Knowledge Exchange

Ag Economy

Fruit

Apples

  • New York’s 2018 apple production is estimated at 31 million bushels, or 1.30 billion pounds, slightly higher than last year. This production roughly on par with the state’s five-year average.1 Yield and fruit size has been good.
  • USDA estimates overall 2018 US apple production at 11.5 billion pounds, less than one percent larger than the previous year’s crop. Washington’s production came in roughly 12 percent lower than the prior year, while Michigan rebounded from 2017’s poor harvest with a 40 percent increase.
  • U.S. fresh-market apples in storage (65.5 million bushels) are 10 percent less than in 2018 and five percent less than the five-year average. Processing apples in storage (26.3 million bushels) were 13 percent less than in 2018 and seven percent less than the five-year average.
  • In the processing apple market, prices have improved slightly, but have not kept pace with rising costs of production. There has been some increased interest in cider varieties due to growth in that sector.
  • Canada has hinted that they may add apples to their list of U.S. commodities targeted for retaliatory tariffs in response to U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
  • Early forecasts are that the 2019 crop will be large. With the current trade disputes, a large crop could be difficult to sell, pushing prices lower.2

Peaches

Following 2017’s record year, yields and prices were off somewhat in 2018 resulting in a roughly break-even year for many growers.

Juice Grapes

Good growing conditions led to an above average crop in the East for 2018. Juice grape prices have been low for years, but major processors seem to have balanced inventory more closely with demand, which should lead to higher pay prices this year. Winter conditions were favorable in the East, and wood growth on vines indicates another strong crop for 2019.  

Wine

  • 2018 was a good year for grape yield, but wet conditions brought significant disease pressure. Storage tanks are mostly full from last year’s bumper crop, so juice and bulk wine will have to find markets, probably at lower prices.
  • Reports indicate that visitor counts continue to decline slightly as craft beverage options expand, but overall retail spending is keeping pace or slightly higher than last year. The increase in retail sales is mainly in increased tasting fees, non-wine sales and slightly increased wine prices rather than increases in cases sold.
  • Nationally, total wine consumption growth has flattened since 2013. Ten years ago, consumption growth was around five percent, which has since fallen to between one and two percent. Sales growth has largely been due to higher price points rather than increased volume. Direct-to-consumer sales have been strong. 

Small Fruits

New Jersey highbush growers reported reduced yields, and average prices, resulting in a mediocre-to-average year. Meanwhile in Maine, the wild blueberry market is struggling with prices at a 10-year low, and reduced yields. Highbush blueberries are often sold on the fresh market, and lowbush, or “wild” blueberries are generally sold for processing, which explains the price disparity. 

Cranberries

  • The cranberry market continues to struggle with low prices from independent handlers, below cost of production.
  • Prices paid by Ocean Spray, while higher, have declined as well.
  • USDA/NASS estimates 2018 U.S. cranberry production at 8.63 million barrels, three percent higher than 2017.
  • The Massachusetts crop is estimated at 1.90 million barrels, one percent lower than last year. Continued ample production will limit upward price movement. The industry’s Cranberry Marketing Committee projects that supply will exceed demand in the coming year by 66 percent . In an effort to manage supply, USDA passed a marketing order reduction for the 2018 crop, however, this marketing order impacted only a small number of handlers.

1 New York Apple Association
2 Northwest Farm Credit Services
3 Capital Press, October 2, 2018