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Corn+Soybean Digest

Get Organized Before You Get Busy

Do you ever feel that you have more to do than you can possibly get done? It's a feeling that most farmers get as the April-May period arrives. Here are some suggestions that should help you get your marketing more organized. Follow these ideas and you will likely make better decisions during the spring rush.

1 Write out a current inventory sheet. List all of your bins of corn, soybeans and wheat. Include where they're at, if you have locked in the LDPs on them and what amount of that inventory has been sold. I was amazed last fall at how many farmers missed taking LDPs on corn and soybeans because they didn't keep organized inventory records.

2 List your year-to-date sales and compute your average price received per bushel, plus the average gross price (selling price + LDP + hedge gain) on sales that have been made.

3 Write out a marketing plan on the remaining inventory. Take time and involve other members of your farm business or marketing group. Look at some price charts and write down the price levels at which you're willing to make sales.

4 Think of your crop as money. This is a great time to ask yourself, "If the sales targets are hit, what would be the total revenue generated on each acre of corn and soybeans?" With good yields and large LDPs, most producers are satisfied with last year's gross income - even if they don't like today's prices.

5 Call in your price offers. We're entering the period when grain markets will start to get volatile. The producers who made good old- and new-crop sales last year were the ones who had offers called in. The wait-and-see crowd was left holding the bag again.

6 Place time offers, too, in case your price targets aren't hit. Then you still need to make the sales during the mid-April to late May time period. If prices aren't rallying at that time, odds are good we've started the long slide toward the harvest lows.

7 Make sure you have new-crop corn and soybean offers in. This is essential if you're short of storage or need to generate cash right off the combine.

In summary, make sure that you take time each day to at least check on the markets. You probably have access to a Web site or a toll-free call-in service that will give you a quick summary of what the market is doing and what you should look for. Remember that marketing is an important part of running your profitable farm business. It's dollars per acre that counts.

Visit the NorthStar Web site ( Or, call us at 1-800- 345-SOYA to get a two-week trial to our 1-800 update.

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