Call options are the winning strategy for two top MarketMaxx players. MarketMaxx is an ongoing trading simulation organized by The Corn And Soybean Digest.

In early March, Jay Williams, a farmer from Waldron, MI, topped the corn scoreboard at just over $2.11/bu. His closest competitor, PJ McCullough from Lebanon, IN, was just 2¢ behind. However, McCullough and Williams were tied on the soybean scoreboard at just over $6.88/bu.

“There's no better way to learn marketing,” says Williams. “MarketMaxx is a great way to practice without the risks of margin calls you have to face in real life.”

Williams declares that his best trade so far has been “nothing special.” He says he's still riding up the $5 May call options on soybeans he purchased.

While the top two prizes for MarketMaxx are the year's use of a Massey Ferguson combine for the corn leader, and the year's use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for the soybean leader, Williams is vying for a prize a little closer to home. He and a friend are both playing MarketMaxx. At the contest's end on Oct. 31, the worst of the two marketers will treat the other player's entire family to a steak dinner.

Williams says the secret to his success is a written marketing plan. “If you don't have a written plan, I've found you really don't have any direction,” he says. He's filled out some of his plan on MarketMaxx's fill-in-the-blank marketing plan page, but says he's mostly following the marketing plan he's using for his actual farm, although he's trading more aggressively in the game.

McCullough agrees that he's tried out more aggressive strategies in MarketMaxx than he's been comfortable trying on his own. He bought 10 $5.20 July '05 soybean calls for 27½¢ and sold them Feb. 18 for 96¢. That trade alone netted McCullough more than $33,000.

“I'm able to be more risky than I otherwise would because I didn't have to come up with more than $13,000 to buy those contracts,” he says. “I would advise other players to try strategies that are out-of-the-box for them and see what works. That's the only way you can really learn. That's what I've done so far, and luckily, it's been working.”


MarketMaxx, brought to you by The Corn And Soybean Digest, is a free, online marking simulation. To register, visit www.MarketMaxx.net.