"Weather is always a major production risk for crop producers," says Craig. "But a good crop insurance program that emphasizes higher coverage buy-up can minimize production risk. A written marketing plan can be effective for managing price risk if it emphasizes incremental grain sales using target dates and planned pricing."

An effective marketing plan needs to include revenue-based crop insurance, says Craig. He recommends Revenue Assurance with the harvest price option or Crop Revenue Coverage. Either product allows a producer to sell grain before harvest without worry, helping to minimize stress.

"Risk management decisions need to be finalized soon," says Craig. "March 15 is the crop insurance sales closing date if you are changing coverage level or type of coverage this production year."

An Internet Web site can help producers compare insurance premium costs for each coverage level and product type. It's at http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/cropins/insurance/premium_index_2003.asp.

"Before making final decisions, always check with your crop insurance agent for the latest information and for answers specific to your farm," says Craig.

The U of M educator says producers need to have a written marketing plan in place before planting a crop. "Being poised to take advantage of historical marketing highs is important to the success of a marketing plan," he points out. "Develop a marketing plan now and follow it through."

There are marketing clubs in several Minnesota communities that can help producers gain marketing skills. Meeting with other producers in a structured marketing club led by a qualified instructor can help producers discipline themselves to become better marketers, says Craig.

For information on marketing workshops and other farm financial tools, check the Web site of the U of M Center for Farm Financial Management. It's at http://www.cffm.umn.edu.