Lemons are the only U.S. citrus commodity forecast this season to exceed last season’s production levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reported recently. At a projected 976,000 tons, lemon production is expected to be 10% higher than last season.
Ninety-four percent of lemons commercially grown in the United States are from California. Despite the higher domestic production, prices are up 5% from the same time last year. Fresh lemon prices for growers this season (August to January) average $30.35 per box, compared to $29.03 over the same period in 2020–21.
Total U.S. grapefruit production is projected to be down 13% to 370,00 tons in 2021–22, from 426,000 tons in 2020–21. Production is forecast down in all commercially producing states. Texas production is forecast 33% below the record low of last season due to lingering effects of last year’s Winter Storm Uri, which hit in February 2021.
Current fresh grapefruit prices are registering higher than the five-year average. The U.S. fresh grapefruit average grower price from November to January was $31.77 per box, 23% above the average price from the same period last season.
U.S. fresh grapefruit imports for the current season (September to January) were up 87% compared with the same period in 2020–21, including higher imports from Mexico, South Africa, Peru and China. Season-to-date fresh grapefruit exports were down 36%, mostly because of fewer tons sent to Korea, Japan and France.
Total production of U.S. tangerines, a group including tangerines, mandarins and tangelos, is forecast at 878,000 tons for 2021–22. If realized, this quantity will be a 25% decrease from the 2020–21production level.
This smaller expected harvest will be a departure from a growth trend of tangerine production in the U.S. over the last 20 years. Production has increased at an average annual rate of 5% since the 2001–02 season. Smaller harvests are projected in both California and Florida, with 95% of all domestic production occurring in California.
Tangerine imports are up 142% season to date; exports declined 16%.
See the full USDA Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook here.
A previous article based on the outlook reported on expected reductions in U.S. orange and orange juice production.
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