Manitoba crop insurance officials were bracing for unseeded area claims covering up to one million acres as the June 20 deadline passed last weekend.
Although the final tally won’t be known until the claims are processed, the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation is anticipating about 2,100 claims covering nearly 10 per cent of Manitoba’s 9.2 million acres of cultivated farmland from farmers who’s seeding intentions were derailed by excess moisture.
If the estimate is accurate, the number of unseeded acres would rival the 600,000 that didn’t get planted due to excess moisture in 2004, but falls short of the 1.4 million recorded in 2005. That year, crop insurance paid out $58.3 million in excess moisture claims, contributing to a record crop insurance payout of $295.2 million.
Unseeded acres due to excess moisture is automatically
covered for farmers enrolled in crop insurance, but to get it penalty-free farmers needed to have filed a claim through their seeded acreage report by June 22. Those who didn’t have until June 30, which is when seeded acreage reports are due, but they will forfeit 25 per cent of their payout to a maximum of $500, said Craig Thomson, MASC’s vice-president of insurance operations.
Under excess moisture coverage farmers will receive $50 for each unseeded acre, less a five per cent deductible. For example, a farmer with 100 unseeded acres will receive $50 an acre on 95 acres or $4,750. There’s an additional five per cent deduction for farmers who filed for excess moisture coverage last year and 10 per cent for those who had claims the previous two years.
Seeding in the Fisher Branch region last week was just 10 to 20 per cent completed due to wet fields, MASC’s manager of claim services David Van Deynze said in an interview.
“We’re thinking we could get 400,000 to 500,000 acres (of unseeded land) from that region alone,” he said. “Then, if you throw in those with five to 10 per cent not done just in the pothole country it starts to add up. That area in the Interlake will be a big chunk of our total.”
This spring has been tough for Manitoba farmers and MASC. Reseeding claims are up 75 per cent from than the five-year average, but similar to last year. As of June 16, MASC had close to 1,800 claims registered, Van Deynze said. The average is 1,028.
Much of the province has been colder and wetter than normal. And where it wasn’t wetter than usual, the cool temperatures made it seem that way.
In May, most weather stations received half to two-thirds of their average Growing Degree Days (days with a temperature of 5C or more). It was the coldest spring across the West in 35 years (except for Lethbridge and Swift Current where it was the second and third coldest spring on record, respectively), according to Bruce Burnett, the Canadian Wheat Board’s director of Weather and Market Analysis.
About 800 of this year’s claims (excluding those for excess moisture) were the result of frost damage June 6. Most came from the central and eastern regions, Van Deynze said.
“It got a little better as you went west of our Somerset office,” he said. “We had some claims, but certainly not as many.”
The number of acres lost and the amount of money to be paid to farmers won’t be known until farmers file their seeded acreage reports June 30.
Most of the claims were on canola. Some fields weren’t damaged as much as first feared.
“It was relatively cool and wet (following the frost), which helps the plant recover to a certain degree, so I don’t think as many acres will get worked down as originally thought,” Van Deynze said.
Sunflowers, edible beans, flax and the odd soybean and corn field were damaged by frost too.
MASC has also received around 700 claims this year on winter wheat that didn’t survive the winter.
“It sounds like through the Red River Valley and eastern part of the province a high percentage of the original winter wheat acres got worked under from what we’re told,” Van Deynze said.
Last year, MASC received just 225 winter wheat reseeding claims. The rest of last year’s early claims resulted from poor germination due to cool, dry conditions, especially in the southwest and a late frost in late May, which caused widespread injury to young canola plants. [email protected]