Schedule periodic sales
“Look at marketing a little over a long time period, perhaps 5-10% per month, to get a price average,” Hart says. “Be more aggressive in pricing opportunities (caused by weather, export sales or world tension).”
Those sales could be through cash forward contracts, futures or options sales. Alexander says that if growers are comfortable with using options, then a strategy can be established to lock in a floor price and leave the upside open.
For example, with a December futures price of $4.50, a portion of the expected corn crop could be protected by an at-the-money put at a cost of about 40¢ per bushel. That would provide about a $4.10 floor, less about 2¢ in brokerage fees.
“If we see a big crop to where we increase our inventory from 2 billion to 3 billion more bushels, we could see prices substantially lower,” Alexander says. “So you have to look at what happens if the price the market offers today is the best you will see.”
She says as put-call spread strategy early on could provide a strong price window. For example, late last year (2013) a grower could buy a $4.50 December 2014 put option for about 37¢. At the same time, he could sell a $5 December call for about 14¢. That provides a price window of $4.50 to $5 for a cost of 23¢ per bushel.
“This can cheapen-up your price protection and provide an opportunity,” Hart says.
“They need to look at different risks and potential returns, especially on more complex strategies,” Alexander adds, noting that similar pricing programs could be written into a soybean-marketing plan to help get sales made 5-10% at a time.
Hart says that November 2014 soybean futures in the $11.50 range, there may be better early marketing opportunities. “The bean market is still offering a better than breakeven price,” he says. “We’ll likely see farmers be more aggressive in short term marketing in the early winter.
“It looks like the soybean market is prepared to move down as we look into 2015.”