The soybean market has been on the proverbial roller coaster this year. So to help you make better, more informed marketing decisions for December, I'm going to lay out the price action for the nearby soybean futures.

The first low in the new millennium came in right at the beginning of the year. This was followed by a four-week rally to the high at $5.29, then a four-week drop to the end of the February low at $4.92. The spring rally was volatile, but carried prices higher for ten weeks to the high at $5.70 in early May. With improving weather, and improving yield prospects, the price sank lower for 13 weeks to the early August low at $4.34. The next rally was for five weeks followed by an eight-week price correction.

This illustrates what a choppy soybean market you've had to work with this year. The old seasonal pattern of a late-February low and end-of-October low worked well this year. Sales made in late March, late April and mid-May worked well, too.

At an early November seminar, an older farmer reminded me why he was at the meeting. "Young man, I like your chart analysis, but I know where prices have been. I'm here to try and figure out where prices are going to go!"

With that, if you look at this year's rallies, it's usually been the right move to sell into the markets when prices rally for four to five weeks, which would suggest a possible mid-December high. If the market goes on an extended South American weather scare rally, be willing to make additional sales in eight to ten weeks, which would be mid- to late January.

Time analysis has been our most reliable market indicator. However, we also suggest using specific price orders. The targets we have suggested in January soybean futures are at $5.08, $5.28 and $5.48. If the price targets are not hit, use the time plan.

Our basic philosophy has been to make several old and new crop sales during the year. By anticipating the rallies and making scaled-up sales when prices are trending higher, you're well on your way to putting together a successful marketing plan. This works well for cash and new-crop sales. Check your new-crop bids as well. I'm not anxious to sell new-crop soybeans ahead unless, and until, you can lock in a price that is above the loan.

As you wrap up your year-end records and get ready for the accountant, take time to list all of your corn, soybean and wheat sales for the last 12 months. List the date you sold, the amount sold, and the price received along with the year-to-date average. By being aware of when you made the best and worst sales of last year, you can begin to make plans to do a better job next year.

To see a sample marketing plan, just visit the Northstar Web site at www.northstarcommodity.com.