In the US, the 2020 harvest is underway for many non-citrus fruit crops. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) forecast 2020 production levels up for the pear, grape, and cranberry crops; the apple, peach, and cherry (both sweet and tart) crops are expected to be down.
COVID-19 has brought about many changes, which may potentially affect the quantity of the forecast crop harvested if there are labor shortages. COVID-19 also has a potential impact on domestic, export, and import markets.
US apple crop expected to be smaller
For the 2020/21 season (August-July) US production is forecast at 10.65 billion pounds, down 3 percent from a year ago. Production is expected to be down in all States except for Oregon, which is a small producer.
The Washington crop is forecast to be 7.4 billion pounds, down 3 percent from last year. As for all crops during the pandemic, the supply of labor is uncertain, which could affect the quantity of apples harvested. Lower supplies could put upward pressure on prices. Between the 2010/11 and 2019/20 seasons, apple exports averaged 27 percent of total US supply (production plus imports). As long as high tariffs on apples remain in India and China, the export market will probably remain sluggish, pushing more apples onto the domestic market and exerting downward pressure on prices.
Production in major states where apple processing is important is forecast down 2 percent in New York, down 3 percent in Michigan, down 17 percent in Pennsylvania, and down 16 percent in Virginia. This could push processed apple production down and prices up.