Deciduous Tree Fruits

SIC 0175

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This classification includes establishments primarily engaged in the production of deciduous tree fruits. Establishments primarily growing citrus fruits are classified in SIC 0174: Citrus Fruits and those growing tropical fruits are classified in SIC 0179: Fruits and Tree Nuts, Not Elsewhere Classified.

The deciduous fruit industry consists of farms and orchards that maintain and harvest a variety of fruits, specifically apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums/prunes, pomegranates, and quinces. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, apples led 2009 crop production with 4.5 billion tons, followed by 1.1 million tons of peaches, 936,000 tons of pears, and 304,000 tons of prunes and plums. The value of the apple crop alone in 2009 was in excess of $2.2 billion. The apple crop also constitutes the country's third largest fruit crop, trailing grapes and oranges.

In the early 2010s, almost 1.8 million acres of farmland were devoted to the growth of major deciduous fruits in the United States. This is indicative of the steady market for deciduous fruits, as the acreage devoted to these fruits 15 years earlier was about 1.7 million acres and harvesting techniques have allowed growers to glean more fruit from fewer trees.

Deciduous fruits are divided into two groups according to climate requirements: warm-temperate fruits and cool-temperate fruits. Warm-temperate fruits include apricots, peaches, and plums. Cool-temperate fruits include apples, pears, and cherries. Both categories need a certain, short period of low temperatures during winter dormancy, called a chilling period, in order to flower and produce fruit.

Chilling periods vary greatly not only among disparate fruits but among different varieties of the same fruit as well. For example, some varieties of peaches require 250 hours of chilling while others demand as many as 1,000 hours. Apples and cherries generally need more than that. An inadequate chilling period can result in a number of problems. Flower buds may die or blossoms may drop before they open. Those flowers that do develop may not set fruit, or the fruit may be undersized. Growers consider the chilling period of primary importance in the success or failure of their crops. These temperature conditions therefore preclude commercial production of deciduous fruits in colder or warmer climates.

Top deciduous fruit producers by revenue in the early 2010s were CM Holtzinger Fruit Company and Wells and Wade Fruit Company, both located in Washington. Top apple and pear companies by acreage were Stemilt Management (Washington) and Naumes (Oregon). Top stone fruit companies included Gerawan Farming (California) and Lane Packing (Georgia).

Apples
More land is devoted to the growing of apples than any other fruit in this category, and apples are third in number of acres planted for all fruit in the United States, behind oranges and grapes. The total value of U.S. apple production in the early 2010s reached $2.2 billion. Thirty-two states produced apples commercially. Out of the nearly 9 billion pounds of apples produced in 2009, Washington accounted for almost 60 percent. New York and Michigan were the second and third largest producers, respectively. More than 100 varieties of apples were grown commercially in the United States, and consumption figures remained high at 16.4 pounds per person annually for fresh apples and another 33.4 pounds per person for processed apples, including apple juice. Imports of fresh apples were down 28 percent to 76.6 million pounds in 2010, while exports remained high at 1.2 billion pounds.

Apricots
Apricot production in the United States was fickle in the first decade of the 2000s. Production was 82,460 tons in 2001, then rose to 90,140 tons the following year before plummeting to 77,000 tons in 2008 and further dropping to 59,500 tons in 2009. Acreage planted correspondingly decreased, from 13,750 in 2007 to 12,350 in 2009. The number of growers also declined as farms became larger and production more concentrated. California was the leading state in apricot production, accounting for almost 92 percent of the crop in 2009. Washington and Utah also grew apricots. Of the apricots produced in the United States in 2009, about 67 percent went to processed products, including canned, juiced, frozen, and dried, and the remainder of the fruit was sold as fresh.

Cherries
Cherries, classified as two types (sweet and tart), experienced increased demand in the first decade of the 2000s due partly to research showing that they include antioxidants and other health-enhancing compounds. U.S. sweet cherry production in 2009 reached almost 430,000 tons, and tart cherry production totaled around 160,000 tons. Washington was the leading producer of sweet cherries, followed by California and Oregon. Michigan led the nation in tart cherry production; Utah and Wisconsin were also important states for tart cherries. About 99 percent of the tart cherries produced were used for processing, whereas only about a third of sweet cherries were destined for that purpose, with two-thirds going to the fresh market. By 2008, fresh cherry consumption had grown to 1 pound per person, but consumption of both frozen and canned cherries decreased. Total value of the U.S. cherry crop was $568 million in 2009.

Peaches
Peach production declined slightly throughout the first decade of the 2000s, falling from 1.28 million tons in 2002 to 1.11 million tons in 2009. By 2008, annual consumption had dropped to 8.8 pounds per person. Fresh peach consumption actually increased to 5.1 pounds per person that year, and canned consumption decreased from 7 pounds per person in the 1970s to 3.0 pounds per person in 2008. Per capita consumption of peaches also declined steadily, falling to 8.8 pounds per person in 2008, down from 9.3 pounds in 2002. Of this total, however, fresh peach consumption increased (5.1 pounds per person) whereas consumption of canned peaches decreased (3.0 pounds per person). California accounted for about 74 percent of the peaches grown in the United States. South Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, and Pennsylvania were also leading producers. Canada, Japan, and Latin American countries were major importers of U.S. canned peaches. U.S. fresh peach exports declined almost 9 percent to 1.6 million pounds, whereas canned exports decreased almost 7 percent to 91.7 million pounds.

Pears
The United States was one of the world's leading producer of pears in the early 2010s. Mexico and Canada were two of the largest export markets for the commodity in 2010, when the United States exported 322.7 million pounds of fresh pears. Imports, on the other hand, totaled only 69.3 million pounds, a decrease of 29 percent from 2009. Of all the pears produced in the United States, about 60 percent was sold as fresh and 40 percent as processed. Washington, California, and Oregon consistently led the country in pear production. The Pacific Bartlett variety accounted for more than 50 percent of the U.S. pear crop, according to the USDA. U.S. per capita pear consumption was 5.4 pounds in 2008, of which 3.1 pounds were fresh.

Plums and Prunes
Throughout the first decade of the 2000s, plum and prune production fluctuated. According to the USDA, a majority of the fruit was grown on 29,500 acres in California, which accounted for almost 90 percent of the 608,000 pounds of plums and prunes produced in 2010. Other states that grew plums commercially included Michigan, Oregon, and Washington. Virtually 100 percent of the prunes produced in the United States came from California, which farmed about 64,000 acres of plums designated for prunes in 2009. U.S. prune consumption remained relatively low compared to other fruits, at 0.3 pounds per person annually. Plum consumption was slightly higher at about 1 pound per person.

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