USDA Report: 2021 U.S. Citrus Crop Expected To Be Smallest In Over 50 Years

According to the USDA Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook released on March 30, 2022, the U.S. citrus crop forecast for the 2021/22 season is 6 million tons, down 13% from the 20/2021 final utilized total of 6.9 million tons.  If the forecast production is realized, the 2021/22 crop would be the smallest crop in more than 50 years.


Total orange production for the U.S. in the 2021/22 season (November-October) is forecast to be down 15% from the previous season. USDA reports that the decrease is due to smaller Valencia and non-Valencia crops in all three of the major citrus producing states – California, Florida and Texas.  The March 2022 forecast suggests total utilized production of oranges in the U.S. will be below the levels observed in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017/18. The overall low supplies of oranges likely contributed to an increase in prices.  The February 2022 retail price for navel oranges was $1.45 per pound, a 9.4% increase from February 2021.

Interestingly, the Outlook report states that all orange production in the State of California is expected to decline by 5%, split between a 4% reduction in non-Valencia production and a 9% reduction in Valencia oranges from last season.  However, in September 2021, NASS forecast the crop at 14% below the 2020/21 season. At that time, the industry forecast the navel crop would be about 20-25% below the previous seasons’ final utilized production.  Today, with about 6-8 weeks left in the season, the crop is looking to be down as much as 30% overall.

USDA ERS predicts that total U.S. fresh orange imports will reach 276,000 tons in 2021/22 with Mexico and Chile expected to remain the largest supplier followed by South Africa, Australia, and Colombia.  Imports for the period November 2021-January 2022 were up 36% compared to the same time last year.  Chile is up 320% and Mexico is up 28% from the same period last year.

ERS forecast that total U.S. fresh orange exports will reach 494,000 tons in 2021/22, down 5% from last season.  The report indicates that reduced domestic production and higher domestic grower prices are cause for the decline.


The U.S. lemon crop for the 2021/22 marketing season (August 2021-July 2022) is forecast at 976,000 tons, up 10 percent from the 2020/21 total utilized production.  Industry estimates, however, indicate the lemon crop may be up as much as 20% over the previous season.  California accounts for 94% of lemons commercially grown in the Unites States with the remainder in Arizona.  The Arizona crop is forecast to be up 75% over the previous season.

Lemon imports for August 2021-Janunary 2022 were up 30% compared to the same time period the year prior; Chile was up 39% and Argentina was up 116%. Exports for the same time period were down 2% from the previous year.


Total U.S.  grapefruit production is down 13% to 370,000 tons in 2021/22 from 426,000 tons in 2020/21.  Production is forecast to be down in all commercially producing states. Most significantly, Texas production is forecast at 33% below last season’s record breaking low due to lingering effects of Winter Storm Uri in February 2021.

U.S. fresh grapefruit import volumes for the current season (September 2021-January 2022) were up 87% compared to the same time period in 2020/21.  The increase is attributed to higher volumes from Mexico, South Africa, Peru, and China.  Meanwhile, exports were down 36%.

Tangerine, Mandarin, and Tangelos

Total production of U.S. tangerines (including all tangerines, mandarins, and tangelos) is forecast at 25% below the 2020/21 final production levels. The smaller crop is a departure from the average annual increase of 5% that has occurred every season for nearly 20 years.  Nearly 95% of all production is in California with the remainder in Florida.

Imports are up by 142% season to-date for November 2021-January 2022 and expected to reach record levels this season.  Year-to-date exports declined 26%.

To read the full Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook for March 2022, click here.

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