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Corn+Soybean Digest

When They Pull The Trigger

Rollie Bedow, Tyler, MN, farms nearly 4,000 acres on a 50/50 corn-soybean rotation with his son Dan. More than 80% of their land is cash rented and they own the balance. They can store more than 300,000 bu or about ⅔ of their crop.

Bedow prefers to market his grain through the local elevator instead of a broker and manages all his own marketing. He's comfortable using any marketing tool available and regularly uses a combination of forward contracts, options and hedges.

MARKET POSITION: Bedow has sold 100% of his corn and soybeans for 2002. He's sold 100% of his corn at $2.40 for December and has 10% of his beans sold at $5.35, 10% at $5.52 and the remaining 80% sold at $5.11.

STRATEGY: Bedow doesn't believe in making lots of moves when marketing his grain. His bean sales were made within a single week.

Bedow is counting on his LDP and the new base acre program to add more value to his soybeans. He says USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) estimates he'll add 44¢/bu; he's figuring on netting 37¢/bu based on his own percentage calculations.

“My last sale at $5.11 isn't anything to write home about, but it's not far from my ceiling price and I can use my LDP as a put,” Bedow says. “I'm sure the LDP is going to be a minimum of 50¢.” If the weather market continues, he's betting he'll net between $0.87-1.40 from LDP and his base bean acre payment.

OUTLOOK: Bedow would have liked to move some of his '03 and '04 crop with the summer weather rallies, but since only this year's prices were moving, he's waiting for a better opportunity.

“If December '03 corn futures should go up to $2.50, I'll be looking at doing something again,” he says. “I won't start looking at beans unless they're at loan levels or higher.”

Jay Drees, Manning, IA, cash rents 700 acres from his father. He farms in a 50/50 corn-soybean rotation and has 27,000 bu of on-farm storage.

He consults the Chicago Board of Trade Web site daily and uses an advisory service, but makes all of his own marketing decisions. Drees regularly uses hedge-to-arrive contracts as well as options but has begun using futures just this year.

“I hate paying margin, but what you're out is the basis when you do finally sell the contract,” Drees says. “I'm getting less comfortable using options because of what they cost. I'm beginning to think that futures are a better way to market than options.”

MARKET POSITION: Drees started marketing his 2002 crop in May of 2001. He's marketed 70% of his 2002 corn crop, 44% is sold, half forward contracted at $2.50 for December and half at $2.48 for March. The other 26% of his crop is covered on a December $3.60 call to protect the upside in case drought conditions worsen. He's had $2.30 and $2.40 puts in place for quite some time to protect the downside. Drees hasn't sold any beans for '02 or '03.

STRATEGY: Drees believes in making small, deliberate moves on the board. He generally sells one 5,000-bu contract at a time. He bases his decisions on the price and on the calendar.

“I try to divide it up. Right now in corn for '03, I'm about 13% sold using hedge to arrive and about 13% on the futures,” says Drees. “Usually after the first of the year, I'll try to do another 25% and then close to April, I'll do another 20-25%. I just leave that last 25-30% until harvest.” Drees believes in using crop insurance but is reluctant to market more grain than his crop insurance covers.

OUTLOOK: Drees has sold or hedged 26% of his December '03 corn for $2.50 and has sold one 5,000-bu contract for December '04.

“If '03 corn happens to get down to $2.30, I might look into finding some cheap calls,” Drees says. “I wasn't prepared for the drought rally of 40¢ this year. I should have had some calls in place, but it has been an opportunity to sell more.”

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