During a seminar in early September, an older farmer from Indiana kept talking about how good his NSP was this year. He indicated that this will be one of the most profitable farming years he has ever had.

I wasn't the only one at the seminar who wasn't familiar with NSP, but the Indiana farmer eventually shared his secret with us. NSP stands for net selling price. He explained that the net selling price is the gain (or loss) figured by adding your soybean hedges, loan deficiency payments and cash price.

The old gentleman has a very simple, but useful, way of approaching the market. Although he doesn't farm a lot of land, he farms and markets his soybeans in a way that creates excellent profits. I want to expand on his simple concept and add some common-sense merchandising tools to use with it.

Odds are good that you're finished with your soybean harvest, so you know exactly how many bushels your 2000 crop produced. It's time to consider if holding your cash soybeans makes good sense - as in dollars and cents.

Write down your cash bid for soybeans and check the bids out into December 2000, January 2001, March 2001 and May 2001. Is the soybean market offering you a good return to carry (hold onto) your cash soybeans?

If you have soybeans in commercial storage, odds are good that selling now or right after the first of the year is the right merchandising move. Being aware of the bids farther out may help you make the right financial move.

If you have money borrowed on an operating note, figure how much interest you could save each month by selling soybeans now and paying off the note. Many of the farmers I work with - especially those with beans in commercial storage - sell enough now or right after the first of the year to pay off their operating notes.

Check what basis levels are being offered versus the normal basis in your area. If you have a good basis, selling some soybeans on a basis contract may be the best move. If you still have a wide basis, hedging your sale into January or March futures is the right move. By being aware of your basis and the carrying charge that's in the futures market, you're learning to merchandise your crop.

Put together a written plan containing the price levels and times you'll market the balance of your cash 2000 crop. If you put the plan in writing and look at the GPA (gross per acre) that will result, you're more likely to implement a disciplined marketing plan.

The old Indiana farmer who was happy with his NSP also believed in converting his crop to cash as early in the new tax year as possible. Since 1988 he has always cashed in his corn and soybeans and bought stocks. I'm not sure that buying into the stock market at this time is a wise investment, but it's hard to argue with success.

Maybe it's time to cash in some beans!