Editor’s note: This post was updated on Friday, Aug. 20 with the U.S. Apple Association’s final 2021 forecast.
The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate predicts that U.S. apple production will exceed 265.4 million (42-pound) bushels for the 2021–22 crop year. That would be a 2.7 percent increase from last year and a 1.3 percent drop from the five-year average. The crop would have a farm-gate value of more than $3.2 billion, according to the U.S. Apple Association.
USApple presented a plethora of apple statistics during its industry outlook conference, held in Chicago on Aug. 19 and 20, starting with the crop forecast data the USDA complied a week earlier.
During the meeting, leaders from apple growing regions helped USApple pin down its own forecast for the 2021 apple crop. On Friday, Aug. 20, USApple’s data guru Chris Gerlach shared the organization’s final forecast: 243.7 million (42-pound) bushels, down 21.6 million bushels from USDA’s Aug. 12 estimate. Most of the difference between the estimates comes from Washington, where industry leaders predicted 157 million bushels compared to the USDA’s 176 million.
USDA predicts that the top producer, Washington state, will produce 176.2 million bushels of fresh and processing apples in 2021, valued at almost $2.3 billion. The Washington State Tree Fruit Association announced a fresh apple forecast of about 125 million (40-pound) boxes for the state in the coming season, a 2.3 percent increase from 2020 but down 7.2 percent from 2019.
New York, the second largest producer, will produce about 32 million bushels of apples in 2021, down 2.5 percent from last year but up 0.7 percent from the five-year average. Michigan follows at about 18 million bushels, down 18 percent from last year and down almost 27 percent from the five-year average. Pennsylvania will produce 10.9 million bushels, up 10.3 percent from last year but down 4.4 percent from the five-year average.
Gala is expected to remain the top variety in the country, with almost 49.3 million bushels produced, followed by Red Delicious (35.7 million), Honeycrisp (31 million), Fuji (29.1 million) and Granny Smith (27.2 million), according to USApple.
The USApple estimate of 243.7 million (42-pound) bushels is down 5.7 percent from the 2020 crop and down 9.4 percent from the five-year average.
The final breakdown for Western states: Washington, 157.2 million (42-pound) bushels, which includes fresh and processing. California, 4.4 million bushels. Oregon, 4.1 million bushels.
Eastern breakdown: New York, 30 million bushels. Pennsylvania, 10.5 million bushels. Virginia 4.7 million bushels.
Michigan breakdown: 18.25 million bushels.
The estimate for other states: 14.4 million bushels.
For U.S. growers, the price of labor is increasing, while the price they receive for their apples has not. From 2011–2015, the five-year average farm-gate price for all apples was 31 cents per pound; the price dropped to 30 cents per pound during the past five years, according to USApple.
The U.S. industry has become more efficient over time. From 2007 to 2020, the number of bearing acres in the country fell by 16 percent; at the same time, production increased by 13 percent.
China, the top global producer of apples, will produce about 2.3 billion bushels of apples in 2021. European countries will produce about 616 million bushels, while South America (mostly Argentina, Chile and Brazil) will produce 160 million bushels. Canada will produce 18.8 million bushels, according to USApple.