June is bustin’ out all over…. From the 1950’s musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, “Carousel” – you can look it up!
After the 2013/2014 winter that seemed to last forever, this last week we finally found some springtime in the central part of the country. While the calendar indicates that spring is to begin on or about March 21st, we found that winter storms dumped snow and cold rain across the Midwest through the month of April.
The month of May showed sporadic warmth across the corn belt with some warmer temperatures, but also several periods of cold rain. On the positive side, across a wide area of drought stricken west Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, generous rains over Memorial Day weekend gave rise to some very needed optimism. Too late to help an embattled winter wheat crop, it was very beneficial to spring planted crops in need of a very good year.
The end of May and early June are our busiest time for crop hail business as certain states have carryover coverage that ends on May 31st. The history of crop hail is that June is a period that allows the potential buyers to assess the state of their planted crops, look at expected harvest prices, look at the weather forecast and make a decision about if and how much crop hail insurance to buy for the year.
The drought has been a long term problem in the southern plains for the crop hail business. The fact is that an MPCI policy was covering – unfortunately – 100% or more of the actual cash value of the crop in the field. ProAg lost 50% of our crop hail premium volume in Texas as the wheat and cotton crops – unless irrigated – were not worth placing crop hail coverage over a wide area, and this has been the case since 2011. Hopefully, we can dust off the applications and write some decent crop hail business on cotton this year for a welcome change.
As the calendar turned to June, we also watched The Weather Channel track intense storms that produced scary wind and hail storms that spanned several hundred miles. On June 4th, one of these started in South Dakota and blew on a northwest to southeast track across northeast Nebraska, southwest Iowa and finally lost power over Missouri. The video and pictures from hail damage at a car dealership in Blair, Nebraska went viral as large hail and 80 MPH wind was “bustin” out car windows – literally. The crops in the path of this same storm fared no better than the automobiles.
MC grew up on a farm about 15 miles north “as the crow flies” from this car dealership on the south side of Blair. While we were a bit lucky in Burt County to miss most of the hail from the epic storm, we did see the wind and here is a picture of a center pivot installed by my brother Dennis and me last year. Thanks to the recent four plus inches of rain, we have time to have it repaired for the expected July heat. The insurance company for center pivots will be quite busy because there were dozens of pivots in Nebraska overturned by this storm.
So, Mother Nature is still in charge out on the farm. 80% or 85% coverage on your MPCI policy provides a substantial amount of coverage, but if a grower has enterprise units or a better than average prospect for a 2014 crop, nothing fills in the gap like a ProAg crop hail policy. If they have not yet signed up for 2014, now is the time to get it done. As that storm raged across Nebraska and Iowa last week, the phone calls were buzzing into our offices making sure the I’s were dotted and T’s crossed on 2014 coverage. This shapes up as a year when crop hail coverage is back in style, June is definitely “bustin out all over”!
Questions or comments are always welcome and thanks for taking the time to read this blog…