The case for a bumper crop is a strong one, he said. “We have isolated pockets of drought, but prospects from the Virginia/Carolina area into south Georgia are good, even with some isolated dry pockets in Georgia. Also, the Southwest is getting some rain, and with a couple more rains Southwest growers could make a good or at least a fair crop.”

The drought spreading over much of the country could affect peanut markets in a few months as buyers next spring compete with grain for available acreage, Spearman said. That could create a situation for good spring contract offerings.

Randy Griggs, executive director, Alabama Peanut Producers Association, agrees growers have a better outlook this year.

He says Southeast peanut farmers may be off to the best start in the last several years, and producers in other parts of the country appear to be in better shape as well as they look toward the last half of the 2012 growing season. That good start accounts for a positive industry outlook, he says.

He was also high on the 2012 conference, which set an attendance record with more than 630 registrants.

“A strong program,” he said, played a role in attracting growers and industry representatives to the annual conference. “We were not looking for solutions to problems for the next six or seven months,” Griggs said. “We wanted to offer a long-term outlook, something to help growers in planning.”

He said growers report good crop prospects, despite some areas with production problems. “If it’s dry on a grower’s farm, it’s dry all over the world as far as he’s concerned,” Griggs said.  “But the Southeast crop got off to a better start this year. We had a little more moisture, but the last few years started off poorly.”

That good start, he said, “is the reason for optimism.”

Griggs says even the Southwest has a bit more rain than they received last year. “But Southwest growers have issues with water and are concerned. They are likely to continue to be for quite some time.”

The peanut industry displays a “feeling of guarded optimism compared to the last two years,” Lamb says.

He said 2010 and 2011 were hard years for peanuts, “more about devastating drought and heat. And the 2011 drought stretched all across the Peanut Belt.

“This year we have increased acreage and have a good start across all growing regions.”