MarketMaxx is more than a game to Marcus Spotts and Seth Taylor.

The two winners of the 2005 MarketMaxx contest used the corn and soybean trading game to enhance their real marketing skills to generate better profits for their Midwestern operations.

“I learned that you don't worry about a couple of pennies and jump to get out of a contract,” says Taylor, who farms and owns a farrow-to-finish hog operation at Owensville, IN. “You stick to a plan, then make changes when you see that a big shift in the market is taking place.”

Winner Marcus Spotts got ideas for making trades by reading the market commentary on the MarketMaxx Web site. He farms at Nora Springs, IA, and took profits from actual options trades on his own corn.

Both producers are back for MarketMaxx 2006, which began Jan. 3. It's similar to the 2005 contest from The Corn And Soybean Digest. More than 3,500 producers and others matched their marketing abilities against each other during the initial year of MarketMaxx.

MarketMaxx involves players who market a simulated 100,000 bu. of corn and 50,000 bu. of soybeans. Farmers who have marketed their corn and beans at the highest price when the game ends Oct. 31, 2006, will be big winners.

First 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. First 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.

Spotts and Taylor exemplify how lessons learned from the simulated trading of commodities can help sharpen your marketing skills on corn and bean sales that count.

“It was a pretty neat game,” says Spotts, whose overall average sale price for corn was $2.35.88, according to game coordinator CashGrainBids.com, Bozeman, MT. “I signed up in late spring, then immediately placed offers (to sell) and let it go,” says Spotts.

His sales were based off a $2.63 December 2005 futures price. He used his experiences with MarketMaxx to make options trades for his own corn.

“I sold $3.10 December calls for 11¢/bu. when it looked like the market had topped (in early-summer),” says Spotts. “I also sold $2.30 December calls for 10¢ after the market had dropped. I was able to get out of both those contracts and collect the extra 21¢.”

In the meantime, he made cash corn sales at between $2.20 and $2.35, then took the available LDP. He also rolled $2.60-plus December futures to July 2006.

Taylor uses corn and soybean futures and options to manage the price he pays for them for use in his swine rations. MarketMaxx helped him better understand the board trade. “I had done some trading before and was interested in getting more familiar with the process of actually using futures and options,” says Taylor, whose overall MarketMaxx soybean contest sales averaged $6.93/bu. in the Cash Grain Bids overall calculations.

He developed a basic plan for MarketMaxx sales. “My minor trades didn't work out, so I just rolled my options when the price was right (in early summer),” he says, noting that he'll be better prepared the next time he makes corn or soybean trades to lock in feed costs.

“I will be trading in the 2006 MarketMaxx games,” he says.

Spotts is also ready for 2006 MarketMaxx trades. “I expect to learn more from MarketMaxx this year,” he says. “And having the numbers (on your trades) show up on the marketing contest is fun.”

MarketMaxx is sponsored by Massey Ferguson, Syngenta Crop Protection and The Corn And Soybean Digest. Other prize sponsors are Grayhill and AgriStar. It is open to anyone 18 years of age or older as of Nov. 1, 2005, who is actively engaged in crop farming and has not served as a licensed commodity broker within the last five years.

Those who played the game in 2005 are already signed up to play. Others may sign up by going to www.MarketMaxx.net. Look for further information on MarketMaxx 2006 at that site.