Optimism for this year’s crop may only be topped by high expectations for the 2013 soybean crop.

This year, growers in the Carolinas and Virginia will likely harvest about 2.5 million acres of beans. North Carolina will harvest more than half that total, or about 1.5 million acres. Virginia will likely harvest about 560,000 acres and South Carolina about 375,000 acres.

One reason for optimism is the increase in wheat acreage expected in the region for the 2012-2013 crop.

Last spring and summer, growers in the Upper Southeast harvested about 1.4 million acres of wheat. This year expectations are for an estimated jump of 10-20 percent in wheat acreage, or a bump as high as a quarter million more acres.

The increase in wheat acreage is typically an indicator of soybean acreage, because a high percentage of beans in the tri-state area is planted behind winter wheat.

In several cases in 2012, double-crop beans, because of better summer and fall weather, will likely out-yield earlier planted conventional beans.

Over the past few years, better varieties and better technology have significantly reduced the yield drag between conventional and double crop beans.

Nationwide, projections seem to bear out optimism for increased wheat-soybean acreage in 2013.

University of Illinois Agriculture Economist Gary Schnitkey says, “Operator and farmland returns in 2013 are projected at $314 for soybeans, $152 for wheat, and $204 for double-crop soybeans.

“Wheat-double-crop-soybeans together have a combined return of $356 per acre ($356 = $152 return for wheat + $204 return for double-crop soybeans).”

In the Midwest, corn is still king, bringing in an estimated $467 per acre, but in the Southeast dryland corn will be hard-pressed to compete with the income generated by wheat and soybean double-crop.