Volunteer wheat can affect crop insurance plans

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Fields like this one south of Hillsboro were replanted with wheat in in patchwork-like areas. Wheat producers may have some questions about how this volunteer wheat will affect their crop insurance. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

Because of the weather in Kansas last spring, an abnormal amount of volunteer wheat can be found in Kansas wheat fields this fall.

volunteer wheat harbors disease, insects and weeds. These may include
wheat streak mosaic virus, wheat curl mites, Hessian fly and a number
of other problems.

Wheat producers may have some questions about how this volunteer wheat will affect their crop insurance.

following responses are from Rebecca Davis of the Topeka regional
office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency. It
was previously published in a recent Kansas State University Extension
Agronomy e-Update.

* * *

? Question: If farmers worked the ground one or more times to try to control volunteer wheat, but it came back up anyway after planting, will they be penalized if they made one last attempt to control the overly thick stand of volunteer, then replanted after the insurance cutoff date?

Davis: To keep insurance in force, any insured crop damaged (by the volunteer plants in this case) before the final planting date must be replanted if replanting is practical.

If insurable wheat is initially planted prior to the final planting date and the insured replants it, there would be no reduction in the guarantee for replanting after the final planting date.

However, if it is determined replanting took place in the late planting period and the replanting was made necessary by an uninsured cause of loss, there could be an appraisal for any loss determined to be the result of late planting.

Replanting payments are not available. If insurable wheat is damaged and it is not practical to replant, the acreage may be released to be put to another use and any claim can be finalized.

? Question: If wheat has been overtaken by a second or third late flush of thick volunteer and it is too late to replant, what will the farmer need to do to prove they tried everything they could to control the volunteer but it just kept coming? If no seed was available to replant, will that be taken into consideration?

Davis: Any time insured wheat is damaged before the final planting date and it is practical to replant, it must be replanted to keep insurance in force.

Availability of seed is not considered when determining whether it is practical to replant under the terms of the policy. Therefore, losses cannot be paid if replanting is required, but there is no seed available.

If replanting is not required, and the insured crop is overtaken by later flushes of volunteer wheat, insureds must be able to show they followed good farming practices when preparing acreage for planting, including any steps recommended by agricultural experts to prevent weeds or other excess volunteer plants, and that any recommended practices were followed to control volunteer plants.

? Question: If the stand is obviously too thick to have a chance of surviving or heading out, can the farmers spray it out now before the crop uses up too much soil moisture, and plan to plant a row crop next spring? What are the insurance considerations in this decision?

Davis: Before the insured sprays the acreage, he must contact his approved insurance provider so that (the provider) can inspect the acreage and determine if it is practical to replant or if they can release it to be destroyed.

To do otherwise will jeopardize any potential insurance payment as the acreage would be considered destroyed without consent.

If the insurance provider determines the wheat is insurable and pays a loss, a second crop can be planted and insured, or the producer may plant a second crop and elect not to insure it.

If the second crop is insured and there is a loss, any wheat indemnity would be limited to 35 percent of the indemnity that would otherwise be due.


Rebecca Davis can be reached by phone at 785-266-0248 or by e-mail at rebecca.davis@rma.usda.gov. This information came via Kansas Wheat, a cooperative effort of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Wheat Commission.

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