Friday is the USDA's final planting date for corn in southeastern South Dakota, but with many fields still flooded, area farmers have found themselves unable to meet crop insurance deadlines.
According to the USDA's Risk Management Agency, farmers who are unable to plant at least 20 acres or 20 percent of their insured crop acreage by the final planting date have four options, none of which provide the same level of insurance as they would have if they planted each crop before its scheduled final planting date.
If farmers opt not to plant anything in that acreage, they can receive a prevented planting payment. They can alternatively choose to plant either the insured crop or a different crop before the late planting period ends, or they can plant a cover crop.
Each of those options offers a different percentage of reimbursement to compensate for failed or unplanted crops, depending on the type of crop insurance that was purchased earlier this year.
The USDA's Risk Management Agency encourages farmers with federal prevented planting insurance who have either been unable to plant before the final planting date or who will have to replant to contact their insurance agent to discuss next steps. Farmers are required to get written permission from an insurance agent to replant, abandon or destroy a crop.
Delmont farmer Jay Kokes told The Daily Republic on Wednesday that he's been unable to plant any corn to date this year.
"I've been farming for 22 years. Obviously, I've never had a year where we've never planted anything," Kokes said. "This year, it's just looking like not much, unless it really changes."
Kokes said that not only are his fields still muddy, but he's unable to get to some of them because the roads to them are washed out.
"Our roads are shot," he said. "People are struggling to get their cows out to pasture. Even a lot of the pastures have so much water in them that you're losing a lot of the grass. It's not a pretty picture."
As of the end of last week, percentages of planted and emerged crops were well behind both five-year averages and where they were at this time last year.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service, by May 26, 25 percent of corn had been planted, compared to a 90 percent five-year average. Soybeans and sorghum were reported at 6 and 2 percent planted, respectively, compared to five-year averages of 64 and 36 percent.
After the final planting date for a crop passes, farmers lose 1 percent of their guaranteed coverage per day that they continue to plant. For instance, if Kokes, who purchased 75 percent coverage, planted corn until June 15, he would only receive a 60-percent guaranteed reimbursement on any failed corn.
Kokes said he hopes to plant at least 40 acres of corn this year, the minimum for him to keep his insurance premium down. He said at least some of that will not be sold and will simply go toward feeding cattle, and that he hopes for better luck with planting soybeans, which have a final planting date of June 10.
"Hopefully it turns around and all the farmers get a chance to plant, because the next step is, it's going to affect all the small little communities that thrive on agriculture," Kokes said.