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U.S. Apricot Industry at a Glance

July 02, 2015

Apricot Harvest Techniques, Statistics and Reports  

 
2014 Crop Year, Apricots

Value

$ 52.5 million

 

Production

141 million lbs

(64,128 MT)

Domestic Consumption/For Processing

158 million lbs

(71,731 MT)

Exports

17.8 million lbs

(8,093 MT)

Imports

34.6 million lbs

(15,696 MT)

Bearing Acres

10,840

 

Data Source: FAS, USDA; NASS, USDA

About Apricots

Apricots boom in a California type climate: hot, long summers and wet, cool winters. A dry and temperature stable climate is vital to the fruit maturation because spring frosts can kill the blossoms. Apricots, generally, mature in early summer, which means they are one of the first offered summer fruits. The fruit is harvested commercially just as the skin changes from green to yellow. The U.S. fresh market production season is comparatively short, beginning mid-May to mid-August. Processed apricots, however, are normally offered the entire calendar year. Apricots can be purchased fresh, canned, frozen, pureed, dried and as nectar both in juice and in a concentrated form.

The apricot tree is 8–12 m (26–39 ft) tall, with a trunk of approximately 40 cm (16 in) in diameter and a thick, sprawling canopy. The leaves are ovate, long and wide, with a rounded base, a pointed tip and a finely saw-like edge. The flowers are produced before the leaves, individually or in pairs by early spring. The taste of the apricot flesh can range from sweet to tart and is usually firm and not very juicy. Apricots have a single seed that is enclosed in a hard, stony shell. The apricot fruit is a yellow to orange colored drupe similar to a minute peach, often shaded red on the sun exposed side; its surface can have very short hairs and typically has a smooth velvety skin. A drupe is a type of fruit in which a fleshy part surrounds a shell with a seed inside. A couple examples of drupes other than an apricot are plums and cherries—but walnuts, almonds, and pecans are also drupes. They're just drupes in which we eat the seed inside the pit instead of the fruit.

Apricots have a chilling requirement of 300 to 900 chilling units. The tree prefers well-drained soils with a pH level maintained between 6.0 and 7.0. Some apricot cultivars are self-compatible and do not require pollinizer trees; others like the Moongold and Sungold, must be planted in pairs so that they can pollinate one another.

Apricots are prone to a number of diseases including the following:

  • Bacterial Canker and Blast
  • Bacterial Spot and Crown Gall
  • Brown Rot
  • Black Knot
  • Alternaria Spot
  • Fruit Rot
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Nematodes
  • Viral and Phytoplasma Diseases
  • Graft-Transmissible Problems

 

Varieties

The most common U.S. cultivars of apricots are the Blenheim, Wenatchee Moorpark, Tilton, and Perfection. The ‘Tilton’ is a mid-season, medium size fruit with excellent flavor and is often used for canning. The Moorpark is a late season large fruit with great flavor; however, the fruit often ripens unevenly.

 

Price

The average retail price for fresh apricots is $3.04 per pound, for canned in juice apricots $1.65 per pound, for packed in syrup it is $1.55 per pound and for dried apricots it is $7.73 per pound. Also, it takes anywhere from 3 to 4 lbs. of fresh apricot fruit to produce 1 lb. of dried fruit.

 

U.S. Apricot Production & Demand

Total U.S. apricot production was 64,128 tons in 2014, up from 61,035 tons the previous year. The value of fresh apricots was over $34.5 million, up from $30.1 million in 2013. The value of processed apricots was more than $17.9 million, up from 2013 with $14.8 million.  The value of utilized production for apricots is up 17 percent.

2012/13 Major Players in Apple Market Click on U.S. Apricot Production Graph to Enlarge.
Prepared by FPP using data from NASS, USDA.

In the U.S. from 1972 to 2009 total apricot consumption per person oscillated between 0.8 and 1.6 pounds. Consumption of dried apricots increased and consumption of canned apricots decreased, while fresh-market consumption remained fairly constant, less than 0.2 pounds per person. Increasing imports, industry promotions, and a growing health-conscious populace have sustained domestic production and consumption.

There are over 300 California growers in the San Joaquin Valley.  They produce over 95% of the apricots grown domestically.  The remaining 5% largely come from Washington or less than a percent from Utah.  Apricots grown in Washington have a federalmarketing order.  The marketing order prescribes minimum grade, size, quality, maturity, and inspection of apricots.  During the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons, however, the requirements were suspended to reduce overall industry expenses and increase net returns to growers and handlers.  

According to NASS the total number of apricot acres has decreased from 12,650 in 2007 to 11,850 in 2011 and then 10,840 in 2014.

 

U.S. Apricot Trade

2012/13 Major Players in Apple Market Click on U.S. Apricot Export Graph to enlarge.
Source: FAS, USDA

The top markets for U.S. exports are its partners in NAFTA: Canada and Mexico.   The U.S. exported over 5,179 MT ($11.7 million) to Canada and 2,071 MT ($3.78 million) to Mexico in 2014.  The next closet export market was Japan who imported 215 MT ($1.82 million) from the United States in 2014.   

2012/13 Major Players in Apple Market Click on U.S. Apricot Imports Graph to enlarge.
Source: FAS, USDA.

The United States has a trade deficit when it comes to apricots.  In 2014, the U.S. exported 8,093 MT ($19.1 million) but imported 15,696 MT ($58.2 million), almost double the amount of exports.  Imports from Turkey, the world’s largest producer of apricots, accounted for 90 percent of the apricot imports: 13,327 MT ($52.6 million).  The second largest supplier was Chile with 459 MT ($1.3 million). 

 

World Apricot Industry

2012/13 Major Players in Apple MarketClick on World Apricot Graph to enlarge.
Source: FAO.

World production of fresh apricots has been on the rise since 1993, increasing more than 75 percent. Turkey is the largest producer of both fresh and dried apricots in the world, producing roughly 811,609 MT in fresh apricots and 161,893 MT in dried apricots in 2013. The second largest producer of fresh apricots is Iran at 457,308 MT in 2013. Turkey is the only country that really produces dried apricots. The United States is the second largest producer of dried apricots in the world but only produced 12,000 MT in 2013.

More Information on Apricots

  • The following GAIN reports concerning apricots have been released since 2011:

Russia – Market for Dried Fruits Expected to Grow in 2014
Poland – Good Prospects for 2013 Poland's Cherries
Taiwan – Select Peaches, Nectarines, and Cherries
Italy – Italy Stone fruit 2011
Greece – Greece Stone Fruit Annual 2011
Croatia – Fruits and Vegetables Market Brief

 

 

 

 

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