Farmer Articles

Cash Sale VS. Hedge to Arrive- Hedging with Different types of Grain Contracts


Grain contracts are a vital component of the agricultural industry, providing farmers with a means to sell their crops and buyers with a dependable supply of grain. Nevertheless, the unpredictability of weather patterns and volatility of commodity prices present significant financial risks for both parties involved.

To mitigate these risks, hedging is an effective strategy that involves taking a position in the futures market to offset potential losses from price fluctuations in the physical market.

In this blog post, we will delve into two common types of grain contracts: cash sale and hedge-to-arrive (HTA) contracts, and how each can be utilized to manage risk through hedging.

Cash Sale Contracts

Cash sale contracts are straightforward agreements between farmers and buyers where the farmer agrees to deliver a specific quantity of grain at an agreed-upon price on a specified date. The buyer pays for the grain upon delivery. This type of contract provides certainty for both parties regarding quantity, quality, and price.

However, cash sale contracts expose both parties to significant price risk since they lock in prices at the time of signing the contract. If prices increase after signing, farmers miss out on potential profits while buyers pay more than necessary for their supply.

Pros and Cons of Cash Sales Contracts


  • Immediate Payment: With cash sale contracts, farmers can receive payment immediately for their crops upon delivery. This helps reduce financial risks and improve cash flow by providing a steady source of income.
  • Certainty of Price: Cash sale contracts specify the exact price at which the grain will be sold. This provides farmers and buyers with a clear understanding of the transaction’s financial outcome, reducing uncertainty and risk.
  • Flexibility: Cash sale contracts are easy to set up and can be customized to meet the specific needs of both parties involved. This makes them a versatile option for hedging against market fluctuations or ensuring immediate delivery when needed.


  • Limited flexibility: Once a cash sale contract is executed, both parties are committed to the agreed-upon terms. This lack of flexibility may only be suitable for some situations.
  • No opportunity for upside gain: If market prices increase after executing a cash sale contract, farmers will not benefit from the higher prices.

Examples of When to use Cash Sales:

Cash sale contracts can be a good option for hedging in certain situations:

  • Farmers with solid yield projections may benefit from using cash sale contracts to lock in prices and protect against potential losses.
  • Buyers who require immediate delivery may find cash sale contracts advantageous for securing goods quickly and efficiently.
  • Utilizing these types of contracts can help mitigate risks and ensure smoother transactions in the marketplace.

Hedge-to-Arrive Contracts

Hedge-to-arrive (HTA) contracts are a type of forward contract that allows farmers to lock in future delivery dates while maintaining flexibility on pricing. With HTA contracts, farmers agree to deliver grain at a future date but do not fix the price until later. Instead, they take positions in futures markets to hedge against potential price changes.

This type of contract allows farmers to benefit from rising prices while protecting themselves from falling prices by locking in minimum acceptable prices through futures markets. Buyers can also benefit from HTA contracts by securing future supplies at predetermined prices without exposing themselves to significant price risks.

Pros and Cons of HTA Contracts


  • Price Protection: HTA (Hedge-to-Arrive) contracts offer price protection for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can lock in prices at current rates, while sellers are protected from potential price drops in the future.
  • Flexibility: HTA contracts offer flexibility for both parties. Buyers can delay delivery until a future date, allowing them to manage inventory levels more effectively. Sellers can also choose when to deliver their products within a specified time frame.
  • Risk Management: HTA contracts help manage risks associated with commodity markets by providing certainty around prices and delivery dates.
  • Basis Appreciation: Hedge to arrive contracts separate a cash sale into two transactions, setting futures and basis prices. Since basis and futures are rarely at desirable prices at the same time, this allows the producer to maximize both pricing decisions.


  • Limited Upside Potential: While HTA contracts provide price protection, they also limit upside potential. If market prices rise significantly, sellers may miss out on potential profits.
  • Delivery Risk: As with any contract involving physical delivery, there is always a risk that the buyer or seller will not be able to fulfill their obligations. This could result in financial losses or legal disputes.
  • Complexity: HTA contracts can be complex and require a good understanding of the commodity markets and associated risks.

Examples of When HTA Contracts May Be a Good Option

  • Farmers with Uncertain Yield Projections: Farmers still determining their yield projections may benefit from using an HTA contract to lock in crop prices. This provides certainty around revenue streams, even if yields are lower than expected.
  • Buyers Who Want to Lock in Prices but Delay Delivery: Buyers who want to lock in prices but delay delivery may use an HTA contract to secure supplies at current rates without taking immediate possession of the product. This allows them to manage inventory levels more effectively and avoid storage costs.

Hedging Different Types of Grain Contracts

Cash sale and HTA contracts can be used to hedge different types of grain contracts, such as basis contracts, futures contracts, and forward contracts.

  •  Basis Contracts: Basis contracts are agreements to sell grain at a future date for a price based on the difference between the local cash price and the futures price. Farmers can use cash sales or HTA contracts to lock in a local cash price while waiting for futures prices to rise.
  • Futures Contracts: Futures contracts are agreements to buy or sell a commodity at a set price on a future date. Farmers can use HTA contracts to lock in prices for future delivery dates while avoiding the risks of holding futures positions.
  • Forward Contracts: Forward contracts are similar to futures contracts but are not traded on an exchange. Buyers and sellers agree on a price for future delivery, typically settled in cash. Both cash sales and HTA contracts can be used to lock in prices for future deliveries.

Hedging strategies can vary based on the type of grain contract being hedged and the market conditions. For example:

Farmers may use HTA contracts to lock in higher prices for future deliveries in a bullish market where prices are expected to rise.

In a bearish market where prices are expected to fall, buyers may use cash sales or short futures positions to protect against potential losses.


In conclusion, key points about hedging different types of grain contracts include:

Cash sales and HTA contracts can be used to hedge various grain contracts depending on market conditions.

Hedging strategies should be adapted based on market conditions and the type of contract being hedged.

Recommendations for farmers and buyers choosing between cash sales and HTA contracts include staying informed about market conditions and adapting hedging strategies accordingly. In addition, it is essential to work closely with brokers or other professionals with experience with commodity markets when deciding which hedging strategy is appropriate for your situation.