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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