It's September, this is usually the calm before the harvest storm. Farmers are busy getting combines and harvesting equipment ready. And they're checking fields, estimating crop maturity and yield potential. What else might they want to include on their "things to do list" this month? With the help of Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist Steve Johnson, we've come up with the following nine items. You may want to add more.
Stored grain insect pests are an economic concern in Iowa. "Growers should think about taking preventive measures now, before harvest, to protect grain quality," advises Erin Hodgson, Iowa State University Extension entomologist. "Infestations can directly reduce grain weight and nutritional value, in addition to indirectly causing mold and other contaminations."
1) Clean out grain bins and handling equipment, spray for insects. Sanitation is perhaps the most important practice for storing and protecting grain. Removing potential pests and thoroughly cleaning bins before filling with new crop grain this fall is time well spent, adds Hodgson. "New grain should never be stored on top of old grain," she says. "Remove the old grain and clean bins before adding new grain."
* Clean all grain handling equipment before harvest and storage of new grain, including combines, wagons, trucks, augers, aeration fans, etc. Remove any grain or grain dust from inside the bins by sweeping empty bins and brushing down the walls. Remove any spilled grain from around the outside of the bin and storage facility.
* Carefully inspect storage bins, and seal/caulk any cracks, holes or gaps that could be potential entry points for insects and rodents. Look for possible moisture leaks in the roof and repair if necessary. Remove weeds and vegetation from within 10 feet of storage bins to discourage insects from establishing.
* The inside walls and floors should be treated with a residual insecticide after thorough cleaning. The outside walls (up to 15 feet) and outside base of grain storage bins may also be treated. The area beneath the perforated, drying floor should be cleaned and treated with a residual insecticide. Treating empty bins is most effective when insect activity is likely (temperatures over 60 degrees F).
For more information, visit the ISU Extension Crops Knowledgebase website and read the article "Think About Stored Grain Pests Before Harvest."
2) Do you plan to hold over old crop corn or soybeans in on-farm storage? For crop insurance purposes, you need to have that grain bin measured before adding new crop bushels, says ISU's Steve Johnson. Contact your crop insurance agent so they can get an adjuster assigned in advance of harvest. Johnson and his colleagues on the ISU Extension farm management team held over 70 meetings around the state in July and August discussing crop marketing, cash flow planning, farm leasing, cash rent and related topics as farmers look ahead to 2016. Following are some other topics farmers are asking about.
3) How about enrolling in the ARC-PLC Program? Don't forget to do this. You don't want to miss receiving a farm program payment if a payment is made in your county. Even though you elected to participate in either the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program earlier this year, you still need to enroll in the program annually. "Contact your local FSA office now, if you still need to enroll," advises Johnson. "You need to enroll by September 30 for both the 2014 and 2015 crop years. We've known about this September 30 enrollment deadline since early June, don't wait any longer. Contact your FSA office today."
4) September 25 is the deadline to change FSA offices. Under a new FSA policy, federal farm payments will be based on the county in which the FSA farm is administered, not the county in which the FSA farm is physically located. This past year the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association worked with the FSA to ensure that owners and operators would be able to transfer farms (without a farm combination) to another administrative county, beginning in the 2015 crop year.
A request must be made by September 25, 2015, so that it can go before the FSA county committee for approval. This is especially important if you were previously served by a FSA county office that has been closed, and FSA has transferred your records to a county where the county yields are lower than the county in which your farm is located. Contact your local FSA office to learn more.
5) Won't most Iowa farms likely be receiving USDA farm program payments sometime around mid-October? "Not all counties triggered revenue losses," says Johnson, "but the majority for corn and a little less than one-half the counties for soybeans. Statewide, about $50 per acre for corn base acres and about $20 per acre for soybeans. Those payments won't be known until late September when both the 2014 FSA county yields and 2014-15 Marketing Year Average national cash prices are released. Remember, ISU Extension created both a 2014 and 2015 ARC-County payment calculators and posted to the ISU Ag Decision Maker website under 2014 Farm Bill section."
6) How about crop insurance losses? Notify your agent before chopping corn or harvesting a crop that you have potential losses from hail, wind or flood. Johnson also is reminding farmers about another crop insurance consideration: Farmers just received their 2015 invoices for crop insurance. What should they be looking for on those invoices? "Match your planting records to the farm's crop insurance information and acres insured," he says. "Double check the product, likely Revenue Protection, and the potential premiums the farmer pays."
7) When are 2015 crop insurance premiums due? October 1 or earlier to avoid interest being charged, answers Johnson. That's usually 15% annual percentage rate or APR, he notes.
8) Is there a new crop insurance product available for 2016? "Margin Protection is new for 2016 and can be purchased in addition to the normal Revenue Protection, but you must use the same agent," says Johnson. "The price discovery period is still underway, so the premium has not yet been determined. It looks like premiums at the 90% level are going to run about $30 to $40 per corn acre statewide. This Margin Protection product uses county yields so the revenue guarantee is more like the Area Revenue Protection. Keep in mind that if you have a 2016 margin loss, it won't payout until late February 2017."
Note: You need to purchase Margin Protection for the 2016 crop by September 30.
9) Remember, property taxes are due. Everyone needs to write out those checks to the County Treasurer for first-half property taxes. What's that deadline to avoid a penalty for late payment? It's September 30.
There a lots of "things to do" this month in addition to getting ready for harvest!
For farm management information and analysis visit ISU's Ag Decision Maker site at extension.iastate.edu/agdm; ISU farm management specialist Steve Johnson's site is at extension.iastate.edu/polk/farm-management.