Maine Grain and Oilseed Newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 1 – March 2015

In this issue:

Dear Grower,

This first issue of the Maine Grain and Oilseed Newsletter for 2015 contains articles on crop insurance and the upcoming purchase deadline, the Maine Grain Conference to be held in Bangor on March 13th, and useful online resources for grain growers.

Andrew Plant, Extension Agriculture Educator
Ellen Mallory, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist

57 Houlton Road, Presque Isle, ME 04769
207.764.3361 or 1.800.287.1462

Maine Grain Conference to be held March 13th

Ellen Mallory, Extension Associate Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, University of Maine

grain growing in fieldThe 2015 Maine Grain Conference will be held Friday, March 13th at the Spectacular Event Center near the airport in Bangor, Maine. This year’s main speaker is Blaine Schmaltz. Blaine owns and operates a diversified family farm in North Dakota consisting of grassfed livestock and seed crops: hard red spring wheat, durum, barley, oats, emmer, rye, triticale, buckwheat, flax, dry peas, edible beans, soybeans, corn, sunflower, alfalfa, clover and sculptured grass seedings. Blaine has produced certified organic crops since 1986, is a ND State Certified and Foundation Seed Stock grower, and a founding member of the Northern Plains Sustainable Farm Breeder Club. Blaine will describe his farm operation and talk about rotation strategies for organic grains; production specifics for alternative crops like field peas, soybeans, and ancient grains; and seed production and on-farm variety selection. For the last topic, Blaine will be joined by two Maine growers who have been conducting on-farm spring wheat selection projects.

Dr. Jay Hao, Plant Pathologist with the University of Maine, will talk about small grain leaf and seed diseases and how to management them. Jay assists growers with identification and management of potato and small grain diseases. He researches the use of biological control agents to manage plant diseases, as well as chemical control strategies, molecular tools to detect and quantify plant pathogens, and varietal resistance. Andrew Plant, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, will discuss on-farm grain storage and management.

Preregistration is required and costs $25 before March 8th, and $35 afterwards. Registration closes March 11th.

For more information and to register visit the workshop website, or to register by phone and pay by check, call Meghan Dill at 207.581.3878.

Crop Insurance — Deadlines Fast Approaching

Lani Carlson, University of Maine

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) reminds farmers in Maine that the final date to purchase or modify federal crop insurance coverage on most 2015 spring-planted crops is fast approaching. This includes the new Whole-Farm Revenue Protection policy, as well as policies for spring-seeded insurable crops. For 2015 spring planted crops: Corn, Forage Seeding, Fresh Market Sweet Corn, Green Peas, Potatoes, Small Grains and Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, that date is March 16. This is the last date to apply for crop insurance coverage or to make changes in coverage from the previous year or to cancel your policy. Maine farmers have the option of purchasing an individual policy for each insured crop or the whole-farm revenue protection option to cover multiple crops under one policy. To determine if the specific crop is available in your county go to the RMA website.

Whole-Farm Revenue Protection is tailored for any farm with up to $8.5 million in insured revenue, including specialty or organic commodities (both crops and livestock). The new insurance policy provides premium discount incentives for crop diversification, and protection against low revenue due to unavoidable natural disasters and market fluctuations that affect income during the insurance year. Most farm-raised crops, animals, and animal products are eligible for protection. Coverage also includes replanting payments, provisions that increase coverage for expanding operations and the inclusion of market readiness costs in the coverage. Farmers are encouraged to visit their crop insurance agent soon to learn specific details for the 2015 crop year. Crop insurance coverage decisions must be decided on or before the sales closing date. More information, including availability of the product can be found on the RMA whole farm web page.

Other important changes in the 2014 Farm Bill include improved organic protection for more crops. The organic price coverage has been extended to eight additional crops (oats, peppermint, apricots, apples, blueberries, almonds, pears, and grapes for juice) to a total of sixteen. The producer has the option of using organic or conventional prices. In addition, RMA has removed the 5% premium surcharge for organic price options.

This Farm Bill makes crop insurance more affordable for beginning farmers.
A beginning farmer is an individual who has not actively operated and managed a farm with an insurable interest in a crop or livestock as an owner-operator, landlord, tenant, or sharecropper for more than 5 years. See the RMA website for a complete definition. Beginning farmer provisions are available for all insurance plans for 2015, except insurance policies with contract change dates before June 30, 2014. The new benefits available for beginning farmers are:

  • Exemption from paying the administrative fee for catastrophic (CAT) and additional coverage (buy-up) level policies
  • Additional 10 percentage points of premium subsidy for additional coverage policies (buy-up) that have premium subsidy
  • Use of the production history of farming operations, if beginning farmers were previously involved in the decision making or physical activities
  • An increase in the substituted yield for yield adjustment, which allows a replacement of a low yield due to an insured cause of loss, from 60% to 80% of the applicable transitional yield (T-Yield) for the crop in the county

Farmers are encouraged to visit their crop insurance agent soon to learn specific details for the 2015 crop year. Crop insurance coverage decisions must be decided on or before the sales closing date. Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Producers can use the RMA Cost Estimator to get a premium amount estimate of their insurance needs online.

For further information, contact Program Co-Director David Handley at 207.933.2100, email; Program Co-Director Tori Jackson at 207.353.5550, email; or Program Manager, Leilani Carlson at 207.944.1533, email Please visit the Maine Risk Management and Crop Insurance Education Program website.

Online Resources for Grain Growers

Ellen Mallory and Andrew Plant, University of Maine

While the snow is still thick on the ground, now is a good time to peruse the informational resources available online for grain production. Here are a few of the sites that we find helpful. Enjoy!

The 2015-2016 Agronomy Guide – Penn State
Order a hard copy ($25) or find content from the 2013-2014 guide online

The Small Grains Field Guide
University of Minnesota Extension

Risk Management Guide for Organic Producers
Excellent information on soil management and crop production for field crops. Available free online

Grain Drying and Storage — NDSU Website
A comprehensive listing of links to various sites with information on all aspects of grain drying and storage. Compiled by North Dakota State University Extension.

Growing Grains on a Small Scale
Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center website with lots of links

Organic Field Crop Production Resources
Factsheets and research reports on all aspects of organic field crop production compiled by the Organic Agriculture Center of Canada

UVM Grains Program and Cereal Grain Quality Testing Laboratory
Our collaborators in Vermont have many reports on variety and research trials and a link to their grain quality laboratory website

Information on this website is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2015

Call 800.287.0274 or TDD 800.287.8957 (in Maine), or 207.581.3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit