Grain prices are excellent, fertilizer prices are high, but stable, and seed supply is good — the table is set for a good grain crop in the upper Southeast in 2011.

Two factors will likely determine how much grain is planted in the Carolinas and Virginia: cotton and good memory. Cotton prices continue to climb and too many farmers remember the disaster of the 2011 grain crop.

Last year North Carolina and Virginia grain yields were decimated by drought in the heart of the growing season and by record breaking heat, especially nighttime heat during critical periods in corn and soybean bloom and grain set.

Grain yields just high enough to negate crop insurance benefits, but too low to be profitable, left many growers wondering whether the high commodity prices for grain will be adequate to depend on these crops to support a large farming operation.

While a few growers will expand or get into cotton production, a majority will likely stick with grain. The outlook for those who grow corn and soybeans, and especially for those growing wheat and soybeans in a double-crop look outstanding for 2011.

Rich Pottorf, chief economist with Doane Agriculture Advisory Service, says, soybean and corn stocks are at or near record lows and demand is pushing prices ever upward. Worldwide, grain production has been negatively affected by the same La Niña weather pattern that devastated Southeast grain production last year.