Soybean growers in the Carolina’s and Virginia have more than two million acres of beans planted this year, much of the acreage in a late-planted, double-crop combination with wheat, barley, oats and a few other winter season crops.

Keeping bean pods on the plant and harvesting the maximum yield this year is what long-time North Carolina State University Corn and Grain Specialist Ronnie Heiniger calls a once in a blue moon opportunity.

Rarely, he says, do grain growers in the Southeast find themselves in a position in which weather conditions indicate a good yielding, high quality crop and marketing conditions indicate a record high price. This combination only happens once in a blue moon, he says.

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Growers in the Upper Southeast have planted plenty of soybeans this year, and in doing so, have one of the potentially most valuable bean crops on record.

In North Carolina, it is estimated growers planted in excess 1.4 million acres in 2012, up 4 percent over 2011. An early maturing wheat crop and 800,000 acres planted to wheat most likely means a large percentage of the 2012 soybean crop will be planted behind wheat, and perhaps earlier than usual for double-crop beans.

In Virginia, it is estimated that another 600,000 or so acres of soybeans are in the ground. LikeNorth Carolina, much of the Virginia crop is late-planted in a double-crop system with wheat or other winter crops.

In South Carolina, soybeans have traditionally been a secondary crop, but this year more beans were planted on better land and the opportunity for upping the state average yield is good.

Clemson University Entomologist Jeremy Greene says taking care of late-season insects is a good bet to keeping yield potential high.

“Soybean loopers, corn earworms, velvetbean caterpillars, stink bugs, and kudzu bugs are building in my fields So, growers need to have a consultant look at their soybeans, or need to do it themselves,” Greene says

Species identification is essential to managing the complex of insects that can infest soybeans regularly this time of year. Remember, those identifications will determine what insecticides need to be applied, he adds.

Historically, soybean growers in the Upper Southeast have averaged less than 30 bushels per acre, and in recent years closer to 25 bushels per acre.