Act early if crops still in field

Unharvested crop could cause income shortfalls or extra spring harvest costs that would make it difficult to meet loan payments.  |  File photo

CAMROSE, Alta. — Farmers who left unharvested crops in the field last fall should get in touch with their lenders to discuss cash flow needs and loan repayments.

“Contact your lender and get hold of them early so they have time to sit down with you and work on your file because you are not the only one,” Rob Schmeichel, director for the Edmonton zone with Farm Credit Canada, said in an interview at the Alberta Federation of Agriculture Jan. 18-19.

“Don’t wait until the night before the payment is due.”

Income shortfalls could be a problem this spring. Affected farmers need money to finish last fall’s work before getting ready for spring seeding.

“There are different cycles when people need cash for loan payments and operational needs or to get the crop in the ground next year,” Schmeichel said.

Producers need to do a detailed assessment of what they have available financially and then do a working capital cash flow projection for the next year.

Information should include grain inventory in the bin, unharvested acres, spring seeding costs and cash needs.

“Do a detailed cash projection for what you know you need on your farm and be detailed about it because that helps the lender out,” he said.

Payment schedule amendments have been offered in some cases for those with unharvested acres.

“It is entirely doable, but we need a little bit of time to make it happen,” he said at the AFA meeting.

Alberta producers also need to be proactive on crop insurance claims, said Schmeichel.

“Make sure you get the answers you need from crop insurance and don’t be scared to put a little proactive follow-up on crop insurance,” he said.

“Some of the frustration for producers is they are not getting clarity from crop insurance.”

Many policies have a cap on what percentage of yield and acres are covered. Some producers may not be eligible for a payout, so they need to know where they stand financially.

Farmers with crop insurance through Alberta Financial Services Corp. were asked to detail their unharvested acres on the crop harvest production reports by Nov. 15.

In an email, AFSC reported that as of Jan. 19, there were 2,119 unharvested crop claims throughout Alberta from Taber in the south to Grimshaw and Peace River in the north.

As of Jan. 20, about 720 claims have been completed, 400 were in process with an adjuster and 991 were waiting for an adjuster.

The estimated total of unharvested acres is slightly higher than one million acres in Alberta. Estimated payout for the loss of crop on unharvested acres will be around $47 million, said Mustafa Eric of AFSC.

The crop report from Alberta Agriculture Nov. 29 said the northeast, northwest and Peace districts have the most crop left behind because of extremely wet conditions.

Eighty-one percent of the harvest was completed in the northeast, 82.4 percent in the northwest and 84.6 percent n the Peace district.

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Unharvested acreage in Saskatchewan was estimated at 1.5 million acres in December, and crop insurance extensions had been granted to 6,855 producers who hadn’t finished harvest by the Nov. 15 reporting deadline.

The west-central region had the most crop remaining in the field with only 89 percent of it in the bin by the Nov. 21 final crop report. However, crop was still out in all regions, including nine percent in the northeast, five percent in the northwest and two percent in all other areas.

The situation is much better in Manitoba. David Van Deynze, vice-president of insurance operations at Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp., said only one percent of the province’s crop wasn’t harvested, which represents slightly more than 100,000 acres.

Officials had expected that seven to eight percent would be left out heading into November, but good weather allowed most farmers to finish combining.

“At one percent it’s not overly concerning,” Van Deynze said.

“It certainly would be for some farmers that are more affected than others, but from a provincial perspective it’s not that big of an issue.”

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