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Corn+Soybean Digest

Use Market Volatility To Your Benefit

"The only thing worse than getting bad advice is getting good advice and not following it."

That was a young farmer's comment at a recent seminar.

So it is. Thinking about pulling the price trigger won't get the job done. Procrastination too often is the thief of opportunity.

One tool to help you avoid these missed opportunities is marketing orders. And when I explained the different types of marketing orders, or offers to sell, that producers can use, it was like a light came on for this young farmer. He immediately found a way to make better pricing decisions.

In this article, I'll explain the different types of orders that you can use, and how and when to use each one.

Market Order. This is the most commonly used order. You call the elevator and agree on bushels to be sold, delivery time period and price per bushel. Once you agree on the price, the sale is completed at the market.

The merchandiser will normally call his broker and hedge his purchase immediately. If the price is at a good profit level and you're satisfied with the basis, this type of sale can work to your benefit.

Price Order. This is usually one of the best tools that a producer can use. The elevator you sell to will also enjoy working with you if you make your own decisions, have a good marketing plan and use price orders, often referred to as offers.

In a price order, you can choose the cash or futures price at which you want to sell a portion of your crop. As an example, you can tell your elevator manager that, if soybeans for May delivery reach $6.90/bu, you'll sell 10,000 bu of cash soybeans for April-May delivery.

If your basis is usually 20 cents below May futures, you'll need a rally to $7.10 or higher to make the sale. If you have more beans, you can have another offer in to sell an additional 10,000 bu when the bid hits $7.20/bu, a third sale at $7.50 and the last 10,000 bu at $8.10.

Time Order. The time order is rarely used, but is a great tool to consider. Our research shows that October and February are usually two of the worst months to make corn and soybean sales. The best months most years are in the April-June period.

A simple time order would be, for example, to sell 10,000 bu of cash soybeans on the market open on Friday, April 17 of this year; an additional 10,000 bu on May 22; and a third sale at the close of trade on June 12.

According to the Center for the Study of Recurring Cycles, time is the most important factor in forecasting market movement. After 20-plus years of studying and trading grain futures, I agree.

O.C.O. Order. These initials stand for One Cancels the Other. This is a more complicated order, but is a good concept to understand, even if you don't trade futures or options. It's actually two orders.

As an example, I might place an order to sell 10,000 bu of May Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures at $7.10, but if that offer isn't hit by April 17, cancel the $7.10 offer and sell at the open of trade. In other words, if I don't get my price by a key date, I make the sale anyway.

Next, I would place an O.C.O. offer to sell an additional 10,000 bu at $7.30. If it's not filled, my time sale would be to sell 10,000 bu on the open on May 22. One way or the other, price or time, I'll get the sale made!

Grain markets are often very volatile when you are busy in the field. By understanding how you can place offers, you often can make more income with less stress because you didn't miss a good pricing opportunity.

At a recent seminar, I was asked if I could share one important marketing rule with farmers attending. That rule: Know what price you want for your product and call that offer in!

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