Excessive moisture from the May 16-17 storm might result in more crop insurance claims than frost.
“From our perspective the amount of rain and snow that came with this storm is probably as big a concern as the frost itself,” David Van Deynze, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s (MASC) manager of claim services said May 20. “We got some areas, especially in southwest Manitoba that got between two and four inches of rain and that is really going to hamper their ability to seed this year in some areas, because they were already struggling with excess moisture issues.”
Last week MASC was getting calls from concerned farmers inquiring about submitting reseeding claims due to frost. MASC told farmers to wait a few days to see just how badly crops were hurt by widespread frost May 17.
“We want to give the crop three, four, five days to either recover or show that it’s totally dead as far as frost is concerned,” Van Deynze said.
Most calls came from the Pilot Mound, Manitou and Morden areas and were about canola, which is less frost tolerant than cereals.
Wet fields prevented MASC officials from assessing crop damage and forced farmers to be patient because most couldn’t reseed even if they wanted to.
Barring more rain, MASC expected to be inspecting fields for damage this week, Van Deynze said.
Last year MASC paid out $63 million under Excess Moisture Insurance (EMI) on 998,000 acres too wet to seed. There were 2,400 claims, many of them from southwest Manitoba.
That was up significantly from 219,241 and 117,623 insured acres too wet to plant in 2012 and 2013.
A record 2.9 million acres were too wet to seed in 2011, triggering $162 million in payments on 5,800 claims under EMI program. Including uninsured land, nearly 3.1 million acres were too wet to seed that year.
Although there are a few outstanding claims to settle, crop insurance payouts for 2014 will total around $170 million, Van Deynze said. EMI payouts will account for 37 per cent of it.
“Overall it was a fairly average year for us,” he said, with payouts being slightly lower than the premiums collected. “Losses were spread out around the province, but again the southwest was harder hit.
Hail insurance is a separate program. Hail claims last year were lower than average triggering $12.4 million in payments, which are not included in the $170 million paid out under regular crop insurance, said Van Deynze.
In addition to EMI claims, excessive moisture cut some farmers’ crop yields triggering an insurance payout.
Poor-quality winter wheat also triggered crop insurance payouts.
“That was probably the biggest thing that was not normal (in 2014),” Van Deynze said.
“The fusarium levels were pretty high, which made it pretty hard to market and they (farmers) weren’t getting real good prices for their winter wheat.”
Depending on the level of coverage the farmer selects, crop insurance pays out when yields fall below their coverage levels. Coverage includes a guaranteed grade for most crops. For winter wheat it’s No. 3 Canada Western Red Winter.