June Garner says she just never realized the depths of her ignorance about selling grain until she completed the Texas A&M Master Marketer program.

Garner, who at 78 spry years, plants wheat on acreage near Perryton, in Ochiltree County at the top of the Texas Panhandle, as well as on farms in Chillicothe, in Hardeman County and Mexico, says learning how to market wheat effectively has increased farm income from $10,000 to $30,000 “for folks who have been through the program. Results vary depending on how individuals decide to use the information.

“I was totally ignorant about selling wheat,” Garner says. “I just raise wheat but the process works for any commodity. We have a much better concept of what we’re doing.” She says she has options other than taking what’s offered at the elevator. “I can take that price or enhance it with contracts, puts and calls.”

Garner completed the program five or six years ago and continues to take refresher courses and attends a weekly marketing club meeting. “We have 12 or 13 members who come every week,” she says. “We look at the markets and discuss ideas.”

She had traded in the stock market before attending the Master Marketer program but admits that she was not knowledgeable about selling her crop. “I did not realize how ignorant I was,” she says. ‘I simply did not know what to do and I was not comfortable marketing my own wheat. This was the most helpful program I’ve seen and I am grateful to Texas A&M for providing the opportunity. Most of us did not know where to go to find this information.”

She says in addition to refreshers and special courses when also uses the Master Marketer website to help with sales decisions. “I’d encourage every farmer to take this training,” she says.

In early November Garner was trying to finish planting 1850 acres of wheat. “I just grow wheat for grain,” she says. “I’m too old to look after cattle and chop the ice out of water tanks.”

She says an early snowfall and a rainy autumn hasn’t helped get wheat seeded in a timely manner. “But I’ll get it in before the insurance deadline,” she says. Garner expects to make a good crop. “I always plant 50-bushel wheat,” she says. “I don’t always harvest 50-bushel wheat but it’s 50-bushel the day I plant it.”

Farmers who have not been through the Master Marketer program have another opportunity in January. The first of four, two-day sessions is scheduled Jan. 5-6 at the Gainesville Civic Center. Those who need a refresher or need updating on futures and options trading can attend a leveling workshop on Jan. 4.

Extension specialists agree with Garner that the program pays dividends and say farmers and ranchers who complete the course could net thousands of added dollars annually if they practice sound marketing strategies.

“Anybody who wants to do a better job of marketing and increase their net return consistently should attend,” says Blake Bennett, Extension economist and coordinator of the Gainesville event.

The program teaches participants how to develop marketing plans, evaluate marketing alternatives and manage production and price risks.

“(The program) also helps teach the skills and discipline necessary to execute a risk management and marketing plan,” Bennett says. He says post-training surveys from previous Master Marketer participants support Garner’s claim of potential income increases. Responses indicate an average increase in gross income of $32,000 annually based on the information taught at the training workshop, Bennett says.

“There is no reason program graduates shouldn’t receive this level of increased returns for the next 10 years,” he says. “We (concentrate on) marketing and risk management skills, case studies, group discussions and simulation exercises wherever possible to provide students with real tools they can use on their own farm and ranch operations,” Bennett says.

Instructors include leading professionals from industry and universities across the country. “The Master Marketer Program is an excellent risk-management intensive study,” says Ted Harter, a Parker County producer who recently completed the program. “It’s a must for any progressive ag producer.”

Registration is $250 and includes noon meals and materials. Deadline for registration is Dec. 21. Most of the cost of the program is covered by grants from sponsors including the Texas Corn Producers Board, Texas Wheat Producers Association, Texas Farm Bureau and Cotton State Support Committee.

Anyone interested in attending or learning more about the program can contact an Extension agent in their county or call Bennett at (972) 952-9273