As United States fruit growers enter their spring and summer seasons, the USDA is forecasting lower overall prices for domestic growers, driven by larger crops in several major categories.

The forecast follows a downward pricing trend for U.S. growers that began in late 2023 and has continued through 2024. The declines come as the USDA Economic Research Service projects larger yields for domestic apples, strawberries, and oranges.

“As of January, prices were approximately 3 percent below the average January index from 2022–23, but 10 percent higher than the average index from January 2019–21,” the USDA ERS reported.

Almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts have also seen a steady decline from their record highs in the mid-2010s. Those prices are expected to remain low, as the industry anticipates higher tree nut yields for 2024/25. Yields should benefit from good weather during almond pollination and water availability in California. These factors are expected to place continued downward price pressure on the categories. 

Larger crops for apples, strawberries, and oranges should also create lower prices for growers compared to last season.

As of Feb. 1, the U.S. Apple Association reported fresh-market volume was 36% higher than the previous year and 24% above the five-year average

“Increased apple inventory has kept apple prices down, reflecting the bigger 2023/24 production in Washington State,” the USDA ERS said.

Strawberries also enjoyed a bountiful January in Florida, the leading source of local winter strawberries in the United States, as well as in southern and central California. Prices for the fruit saw a 14% drop from the previous year.

Fresh oranges are also receiving lower average prices, resulting from increased domestic supply. The USDA ERS said orange prices increased in December but dropped in January.

By the close of the 2022/23 season, domestic oranges are forecast to reach 2.77 million tons, an 11% increase from the previous year.

Overall, the U.S. citrus crop is forecast to dip 1%, however, to 4.85 million tons. One category expected to take a significant production hit is lemons, almost entirely produced in California, with a forecast decrease of 25% to 836,000 tons in 2023/24.

Tangerine production is also forecast to decrease by 7 percent to 904,000 tons.