Johnson suggests farmers shoot for some earlier harvested corn or soybeans and better basis at delivery, a strategy that paid off in 2012. He recommends using futures or HTA contracts, which allow basis to be set later. “I expect extremely attractive basis opportunities for early harvested corn and soybeans again in 2013, so leave the basis open for now,” he advises.

“Look at the possibility of harvesting for the first half September delivery to capture that narrow basis,” he says. “You might have to fix that basis early in the summer months before the final size of the 2013 crops are known.”

Pierce uses Russell Consulting Group, Panora, Iowa, to help him analyze the farm’s revenue potential and set goals. “They help me pick price targets for placing sell orders,” he says. “They are big on scale-up selling on rallies.”

His risk management also includes matching corn sales with fertilizer purchases. “If I prepay fertilizer in the summer, I sell enough corn at that time to cover the purchase,” he says. “The fertilizer industry uses the corn/fertilizer ratio to price their products. I feel it is important to pair the two together.”