Cotton has gotten most of the ink for the 2011 planting season in the Southeast, but the old standby, corn, is likely to remain strong in the region.

Strong demand for corn for ethanol production and continued good demand for livestock feed are driving forces.

Corn has been planted throughout the Southeast this spring and early reports indicate stands are good from the Florida Panhandle to northern Virginia.

Veteran North Carolina State Corn Specialist Ronnie Heiniger says corn’s time is here in 2011, but cautions growers to take heed of past opportunities to grow profitable corn that have turned out to be not so profitable.

“The first outlook for corn this year is all roses, or ears, he jokes. Corn is a miracle that is now ready to happen. Our time is due and the price is right — I believe that firmly,” he says.

“Hopefully, we learned some valuable lessons from the 2010 crop, which was stressful due to near record heat and drought across much of North Carolina. In 2011, corn growers are going to want to grow as much as they can, but they need to remember some lessons from both recent and past history,” he adds.

Among the Southeast states, only North Carolina is expecting a decrease in corn acreage in 2011 — and that’s only a 2 percent reduction.

Georgia and Florida are expecting the biggest acreage increases of 12 and 8 percent, respectively. Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia are all looking at 3-5 percent increases for 2011.

Corn has long-been the go-to crop for rotation in the Southeast. With such high volatility in the market place, many growers are looking more toward maintaining long-term crop viability than toward taking advantage of high market prices. The other part of the win/win situation with corn in 2011 is that corn prices are good, too.