Diane Karr“Chicago Board of Trade, Baby!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Vegas Baby, Vegas!”

Anyway, sometimes when I look at the statement from the grain brokerage firm, I feel that Mr. Corn Farmer and I might as well be taking our chances on the Strip!

I suppose we travel to Las Vegas every two or three years. I’m always impressed with new construction, but seek out old favorites like the fountains in front of the Bellagio. I love how Mr. Corn Farmer is a good sport when I drag him through art galleries and make him sit through shows like “Phantom of the Opera.” It’s not all torture for Mr. Corn Farmer; I’m more than happy to watch football games, drool over Ferrari’s with him, and play a little Blackjack.

Truthfully, I never get that excited at the tables because I feel like farming itself is a daily adventure in risk.

How much money will we make this year selling grain? If I had a crystal ball and could predict a year’s worth of weather and grain markets, I’d give you an accurate estimate.

Until we can predict climate, politics, the economy, we (and our banker) will have to settle for the best “guess-timate.” When we budget, there’s a wide range of scenarios. The best course of action is to mange that risk with tools like crop insurance and selling grain marketing strategy.

vegas strip selling grain commonground nebraska diane karrWhile a round of Blackjack is mostly chance, with a little bit of strategy, marketing grain is mostly chance with a whole lot of strategy and analysis.

Every morning, Mr. Corn Farmer grabs the iPad. Not for Angry Birds or Temple Run, but for charts, graphs, and commentary on grain markets. What happened in the overnight trade? Is corn oversold? Why are soybeans down? What’s the production situation in South America? What’s the demand on the Pacific Rim? Is there news on trade agreements? How strong is the dollar? What percentage of this year’s crop should we sell right now? Should we sell out into the following year?

We study trends and news as much as we can when selling grain, but we also trust the advice of a grain broker who specializes in this analysis. Working together, we feel good about the marketing decisions we make. We might not “hit the jackpot,” but it keeps us farming another year.

Then we check the weather to plan the day. Wind speed, temperature, and precipitation affect work plans for the day as well as the upcoming week. (And what kind of coats I suggest to my children as they head off to school.)

It’s like Vegas, Baby. On a farm.

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