Peanut farmers and other associated industry representatives attending the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Panama City, Fla., expressed some optimism for the 2011 peanut crop and prices, along with concerns about the ongoing drought in the Southwest, reduced acreage across the peanut belt and also hopes that recent rains across the Southeast will continue until harvest.

Marshall Lamb, research leader, with the USDA-ARS National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., says the 2011 peanut crop year has been “interesting.”

The Southwest is “in a long drought and Texas has a huge acreage reduction,” Lamb said.

“The Southeast crop started out slow with a lot of drought early,” but recent rain has generated some optimism.

“We’ve moved from a situation of cautious pessimism to cautious optimism. Southeast growers have a better attitude because of recent rainfall.”

“If this conference had been three weeks earlier, it would have been a poor conference,” said Randy Griggs, executive director, Alabama Peanut Commission. “Recent rains in the Southeast have meant a much better attitude.

“We didn’t get the stands we like to have by this time of year, but with recent rains we have potential for a much better crop than we did a month ago.”

Southwest farmers, he said, remain stuck in a long-term drought and need rain soon.

Tyron Spearman, editor of Peanut Marketing News, said prospects for a good 2011 crop remain uncertain. “The jury is still out. The Southwest is still very dry, and the Southeast has been dry, but has received some rain recently, so conditions are looking better. We are optimistic that we’ll make a good crop if we can get rains between now and harvest time.”

Uncertainty is keeping contract offerings at an all-time high.