acres might not have been planted in North Dakota.
“That’s a guesstimate – totally a guesstimate,” Krauter says.
This guess is based solely on how slowly farmers are reporting their planted acres to the FSA. Typically, they’d be half done reporting as of June 18, but because farmers are still struggling to plant, they’re not coming in as expected. The deadline for reporting acreage is July 15, he says.
If acres are prevent-planted, farmers typically are required to notify the FSA within 72 hours of making that decision. In early June, however, the agency extended the deadline for that kind of reporting, in part to avoid farmers having to come into the office multiple times for different parcels.
Northern tier counties in the state, including Pembina, Cavalier, Rolette, Bottineau and Pierce, are expected to be the hardest hit, along with McHenry, Pierce, Benson, Ramsey and Walsh.
Farther southwest counties in the western part of the state were largely planted, but some have indicated that “the day they finished planting, the rains came and now we’ve got failed acres – acres sitting in water, acres sitting too wet to spray,” Krauter says.
There are some prevented planting acres in other counties – McLean, Sheridan, Wells, Foster and Eddy – but not in the high numbers in the northernmost counties, Krauter says.
USDA has a state emergency board of key officials from various state agencies. They can request the county emergency committees to start quantifying local impacts. The state FSA was to decide Monday whether to take this step. One of the steps that may be decided is whether to extend the deadline for reporting acreage to the agency.
Krauter says the record amount of prevented planting acres in the state was 5.6 million of the 22 million planted farm and ranch acres, in 2011. That was followed by a 162,000-acre year in 2012, which was nearly ideal for most farmers in the state. Other big totals were 2010, 1.7 million acres; 2009, 2 million acres; 2001, 2.1 million acres; and 1999, 3.9 million acres.
Debra Crusoe, Minnesota state FSA director, says her agency is also studying “several pockets” of prevented planting incidences in the state.
One area in the northwest Red River Valley starts in the Thief River Falls, Minn., area and comes down through the middle of the state to north of Interstate 94.
A big area of prevented planting will be in southeast Minnesota, where farmers also were heavily affected by winter kill and forage shortages. County emergency boards are meeting and have almost completed their assessments in that state. The state Emergency Board, consisting of all USDA agencies, will meet before the end of the month, says Crusoe, a longtime FSA state official but state director since the first week in May.
“Based on that, we’ll move forward, possibly requesting a secretarial disaster designation,” Crusoe says. In addition, the FSA is trying to get the message out for farmers to get in touch with crop insurance agents to make sure they understand the prevented planting rules.
She notes that the final date for corn to be planted without adjustments was May 25 in the north and May 31 in the southern part of the state. The percentages of coverage declined until June 25. After that, corn can’t be covered by the crop insurance.