With dry conditions continuing to persist throughout the High Plains, many of the region’s winter wheat acres have either been lost or are doing poorly enough that growers are considering switching to an alternative spring-seeded second crop, either cotton or grain sorghum, for harvest in 2011.

Dryland producers wanting to plant and insure cotton or another spring-seeded crop this year need to contact their insurance providers immediately to begin the process of getting acreage appraised and released prior to the wheat reaching the headed stage of development. Failure to have non-irrigated wheat acres released before heading occurs could prevent a non-irrigated second crop from being insurable in 2011.

Also, since at least 2002, the USDA Risk Management Agency has had a zero tolerance policy regarding the insurability of non-irrigated cotton or other crops behind non-irrigated wheat that has reached the headed stage of development, regardless of the number of the heads present.

Despite that caveat, a review of the rules for both cotton and grain sorghum shows that growers do have two options available to allow planting and insuring these crops on both irrigated and non-irrigated acreage following winter wheat.

Today, growers who want to plant cotton on winter wheat acreage will be bound by the terms of the policy they have in place. To initiate a crop change in irrigated or non-irrigated wheat acres now, growers need to contact their insurance provider and request an APH appraisal of the wheat acreage.

Once the appraisal is completed a grower has two options.

First, he can file a claim for a loss based on the appraised production amount if it is less than the grower’s minimum-coverage yield guarantee.

Second, if the appraised production level is equal to or above the minimum -coverage yield guarantee, the grower can accept the appraisal and have that amount of production entered into his Actual Production History database.


Once again, timing is critical for producers interested in planting cotton on non-irrigated wheat acreage in 2011. The only option for growers to plant an insured, non-irrigated second crop behind non-irrigated wheat in the same insurance year is for the initial crop of wheat to be appraised, released and destroyed before it reaches the headed stage.