The crop is in, but that doesn't mean your job is done. For nearly two thirds of you, the marketing process is just beginning. Surveys of our readers show that only about one third of you actually have a solid marketing plan in place that you follow year-round.

Most marketing experts say that's not the most effective way to grow your profits. You should be looking at selling portions of your crop throughout the year to maximize profit potential.

Now we're going to provide you a way to actually get behind the wheel and practice some of the marketing techniques you read about — without losing the farm.

Starting Jan. 1, The Corn And Soybean Digest is giving you the chance to play in a fantasy grain marketing contest called MarketMaxx. The game will allow you to make trades on 100,000 bu. of corn and 50,000 bu. of soybeans throughout the marketing year ending Oct. 31, 2005. And for the big winners: big prizes.

If you're a novice at marketing, don't worry. We won't let you hang out to dry with this contest. We'll run stories explaining marketing basics and strategies on how to use marketing tools. Plus, we'll continue our regular marketing stories and the sage advice from our columnists, Alan Kluis and Richard Brock.

To get started on this online contest, please see the special MarketMaxx section beginning on page 11. Find the details on how the contest will operate and how you can sign up at www.marketmaxx.net.

Hopefully, the take-home value of this contest won't just be whether you're a winner or a loser, but how you play the game. The learning possibilities are what make this so valuable.

Haven't most of you wanted to try using futures or buying options? Now you can, and with the unique feature of trading on your local basis while competing on a national level. It's all built into the online program.

When you sign up you'll automatically have access to the password-protected MarketMaxx Web site where you can check how you compare with other farmers in the contest. In addition, you'll receive a biweekly e-newsletter that will provide marketing advice and show you ways to use some of today's available marketing tools.

We hope this contest is fun, educational and provides you a real-life marketing simulation that challenges your ideas on how to sell your crop.

You could win big prizes, like the use of a tractor or combine from our sponsors: Massey Ferguson, Syngenta Crop Protection, Mid-Tech and Crop 1 Insurance. And just for signing up you'll get a 30-day free trial to the Chicago Board of Trade's real-time data service called Advantage.

So please, sign up at www.marketmaxx.net and let the games begin.