An anticipated bumper crop will keep the peanut market quiet during the growing season and could put a damper on farmer contracts this fall.

Still, the industry displays an attitude of “guarded optimism,” say peanut industry experts.

Marshall Lamb, research leader, USDA’s National Peanut Laboratory, Albany, Ga., says some areas of the Peanut Belt remain dry, “but we hope they get rain soon. Optimism is in the air and we hope to deliver a good supply of high quality peanuts and maybe recapture some lost markets,” Lamb said in an interview at the recent Southern Peanut Growers Conference.

Tyron Spearman, editor of the Peanut Farm Market News — an industry online newsletter — and executive director of the Peanut Buying Points Association, says the USDA crop estimate of 2.5 million tons “could go higher with a couple more rains. We have a bigger crop than usual.”

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Spearman said expected lack of contract activity this fall may mean farmers should store peanuts after harvest. “We expect to have about a three- to four-month over-supply. That will take us about four months into next year. The market will drop,” he said. “We hope it doesn’t hit the bottom, $355 per ton.”

Lamb said growers should expect no movement on peanut prices during this growing season as buyers wait “to see where this crop goes. Growers should not hesitate to use the loan as a marketing option,” he advised.

The drought that covers much of the country, including a big portion of the Midwest, may “bring the market to us,” Spearman said. The drought will push up corn and soybean prices and that “will buffer up peanut prices.”

He said peanut buyers will need acreage to meet demand next spring.