Farmers who are considering not watering before planting this spring as
a way to save on production costs may want to think again.
USDA’s Risk Management Agency has changed the basic crop provisions
rule for 2005, so that farmers who pre-watered in the past but decide
not to this year could see their current actual production histories adjusted.
APH, used to determine crop insurance coverage levels, is an average based
on four to 10 years of yield data.
The changes made to the basic crop provisions in August 2004 outline a
number of situations where farmers could see their APH adjusted downward
on all major crops except wheat.
DTN Agronomist Dan Davidson said it’s difficult to know how many
farmers and number of acres will be affected by the new rules.
He said the RMA considers pre-watering to be a best-management practice
and that most of that is done in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
“My own gut instinct is that it is in these three states and probably
not much even in Kansas,” Davidson said. “Again the key is
spring rainfall patterns and spring drying weather. In Texas they have
a lot of drying before planting goes on because temps are warmer and that
will dry out the soil enough that the crop will not germinate. So pre-watering
will help get the surface to have enough moisture to germinate.”
He said many farmers believe there will be enough available surface moisture
this upcoming planting season.
Dan Delano, a spokesperson for the crop insurance company Rain and Hail
LLC in Omaha, said the new provisions were added by RMA as a result of
the Fraud, Waste and Abuse Act of 2000.
He said farmers who usually pre-water will likely be required to use production
records from a year when pre-watering was not done if they decide not
Depending on the years selected, Delano said the APH may or may not be
For example, let’s say a non-irrigated crop unit is typically watered
once before planting but the crop is not watered prior to planting for
the current crop year.
Delano said the approved APH yield would be adjusted to be consistent
with other non-irrigated units where a crop had not been watered prior
to planting previously. It could be limited to the non-irrigated transitional
yield if other such units do not exist in a farmers APH database, according
Delano also said farmers should be aware of another change in RMP’s
rules regarding APH. He said the rules now say that if the actual yield
reported is “excessive” for any crop year the approved yield
will be adjusted.
Delano said the Federal Crop Insurance Corp. defines “excessive”
yields as those of at least four times the county average for a given
crop. If verifiable records are unavailable to support such a yield, the
yield will be adjusted.
For example, he said an excessive yield could occur if a farmer decides
to plant a crop on ground previously used as a feedlot, where the soil
is typically more fertile as a result of animal waste.
Yield also will be adjusted if the approved APH yield is greater than
115 percent of the average of approved yields on record, or greater than
115 percent of the county transitional yield if a comparable database
Under the Federal Crop Insurance Act transitional yield is the maximum
average production per acre or the equivalent measure that is assigned
to acreage for a crop year.