Proof that volatility has ruled grain markets is found throughout the past year's MarketMaxx newsletters from The Corn And Soybean Digest. The newsletter has gone out twice a month to nearly 7,000 players since the game began in January. MarketMaxx 2007 ended at midnight, Oct. 31.

Winners in the corn and soybean marketing contests are being determined by The Corn And Soybean Digest. Grand-prize winner in the corn contest receives one year's use (up to 100 separator hours) of an Agco Gleaner R5 or A5 series combine. Grand-prize winner in the soybean contest receives one year's use (up to 250 separator hours) of an Agco RT or DT tractor. Second-prize winners will receive complete computer systems from Syngenta Crop Protection.

Along with Agco, Agco Gleaner and Syngenta Crop Science, Cargill Certified SolutionPro is a sponsor for MarketMaxx.

Players made some high trades in their quest for those big prizes. But they had to hold on for the marketing ride of their life.

Gary Ruggles, a North Jackson, OH, grower and dairyman, is like the more than 6,900 players who took part in MarketMaxx 2007. He says he was eager to improve his ability to market corn and soybeans and saw MarketMaxx as an opportunity to learn and possibly win a big prize.

“I saw that it was very realistic right away,” says Ruggles.

From October 2006 to October 2007, MarketMaxx followed December 2007 $3/bu. corn all the way up to $4.30 in February, back down below $3.60 in late April and up past $4.30 again in June. It slipped to about $3.25 in July, bounced back to $3.70 in August, down to $3.35 in September and back up to over $3.80 in October.

November 2007 soybeans have been just as erratic, starting about $6/bu. in October 2006, steadily climbing to about $8.50 in February, sliding to $7.50 in April, surging well past $9 in July, plunging to about $8 in August, then escalating past the $10 magic number in September. Whew.

Ruggles says he likes MarketMaxx because it gives him the opportunity to learn marketing techniques without any financial risk. And he will use knowledge gained from the game to manage his own crops and dairy feed.

“I'm planning to store the corn that we raised (in 2007)and sell it later on,” says Ruggles, who was planning on contracting corn this fall for the 2008 needs of his dairy.

Players in MarketMaxx have seen numerous opportunities to make big sales after steady 20-40¢ fluctuations in corn and bean markets by the day. Chandler, IN, grower Kevin Mosbey has learned to become a better marketer by playing the corn and soybean marketing contests.

“The trend of tighter margins will continue to face producers in the years to come, and only those who can effectively manage the increased risk will thrive,” he says.

There were close to 4,000 MarketMaxx players the first year in 2005. More than 3,280 additional players have been added to the game since then, putting the total at nearly 7,000. Of those, 2,000 were new players in 2007.

Mosbey is among the thousands of players who have taken part in MarketMaxx knowing they could sharpen their marketing skills without facing the risk of margin calls seen in real-life corn and soybean futures and options trading.

“I was glad to see a game where a producer could have real-world experience with grain marketing and not have to worry about losing the farm in the process,” Mosbey says.

He says MarketMaxx has helped him better understand decisions made by his grain marketing consultant. “I learned that using a professional grain marketer is money well spent,” he says. “Being able to understand your grain marketer's reasoning will keep you from being left in the dark.”

The Hoosier State grower recommends MarketMaxx to others. “Following the markets through the duration of the game will give players a whole new respect for grain marketing,” he adds.

Look for the winners of MarketMaxx 2007 in an upcoming issue of The Corn And Soybean Digest or at www.cornandsoybeandigest.com or MarketMaxx.net. Signup for the 2008 game is underway.