U.S. Lemon Crop on the Rise

Tacy Callieslemons

Photo by Madison Inouye

U.S. growers produced 1.12 million tons of lemons in 2022–23, an increase of 5.5% (or 58,000 tons) from last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) reported. One third of these lemons went to processing with the remainder going to the fresh market.

California lemon production experienced rising acreage and yields with growers in that state producing 1.06 million tons in 2022–23, marking a 50-year record.

Arizona supplied 5% of the U.S. lemon crop this season (56,000 tons). This is the second year there has been an increase in the Arizona crop since the uncharacteristically low yield of the 2020–2021 season. The 2022–23 increase in the Arizona lemon crop was due to favorable weather and increased yields (219 boxes an acre). Yields were high enough in 2022–23 to offset losses from further attrition of Arizona’s lemon acreage. Current lemon acreage in Arizona is 6,400 acres, 300 fewer than in the 2021–22 season.

Given the increase in domestic availability, fresh lemon prices were down during most of 2022–23. The average on-tree equivalent grower price in 2022–23 was $24.83 per box, down $2.06 from the prior season.

Wholesale prices for lemons were also down compared to the prior season. The average minimum low price for lemons was 83 cents per pound over the months spanning August 2022 to June 2023, compared to 86 cents per pound for the same period the previous season.

U.S.-grown lemons accounted for an estimated 78% of all lemons consumed domestically in 2022–23.

The U.S. lemon industry has experienced moderate growth over the last several decades.

Fresh lemon imports totaled 363 million pounds in 2022–23, down slightly from the previous two seasons. Argentina, Mexico and Chile remained the top suppliers of lemons to the U.S. market, together accounting for 94% of all fresh market lemons shipped to the United States.

U.S. fresh lemon exports were down this season by 8%, with Canada, Japan and South Korea remaining the three largest markets for U.S.-grown lemons.

See more information about the 2022–23 citrus crop from the USDA Economic Research Service’s Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service