02 Jan 2020 Crop Insurance Claims Update – Winegrape Growers
When should I file a Notice of Loss?
If you suspect that you have a problem with smoke, high heat or other damage in your vineyard you should open a “notice of loss”. It is going to be a busy year for the adjusters, and you want to get your inspection scheduled prior to harvesting. Just a reminder that a crop insurance claim does not affect pricing or non- renewals as with other types of insurance.
What are the requirements for smoke taint testing to determine if I have a crop insurance claim?
You will need to test random samples of each variety in the vineyard. If you have multiple vineyard locations you must repeat the testing separately for those vineyards. The samples must be tested by an independent third-party lab, ETS is the most widely used, and exceed the minimum threshold for smoke taint as established by the RMA. It would be preferable to talk with your adjuster before pulling the samples.
Do I need to have all blocks tested independently for smoke taint?
No, you will need to test random samples of each variety in the vineyard not each block. If you have multiple vineyard locations, you must repeat the testing separately for those vineyards.
Do I need an inspection if I intend to harvest my vineyards?
An inspection is always a good idea especially if you also suspect damage other than smoke taint might affect your 2020 production. Example: high heat, bird damage, etc. An adjuster needs to see the fruit prior to harvest. If the damage is discovered after harvest and an adjuster was not given the opportunity to inspect, there could be an issue with coverage.
Do I need an inspection if I intend to not harvest my vineyard due to smoke taint?
Absolutely! You will need an appraisal to estimate your 2020 production for your claim as well as give you APH numbers for 2020 even though you did not harvest anything. Remember that if you are not going to harvest due to a buyer’s quality rejection due to smoke taint you will need a rejection letter from your buyer or buyers to complete the claim documentation.
The winery accepted my fruit, but post-fermentation doesn’t want to pay because smoke taint showing up in the wine?
Yes, if you filed a “notice of loss” and your fruit was not commingled with other growers’ fruit in the fermentation process. With documentation from the winery in the form of weight tags and post-fermentation lab results, you can file a crop claim for the tainted fruit. The claim can also include a quality price adjustment rather than a total loss. There is no coverage to reimburse the winery for their expenses in processing and fermenting the fruit.