Lou Hesse farms in eastern Washington. But he attended Iowa State University to better understand how his commodity markets function.

Information from Iowa and other Corn Belt locations, as well as participating in MarketMaxx, helped Hesse become a better corn marketer. It also helped him win third place in the 2005 MarketMaxx contest from The Corn And Soybean Digest.

His average price for selling his simulated 100,000 bushels of corn was $2.23.35. That feat earned him the contest's third prize, a new computer system.

While Hesse was taking home the corn contest prize, Dennis Moughler, Butler, IN, took third place in the soybean marketing contest. Moughler's average selling price was $6.80.45 for his simulated 50,000 bushels of soybeans.

Both growers are involved in the 2006 MarketMaxx game, which began in early January and continues through Oct. 31.

“Any time we can do something to help ourselves become better marketers helps in our program,” says Hesse, Moses Lake, WA, who grows corn, wheat and peas, and runs 4,000 hogs. His wife Debra helps with on-farm marketing and was involved in MarketMaxx with him.

“MarketMaxx helps us,” he says. “We also pay close attention to what's happening in the Midwest. We look at subsoil moisture (in key growing areas) and other things to help us determine the best time of the year to sell our corn. We actually marketed our 2005 corn using about the same strategies as we used with MarketMaxx.”

That strategy involved selling “short futures or short calls” to protect corn prices likely to decline as harvest approached, says Hesse, who still subscribes to the Des Moines Register newspaper to help monitor situations in that region.

“We also belong to the local co-op, subscribe to several newsletters and read several farm publications,” he says. “Those things, and the MarketMaxx game, helped us be better marketers in 2005.”

Moughler farms about 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa and has a small cow-calf herd with his father and brothers. He says he felt “addicted to the game” during the first year of MarketMaxx. His goal in playing was to learn more about corn and soybean marketing.

“MarketMaxx has helped us in using options as insurance to protect against market swings,” says Moughler.

He spent a lot of time on the www.MarketMaxx.net Web site. “When I entered I was as green as could be,” he says. But his marketing skills were certainly sharpened.

Sign up for MarketMaxx is at the www.MarketMaxx.net site. All entrants have a simulated 100,000 bu. of corn and 50,000 bu. of soybeans. 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 you want.

The www.MarketMaxx.net site features the three most nearby corn and soybean market prices and charts to monitor trade history. Handy real time charts enable site users to monitor up-to-the-minute contract moves in the three nearest contract months. There is also a marketing library and guide to writing a marketing plan.

Marketing commentary from Northstar Commodity Investment Co. and others is also featured. A periodic MarketMaxx e-newsletter, which features updates on contest leaders, market commentary and news impacting corn and soybean production and prices, is available to MarketMaxx players.