Where all the extra acreage will come from isn’t covered in the report, but does raise some interesting questions in terms of overall number of acres to be planted in South Carolina in 2011.

While big acreage increases are predicted for wheat in North Carolina and Virginia, the increased production isn’t expected to come at the expense of barley acreage. With a big ethanol plant that uses primarily barley for stock coming online this spring, the hope for increased acreage within 150 miles of the Hopewell, Va. plant appears to be happening, at least according to the USDA report.

Growers in Virginia are expected to plant 33 percent more barley this year and North Carolina growers by 20 percent. The biggest increase is likely to come from the nearby Del Marva Peninsula, where barley planting in Delaware is expected to jump 50 percent and by an incredible 122 percent in Maryland.

The big increase in barley acreage further confuses the reduction in soybeans in North Carolina and only a slight increase in soybeans in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Historically, double-crop soybean yields have been higher behind barley than wheat, which indicates an even better pricing advantage, if soybean prices remain high.

Of the major row crops grown in the Southeast, clearly the big winner is cotton. Big increases in acreage are indicated in most state by the recent USDA survey of farmers.

Cotton planting is expected to jump by 21 percent in Alabama, 29 percent in South Carolina, 36 percent in North Carolina and 51 percent in Virginia. Georgia and Florida increases are projected at a more modest 9 percent.

Some in Georgia, the Southeast’s largest cotton producing state, contend the USDA estimates are low. The consensus among Georgia ginners and growers is that there will be better than a 10 percent increase in cotton acres in 2010.

Though the survey was initiated in February, prices have not fluctuated greatly since that time, though confidence that prices will remain strong is clearly higher now than when the survey took place.

Overall, the winter of 2010-11 was cool and dry. The nation's winter average temperature of 32.3 degrees Fahrenheit was 0.7 degree below the 20th century mean, and represented the 39th-lowest value during the 116-year period of record.

Florida had the 10th coldest winter on record in 2011. State IPM directors across the Southeast agree this could have a positive effect on insects and diseases that historically move south to north during the cropping season.