Scott Arthur liked what he saw during the spring and summer when soybean prices took off and opened the door for strong cash and futures sales in the MarketMaxx game from Corn & Soybean Digest.

The Washington, IN, grower was savvy enough in his soybean sales to take home the grand prize in the 2008 MarketMaxx game - one year's use of a new AGCO RT or DT series tractor.

Corey Brandau also jumped on strong corn markets at the right time to pave his way toward being the best corn marketer in MarketMaxx. He wins the grand prize of one year's use of a Gleaner R5 or A5 combine.

Brandau's winning average price for marketing 100,000 bu. of corn was $9.43.9/bu. Arthur's winning average price for marketing 50,000 bu. of soybeans was $17.20/bu.

“I used some advanced cash sales during the period of extremely high prices, mixed with futures sales because basis levels for cash sales were unattractive compared to historical basis levels,” says Arthur.

“Futures sales were put in place to lock in very profitable CBOT levels for both soybeans and corn. As it turned out, these sales were at or near the high of the market,” he says. “My feeling was that while farmers were excited about prices at these levels, not many were acting as aggressive and willing sellers.”

Arthur wanted to make actual soybean sales at the high cash markets. “On our home farm we had made our early cash sales prior to the May/June run-up in the market,” he says. “At that point we were frustrated about not being able to participate in the rally. I used MarketMaxx to scale in cash sales that we would have liked to have been making with our crops at home.

“We did not have the physical soybean crop planted at that point, and much of our corn was looking below average, with 30% replant and 7% totally failed,” Arthur recalls. “Under those crop conditions, we did not have the confidence to push real farm sales past half of historical yield levels.”

HE USED MARKETMAXX trades as a fantasy sales sheet. “We wanted to track ‘what could have been’ for our farm if we had been able to make sales at that time,” says Arthur. “Obviously, while winning the contest has been very exciting and rewarding, making those sales on our physical soybean and corn crops would have been much more profitable when compared to sales made at or postharvest once yields had been established.”

Brandau used calls options to make his mark early. “In the beginning of the marketing year, buying call options and selling them on a big rally worked,” he says. “Looking for setbacks in the market to re-establish long calls again worked pretty well.”

He says it was difficult to not make large trades on large positions during the early rallies. “Any wrong moves would have set you back,” says Brandau. “The fact that we had until October to sell everything helped (in making widespread sales).

“I had profit in calls. But I had to take profits or at least protect (against losses) with stops, or the wild swings would take it away. Short-term strategy worked better,” he says.

Brandau also sold futures, then bought them back on a steep incline. “I then established short futures on rallies,” he says, adding that he got out of positions “as soon I realized it was a losing position.”