"How can you be long-term bullish on soybeans and yet recommend getting 30-50% sold in the cash market?" asked a producer at a recent seminar.

His question and other recent comments show how difficult it can be to stay with a disciplined marketing plan and yet still take advantage of the potential for higher prices.

Now that conditions have changed, it's important to tone down any wild-bull price outlook. It's time to adjust your marketing plan to more realistic price levels based on the new conditions. If these price targets (which still offer good profits) are not hit, stay with the time plan.Unfortunately, s everal key factors have changed in recent months, which will reduce how far U.S. soybean prices can rally this year. First is the drop in demand for soybeans due to the Asian financial crisis. Second are increased global supplies as farmers in South America get ready to harvest a record crop. Third is the sharp drop in the Commodity Research Bureau price index, reflecting a general deflationary attitude for commodity prices.

In the November 1997 issue of Soybean Digest, I suggested an initial plan to get 30-50% of your 1997 cash soybeans sold if May Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soybean futures rallied to $7.30 or higher. This target was hit on Nov. 7 and again on Nov. 11. May soybeans eventually traded as high as $7.52.

The next suggested objective to make an additional scale-up sale was at $7.90 or higher. In the current market environment, this is probably not a realistic price target to hold on to 50-70% of your 1997 cash soybeans.

In 1995 and 1996, the early sales were the lowest price levels; in 1997, some of the early sales may turn out to be the most profitable. That is one reason why I will stay disciplined with sale recommendations and will always be willing to make some cash soybean sales (30-50%) when good profit levels are offered.

Review the May 1998 CBOT soybean chart (see printed article). The price retracements of 38%, 50% and 62% show resistance at the following price levels: $6.98, $7.08 and $7.18. If the first objective at $6.98 is hit, get up to a minimum 50% sold. At $7.08, get up to 60-70% sold and at $7.18, get 80-100% sold.

If you still think prices can move higher, take 20-30 cents/bu out of your sales price and buy some out-of-the-money call options.

If the price targets are not hit, then consider selling the balance of your cash soybeans using the following time plan.

If the $6.98 price level is not hit, sell one-third of your remaining cash soybeans during the week of March 24. If the next objective at $7.08 is not hit by May 22, get two-thirds of your soybeans sold. If the final objective at $7.18 is not hit, sweep the bin by the week of June 19.

Hopefully, soybean prices will rally and the price plan will work.