Frequently Asked Questions: Do I Have the Right to Growing Crops When the Lease Terminates?

Updated: Jul 9, 2020


Tractor removing dead crops (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).
Tractor removing dead crops (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

This post should not be construed as legal advice.


For those who have seen my leasing publication Agricultural Leasing in Maryland, you should realize I did not answer every question related to agricultural leasing. One of those questions is how to handle growing crops when a lease terminates.

What rights does the tenant have in the growing crop? This question may be answered in multiple ways depending on the type of crops being grown, language in the lease, and other factors. The best way to resolve this issue is simply to include in the lease language allowing a tenant a reasonable time to harvest growing crops after the lease terminates, or similar language allowing the tenant time to come back on the leased property to harvest growing crops after the lease has terminated.

If the lease does not handle this issue, then the doctrine of emblements will typically apply and allow for the tenant to reenter the property and harvest the crop within a reasonable time. To qualify for the doctrine of emblements, the tenant must lease the farmland for an uncertain duration, or by some act that is the landlord’s fault and without fault of the tenant. Do not worry; we are going to discuss each of these situations here.


Tractor on a field (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).
Tractor on a field (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

When the lease is for an uncertain term (both landlord and tenant are not sure of the end date), the tenant traditionally has the right to harvest the growing crop, absent an agreement to the contrary. In agriculture, we traditionally have had unwritten leases that contained no specific termination date; these type of leases would fall under this rule. The doctrine of emblements typically applies to a