As corn and soybean prices took a turn lower following last month's USDA crops report, Tom Edic knew markets would likely rebound in early year fashion.

His participation in The Corn And Soybean Digest's 2005 MarketMaxx game helped him better understand the characteristics of these and other commodity markets. Edic's skills in making corn and soybean trades also earned him a second-place finish in the MarketMaxx corn contest last year.

For his success in marketing his simulated 100,000 bu. of corn at an overall price just under $2.24/bu., the Central City, NE, grower was the recipient of a GPS Manual Guidance (lightbar) System from Mid-Tech. “I haven't installed the lightbar on my tractor yet, but I look forward to the ease of operation it will provide,” he says.

MarketMaxx is now off and running for 2006. Those who played the game in 2005 are already entered for this year. Others may enter the contests by going to www.MarketMaxx.net.

Along with Edic, Graham Utter, who farms at Jacksonville, IL, southwest of Springfield, also received the Mid-Tech GPS system for finishing second in the soybean marketing contest. His final price for marketing a simulated 50,000 bu. of soybeans was just over $6.82. Utter's marketing plan to reach the lofty price involved using put and call options.

“When we started playing the game, we decided we needed a marketing plan,” says Utter, who farms corn, soybeans and wheat with his father. “We took several options positions. We bought some puts (in late spring and early summer) to lock in beans in the $6.80 range and higher. We then left those positions on. They filled after the market started going down.”

Utter says he learned that developing a plan, then sticking with it, works. Even though he didn't use his MarketMaxx-driven knowledge in real-life grain trades last year, he will use the education he received from playing the game in his 2006 marketing program.

“We've always used ‘time marketing’ to sell corn and soybeans periodically,” he says. “This year we plan to use some options and go with a 50-50 program. We'll still use some time marketing, but will have some options in place to secure a price.”

Edic began making MarketMaxx simulated options and futures trades just after the contest began in early January 2005. “I was in it from the beginning,” he says. “MarketMaxx sounded interesting when I heard about it and I wanted to learn more about the futures.

“I learned how to market a crop better. I learned that when grain prices are lower, you can sometimes benefit from the right marketing plan.”

Edic, who grows mostly alfalfa, was still deciding which crops to plant for 2006 in mid-January. “It's getting close to the time to make a decision,” Edic says. “Whichever way I go, I think MarketMaxx (2006) will help me understand commodity marketing better.”

MarketMaxx 2006 officially began on Jan. 3. It will continue through Oct. 31. At that time, the top four farmer contestants who market their simulated corn and soybeans at the highest prices will be winners of great prizes from the MarketMaxx game.

Grand prize in the corn contest is one-year's use of a Massey Ferguson MF 9000 Self-Propelled Combine (not to exceed 100 separator hours), a prize valued at $12,000. Grand prize in the soybean contest is a year's use (not to exceed 250 hours) of the choice of any Massey Ferguson tractor in the MF 7400 or MF 8400 series, valued at $12,000.

Additional prizes for the runners up will include complete computer systems by Syngenta Crop Protection, customized, rugged mobile computers from Grayhill Custom Mobile Solutions and high-speed satellite Internet service from Agristar Global Networks.

Massey Ferguson and Syngenta Crop Protection are again official co-sponsors of MarketMaxx. In addition, prize sponsors are Agristar Global Networks and Grayhill Custom Mobile Solutions.

The game is designed to help growers become better marketers by learning how to make corn and soybean trades using futures, options, cash sales and cash forward contracting. Entrants place simulated sell orders for corn and soybeans in quantities on dates and times of their determination during the course of the contest. Only one entry per person is allowed.

Official contest rules state that to be eligible to win, all entrants must have submitted orders to price 100,000 bu. of corn and 50,000 bu. of soybeans by Oct. 31, 2006. Contest participants can sell and buy back 2006 Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soybean and 2006 CBOT corn futures or options in 5,000-bu. increments during market hours as often as they want during the market hours.

The www.MarketMaxx.net site features the latest nearby corn and soybean market prices and charts to monitor trade history. There is also a marketing library and guide to writing a marketing plan. Marketing commentary from Northstar Commodity Investment Co. and others is featured.

Players receive a periodic MarketMaxx e-newsletter that features updates on winners and market commentary. Go to the MarketMaxx Web site for more information. Then get signed up and start making trades.