The mental and emotional aspects of marketing are a very large part of decision-making. Emotions often overshadow having the "right information at the right time." I've found in traveling and speaking to farmers this past winter that what most producers need is not just the right information, but knowledge of what to do with it and how and when to make a decision. Consider this:

* Learn marketing - it's never too late to get more education. The two basic tools of marketing are a balance sheet and a commodity bar chart. Few professionals in the grain industry would consider making a decision without a thorough understanding of these two tools.

* Set definite goals and objectives. Don't use objectives such as "selling at the highest price you can" or "at the highest profit." Goals and objectives need to be definitive and useful in decision-making. For example, if your goal is to sell above an expected average price of the year and you expect, through fundamental analysis, that soybeans will average $5.30, then you have a realistic price comparison to help make your decision.

* Forget last year's mistakes. Many were made. You can't make good decisions this year if all you're worried about are the bad ones from last year. It's just like in baseball when a player is in a batting slump. If all he remembers are the times he struck out yesterday, he's never going to be able to hit well today. Put bad decisions behind you.

* Avoid emotional decision-making. Greed, hope and fear are still three of the most common emotions that guide our decision-making process. Last year many people were hoping El Nino would cause weather problems somewhere. Have you ever heard one of your neighbors say he hopes South American farmers are having good weather? Betting on bad weather somewhere else is one of the most common hope theories around. We all go through it, myself included. At least recognize it and try to avoid it when it occurs.

* Keep ego out of the process. Trying to sell at a better price than your neighbor or better than the guys who write the newsletters accomplishes very little. Your competition is the market itself - no one else.

* Be optimistic and plan to make money. With both the Asian and Brazilian economies falling apart, the U.S. is still the strongest of all capitalistic economies with the most stable of all governments. Opportunities have never been better. Low prices in grains do not have to mean low profits! All they mean is that we have to learn a different way to play the game - and to play it by the current rules!

One thing is sure: Becoming successful requires thinking, observing, deciding and doing.

Richard A. Brock is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report. For a trial subscription and information on Brock services, call 800-558-3431 or visit www.agmarketing.com