September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"We got 15 inches of snow on May 2, and that wrecked the month of May for us (for planting corn)," said Connelly, who has a 100-cow dairy near Byron, Minn.
Because of this, Connelly decided to put 114 acres into prevented planting for the year and will receive money for his land instead of a crop.
"I'd rather have the corn for feed," Connelly said.
During the month of May, there were three days - May 14-16 - when Connelly was able to plant about 60 percent of his normal corn crop, which is usually 300 acres. The rest of the fields were in lower lying areas that were still very wet.
"It's some of our best ground. It's even tiled," Connelly said.
When the rest of the fields where he planned to plant corn weren't drying out towards the end of the month, Connelly looked for other options. On May 20, he started thinking about signing up for prevented planting through his insurance, and decided on that option by the end of the month.
To be in the program, Connelly had to stop trying to plant corn or soybeans on the designated area of land by June 1. Even though he is still allowed to plant other items on these fields, Connelly may not harvest any crops from it until Nov. 1.
"That many acres of corn (114) is a cash crop for us," said Connelly, who usually sells a portion of his harvest every year. "In theory, if we have a good crop, we don't need the forage from that ground."
But this year has been a different story. About 90 percent of his alfalfa was lost to winter kill.
"Fortunately we had a good feed inventory and will be fine until second crop," Connelly said.
Of his alfalfa acres, some was reseeded while others were direct seeded with triticale and sorghum.
On the 114 acres he put into prevented planting, Connelly plans to plant oats, rye and millet. The rye will be used for feed, while the oats will be used for both feed and bedding. Millet will be only used for bedding.
Rich Bauer, the county executive director for Olmsted and Dodge County Farm Service Agency (FSA) works with the insurance companies to sort out the prevented planting program for farmers.
"A vast majority of the producers will have to claim it (preventive planting)," Bauer said.
Bauer said farmers in southeast Minnesota are receiving about $400 to $500 per acre.
At a recent meeting in Rochester about prevented planting, Bauer said nearly 500 farmers attended from southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa.
"It's going to be tough for everyone, but especially for livestock producers," Bauer said. "Feed is going to be in short supply."
In addition to feed, Connelly also thinks bedding will be hard to come by for dairy farmers.
"It's a concern looking down the road," Connelly said. "We use a lot of corn stalks for bedding."
Last fall, Connelly said many farmers in his area made more corn stalk round bales than normal; however, many of those bales were used during the extra-wet spring. With many farmers in the prevented planting program no longer growing corn, corn stalks will be harder to find.
"And many of the acres of corn out there now might go into chopping," Connelly said. "We might be hurting on bedding in the fall."
Connelly said in the future he hopes the date for harvest can be pushed up earlier in the year for prevented planting acres.
"There might be snow on the ground by Nov. 1," Connelly said. "The best thing to do would be to put a cover crop on it ... We (dairy farmers) are concerned about the environment just as much as anybody. Moving up the date (from Nov. 1) would help."
Although prevented planting - along with growing millet - is something Connelly has never done, he hopes it was the right option for him and his farm.
"You have to roll the dice on something," Connelly said. "We'll see what happens."
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