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Red wine varieties topped white in California’s 2022 grape crush

Monday, February 5, 2024

Red or white wine? Red wine varieties accounted for the largest share of grapes crushed in 2022 in California, the top wine grape-producing State. California growers raise more than 100 different varieties of wine grapes, according to the annual California Grape Crush Report. In 2022, Cabernet Sauvignon, a red varietal, accounted for California’s largest share of grapes crushed at 15 percent. White varietal, Chardonnay, came in second among wine grape varieties at 14 percent and was the top white wine variety by volume crushed. Other table grape and raisin-type grape varieties collectively represented 5 percent of the 3.7 million tons of grapes crushed for wine, concentrate, juice, vinegar, and brandy. California producers grow about 94 percent of the total U.S. grape crop, with nearly 70 percent of the State’s grape acreage dedicated to wine-type grapes. In the past few seasons, the value of the wine grape crop, both red and white, in California exceeded $3.6 billion. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023.

Demand for domestic vegetable oils boosted by rising biofuels production

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

U.S. policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions have encouraged the production of biofuels—fuels derived from crops and animal fats. The policy framework has supported expansion in the production of biomass-based diesel. Biomass-based diesel includes biodiesel and renewable diesel, which now captures the second-largest share of biofuel production, after ethanol. With vegetable oils as the main feedstock in biomass-based diesel production, demand for major vegetable oils (soybean, corn, and canola) for the 2022/23 marketing year (October-September) reached a high of 19.1 billion pounds, up nearly 4.5 billion pounds from 2021/22. Use of soybean oil accounts for more than 40 percent of total feedstocks used for biomass-based diesel production. It increased from 5 billion pounds in 2014/15 to 12.5 billion pounds in 2022/23. Corn and canola oils also are increasingly used in biofuel production, though in lesser amounts. To date, U.S. production of soybean, corn, and canola oils has not been sufficient to cover the rise in domestic use. Rising domestic demand is supported by increasing imports, which now supply more than 29 percent of domestic vegetable oil consumption. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Oil Crops Outlook, December 2023.

U.S. cotton mill use shrinks to lowest in nearly 140 years

Thursday, January 18, 2024

U.S. cotton mill use—the volume of raw cotton processed into textiles—is estimated at 1.9 million bales for the 2023/24 marketing year (August–July). If realized, cotton used by U.S. textile mills would fall to its lowest level in more than 100 years—since the 1884/85 marketing year, when approximately 1.7 million bales were used. U.S. cotton mill use has been mostly on a downward trend since the early 1940s when cotton use peaked during World War II. Soon after the end of the war, synthetic fibers were developed and began substituting for cotton. Use of synthetics in the production of textiles continued to expand and further reduced cotton mill use through the early 1980s when the downward trend was dramatically reversed. Promotion efforts and programs such as the Caribbean Basin Initiative and later the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) fostered U.S. cotton yarn and fabric production. U.S. cotton mill use rose, peaking again in the mid-1990s, before the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Textiles and Clothing began phasing out quotas on developed countries’ textile and apparel product imports. By the early 2000s, cotton mill use in several countries—particularly China—expanded to take advantage of the phased-out quotas on cotton product exports to the United States. Although U.S. raw cotton exports benefited from increased foreign mill demand, U.S. cotton mill use weakened, and the downward trend led to the near historically low 2023/24 U.S. cotton mill use projection. This information is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s December 2023 Cotton and Wool Outlook.

Large-scale family farms lead in terms of value of production for many commodities in 2022

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Large-scale family farms accounted for a majority of the value of commodity production in 2022, including cash grains and soybeans (51 percent), hogs (56 percent), cotton (65 percent), specialty crops (65 percent), and dairy (76 percent). On the other hand, small family farms accounted for 3 percent of the value of production for dairy, 4 percent for cotton, 7 percent for specialty crops, and 26 percent for beef, but they produced the majority of hay (53 percent) and 45 percent of poultry and eggs. The value of production by nonfamily farms ranged from 5 percent for both hay production and poultry and eggs production to 19 percent for specialty crop production. This chart uses data appearing in America’s Farms and Ranches at a Glance, published December 2023.

U.S. wheat imports reach 6-year high

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

U.S. wheat imports are forecast at their highest in 6 years for the 2023/24 marketing year (July–June). Consecutive years of drought in key U.S. growing regions of hard red winter wheat, an ingredient used for making bread, Asian noodles, and flour, have tapered U.S. output, elevating domestic prices. Millers have sought less expensive sources, including competitively priced wheat from the European Union (EU). U.S. imports of hard red winter wheat, mostly from the EU, for 2023/24 are at 25 million bushels, a record high, and up from 5 million bushels from 2022/23. This trade flow is atypical. U.S. wheat imports are normally driven by hard red spring and durum wheat from neighboring Canada. In 2017/18, imports from Canada of both classes of wheat were elevated because of drought-related supply issues in the United States. While U.S. imports of hard red winter wheat are elevated in 2023/24, imports of soft red winter and white wheat are relatively close to normal levels. Related to tight supplies of this hard red winter wheat in 2023/24, U.S. exports of this class of wheat are forecast at their lowest level on record. This chart is drawn from the November 2023 Wheat Outlook, published by USDA, Economic Research Service.

U.S. apricot production trends lower

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

How do you like your apricots? Apricots, a stone fruit like peaches, plums, and nectarines, are typically either processed by canning, freezing, or drying, or sold as fresh, whole apricots. Regardless of how you like apricots, their production has been decreasing since the 1990s in response to falling U.S. consumption, especially for processed apricots. Commercial production is concentrated on the West Coast, with California representing 90 percent of apricot production in 2023. The U.S. apricot industry has experienced a long-term downward trend in bearing acreage, falling 62 percent over the past 20 years. Growing competition from imports of processed apricot products and a general increase in consumption for all fresh fruit have encouraged growers to divert more of their acreage to higher valued commodities, resulting in fewer bearing acres of apricots and shifts in use. The downward trend in production has coincided with a decrease in the share of apricots used in the processing market. During the first three seasons of this decade (2020–22), processed utilization has averaged 45 percent—down from 63 percent during the early 2010s and 89 percent in the early 1980s. This reflected both small gains in fresh market use and a marked downward trend in processing uses (particularly canned and frozen). Until the 2020s, the volume used as fresh apricots had been trending higher each decade—roughly pacing population growth. This chart first appeared in the September 2023 Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, published by USDA, Economic Research Service.

Recent rice and fertilizer price surges affected U.S. rice farming profitability

Thursday, January 4, 2024

According to data from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), recent returns from rice farming are positive, on average. From 2012 to 2022, U.S. rice farmers received a positive net return (equal to the value of production minus costs) in all years except 2016, when rice fell to its lowest price of that decade. The total gross value of producing one acre of rice increased 23 percent over that time, ranging from a low of $863.46 in 2016 to a high of $1,439.19. This was, in part, because of strengthening rice prices. Notably, rice prices surged in recent years before reaching an all-time high in 2022. Over the 2012 to 2022 period, the total cost of producing one acre of rice increased by 36 percent. Most of the increase in cost stemmed from an increase in operating costs of 62 percent, while allocated overhead costs increased 6 percent. Surging fertilizer costs, which increased by $150.75 per acre from 2020 to 2022, largely drove the increase. By contrast, allocated overhead costs—a category that includes labor costs and the opportunity cost of land—increased by $12.09 since 2020. This chart is based on data collected from the ERS Commodity Costs and Returns data product.

Genetically engineered crops continue to dominate soybean, cotton, and corn acres planted by U.S. farmers

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Genetically engineered (GE) seeds were commercially introduced in the United States for major field crops in 1996, with adoption rates increasing rapidly in the years that followed. The two main GE trait types are herbicide-tolerant (HT) and insect-resistant (Bt). These traits can be added individually to seeds as well as combined into a single seed, called stacked seed traits. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) reports information on GE crops in the data product Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S. These data show that by 2008, more than 50 percent of corn, cotton, and soybean acres were planted with at least one GE seed trait. Today, more than 90 percent of corn, cotton, and soybean acres are planted using at least one GE trait. Traits other than HT and Bt have been developed, such as resistance to viruses, fungi, and drought or enhanced protein, oil, or vitamin content. However, HT and Bt traits are the most used in U.S. crop production. While HT seeds also are widely used in alfalfa, canola, and sugar beet production, most GE acres are occupied by three major field crops: corn, cotton, and soybeans. This chart appears in the ERS topic page Biotechnology, published in October 2023.

Warming temperatures in U.S. Corn Belt expected to continue into next decade

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

According to weather data from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), temperatures in the Corn Belt, a region spanning across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, have trended higher in recent years and are projected to continue to rise through the end of this century. Two measures can be used to capture how rising temperatures affect crops’ growth—growing degree days and extreme degree days. Growing degree days describe the beneficial temperatures in a day that allow a plant to grow and mature. With rising temperatures, the growing degree days for corn and soybeans increase. A crop’s exposure to added growing degree days is not necessarily harmful; after all, crops need heat and precipitation to grow. However, extreme degree days, which refer to temperatures throughout the day in excess of 30 °C (86 °F), cause heat stress that is harmful for a plant. Each decade since 1992, both growing degree days and extreme degree days have steadily increased with rising temperatures in the Corn Belt, where about 80 percent of all U.S. corn and soybeans are grown. In the decade leading to 2032, both measures are projected to continue to increase. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report, Estimating Market Implications From Corn and Soybean Yields Under Climate Change in the United States, published in October 2023.

U.S. cranberry production down 5 percent in 2023 forecast

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

U.S. cranberries are harvested in autumn, just in time for the holiday season. The 2023 U.S. cranberry crop is forecast to be 7.62 million barrels, down 5.4 percent from the previous year, but equal to the 2020–22 average. The top-producing State, Wisconsin, typically harvests around 60 percent of the annual U.S. cranberry crop. In 2023, Wisconsin cranberry production is forecast to be 4.6 million barrels, down 5 percent from 2022. In the most recent growing season, Wisconsin experienced challenging weather, from record snowfall in April to statewide drought in July. Similarly, Massachusetts—the second-largest producing State—experienced weather-related challenges including a cold, frosty spring and excessive precipitation during the summer bloom. Consequently, production for Massachusetts, which typically accounts for around one quarter of the U.S. cranberry crop, is forecast to decline 11.5 percent from last year to 2 million barrels. Similarly, New Jersey’s 2023 cranberry forecast is expected to be about 550,000 barrels, a slight 2-percent decrease from the 2020–22 average on the basis of atypically hot summer temperatures in the State. Unlike the top three States, which are set to experience production declines in 2023, the fourth-largest cranberry producing State, Oregon, is forecast to see production rise by 17.5 percent from 2022 to 470,000 barrels. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023.

Almond, hazelnut, and walnut prices fall to lowest levels in decades

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

In 2022, tree nut prices fell to their lowest levels in at least two decades. Prices after adjusting for inflation, called real prices, were $1.10 per pound for almonds, $0.51 for hazelnuts, and $0.25 for walnuts. The last time real almond and hazelnut prices were this low was at the turn of the 21st century. Walnut (real) prices are at an all-time low, according to data from the USDA, Economic Research Service. Prior to 2020, the lowest real walnut price recorded was $0.58 per pound in 1999. In 2022, walnut prices were less than half of the previous record low and 14 percent of the high observed in 2013 ($1.82 per pound). Low prices have affected walnut producers’ production decisions. In September 2023, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service forecast that 2023 would be the first year since 1999 that walnut-bearing acreage decreased. Acreage in California, the country’s leading walnut producer, was estimated to have dropped from 400,000 acres in 2022 to 385,000 acres in 2023 and was revised further downward to 375,000 acres in October 2023. Producers have not reduced bearing acreage for almonds or hazelnuts, but prices have decreased since 2014. The decision to reduce acreage stems not only from grower prices but also from a series of conditions growers face that include weather, prices of inputs, and competition from other exporting countries. This chart was drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023.

The top 6 pumpkin-producing States grew 1.2 billion pounds of pumpkins in 2022

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Pumpkins were one of the earliest cultivated crops in the Americas and have become one of the most distinctive symbols of fall. With a variety of uses, from pies and spiced coffee drinks to festive jack-o’-lanterns, pumpkins are grown commercially in every U.S. State. Production has trended up over the past two decades. In the early 2000s, about 4 pounds of the gourd were available per person, increasing to about 6 pounds per person in the 2020s. In the top 6 pumpkin-growing States, farms produced about 1.2 billion pounds in 2022. Illinois alone harvested 630 million pounds. The next 5 largest pumpkin-producing States by weight were Indiana with 160 million pounds, California with 120 million pounds, Michigan and Pennsylvania with 90 million pounds each, and Virginia with 50 million pounds. Most pumpkins are grown for decorative purposes, with a smaller amount processed into puree to be used in food products such as pies, muffins, or breads. However, in Illinois—the largest producer by both acres and weight—about 80 percent of the State’s harvested pumpkin acres are used for processing. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Trending Topics Pumpkins: Background & Statistics page.

Inflation-adjusted orange juice prices up 12 percent over 20 years

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Orange juice, once a staple beverage in many U.S. households, has experienced a steady decline in consumption over the last two decades. While waning consumer demand has played a role, decreased domestic orange production has also negatively impacted per capita availability, a proxy measure for consumption. Orange juice imports from Brazil and Mexico have tempered some of this decline, however, availability of orange juice has fallen from about 5 gallons a person in the 2000/01 marketing year to a forecast of 2 gallons per person in 2022/23. Most oranges grown for the processing/juice market in the United States are harvested in Florida. In recent years, Florida’s citrus crop has suffered from disease and extreme weather events, resulting in smaller orange harvests. Reduced supply has contributed to generally higher orange juice prices. However, adjusted for inflation, prices for frozen concentrated orange juice and not from concentrate (the two main categories) increased at comparatively modest rates between 2000/01 and 2021/22. The price of frozen concentrated orange juice rose by 5 percent over 20 years, while orange juice not from concentrate rose by 12 percent over the same period. The modest increase in the real price highlights the impact of declining demand, somewhat muting the price effect associated with lower supply. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023, and data from the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook and Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer.

India’s recent export restrictions expected to reduce global rice trade in 2023 and 2024

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Global rice trade is projected to decline in 2023 and 2024 after India, the world’s largest rice exporter, implemented additional export restrictions on rice in July and August 2023. India accounted for more than 40 percent of global exports in 2022, supplying more rice than each of the next four largest suppliers—Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the United States. In summer 2023, India placed a ban on export sales of regular-milled white rice while imposing tariffs and additional restrictions on other types of exported rice. Global prices for rice then rose by 12 to 14 percent by the end of July. Prices continued to surge in August, reaching their highest since 2008, dropping slightly by mid-September as panic buying slowed. The impact is felt by many of the world’s food-insecure countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, India’s largest export market. This region is expected to import less rice in 2023 and 2024 even as Thailand, Vietnam, and Pakistan pick up additional sales, despite tight supplies in Thailand and Vietnam. This chart is drawn from the October 2023 Rice Outlook, published by USDA, Economic Research Service. Also see the August 2023 and September 2023 Rice Outlook.

U.S. cotton exports accounted for one third of the global market’s value in 2021

Thursday, October 5, 2023

The United States is the global leader in cotton exports by value, holding a 33-percent share ($5.7 billion) of the global export market in 2021. U.S. cotton exports expanded to $8.9 billion in 2022 and, while U.S. cotton exports in 2023 are expected to be lower than 2022 levels, USDA’s 10-year projections for U.S. exports indicate growth in the long term. In 2021, the most recent year for which complete global data are available, U.S. exports of cotton totaled nearly 3 million metric tons, 47 percent more volume than the next highest exporter, Brazil. Other major competitors in the global cotton market include Australia, India, and the European Union, with 2021 market shares (in terms of value) ranging from 5 to 15 percent each, as well as several exporters from Africa, including Benin, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire. In addition to maintaining the largest share of the aggregate global market, the United States is a key supplier to several top importer markets. For example, in 2021, U.S. cotton accounted, by value, for 39 percent of cotton imports to China, the top cotton importer in the world. Other top destinations for U.S. cotton exports include Vietnam, Turkey, Pakistan, and Mexico. These countries combined with China, accounted for more than 70 percent of U.S. cotton exports in 2021. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report, U.S. Export Competitiveness in Select Crop Markets, March 2023.

Organic strawberries bring growers higher prices than conventional berries

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Fresh strawberry prices tend to exhibit strong seasonal trends in part because of their relatively short shelf life. Even being refrigerated immediately after harvest, fresh-picked strawberries last about 1 to 2 weeks, reducing the ability to store the crop and maintain a consistent supply. In the United States, grower prices for fresh organic strawberries move in tandem with conventional strawberry prices throughout the year while also typically running 40 to 50 percent higher than conventional prices—this difference is known as a “price premium.” In late fall and throughout winter, supply wanes even though demand remains robust. During this period, grower (or farm-gate) price premiums for organic strawberries rise above typical levels. From 2018–22, the highest average price premium was in January, when organic strawberry prices were 74 to 88 percent higher than conventional strawberries. Price premiums in July averaged 18 to 24 percent. Organic strawberry production has increased faster than conventional production. Since 2008, domestic organic strawberry acreage has tripled in California, which provides about 75 percent of U.S. organic strawberry production. This chart updates one that appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report The Changing Landscape of U.S. Strawberry and Blueberry Markets: Production, Trade, and Challenges from 2000 to 2020, published in September 2023.

With domestic chili pepper production cooling off, imports have heated up

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Although domestic chili pepper production has been falling for more than a decade, the rate of reduction has accelerated in recent years. In 2014, U.S. producers in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas grew more than 480 million pounds of chili peppers. By 2022, production had dropped to about 175 million pounds. Generally, this 60-percent decrease can be attributed to reduced acreage and yields. To offset decreasing domestic production and to meet rising demand, many U.S. companies and consumers have purchased imported peppers, most of which are grown in Mexico. In 2014, about 2 out of every 10 chili peppers consumed domestically were produced domestically. By 2022, this share had fallen to less than 1 out of every 10. From 2014 to 2022, the number of peppers exported remained steady, ranging from 66 million pounds to 106 million. However, the share of U.S. peppers exported more than tripled, increasing from 14 percent in 2014 to 46 percent in 2022. Although 8 percent more chili peppers were available in 2022 than in 2014, fewer were grown by U.S. producers. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook.

Global wheat prices cooling with larger exporter supplies expected in 2023

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

After reaching historic highs in May 2022, U.S. and global wheat prices have since cooled as supply concerns for many key wheat exporters have abated. Wheat export prices for the United States, Russia, and France in July 2023 are all well below the peaks observed in May 2022 as an effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ample wheat supplies expected in the 2023/24 marketing year (July–June) in the European Union, of which France is a member, and Russia are contributing to low prices for those exporters. Markets recently reacted to the July 17 expiration of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had sustained Ukraine’s exports through the Black Sea for nearly a year. Russia’s subsequent attacks on Ukraine’s port infrastructure were further reflected in global wheat prices. However, Ukraine is expected to continue shipping some commodities via alternative routes, so price changes were relatively minimal compared with more extreme swings at the start of the conflict. Prices for other suppliers, such as France, were up slightly from May 2023 but 27 percent lower than in July 2022. U.S. hard red winter wheat export prices decreased 10 percent in July 2023 from July 2022 and were 34 percent lower from May 2022. Even so, they are higher compared with other key exporters, partly driven by ongoing drought in major U.S. growing regions. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service Wheat Outlook, August 2023.

Fries on the rise: Nearly half of potatoes now go into frozen products

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The majority of potatoes in the United States are now sold in processed forms such as frozen, chipped, dehydrated, or canned. With the introduction of french fries as a key side dish in quick-service restaurants, the share of potatoes that go into frozen products has risen in each decade since 1979. As a result, almost half of all potatoes going into food in the United States are now used to create frozen products—most of which are french fries. Meanwhile, the share of potatoes used as fresh table potatoes has declined decade by decade. Even the favorable trend in french fries has seen some bumps along the way. After peaking in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the long-run upward trend in frozen potato availability slowed as many consumers embraced low-carb diets or sought alternative food choices and cuisines. However, by the mid-2010s, frozen potato availability once again turned upward, with per capita availability during the pandemic-influenced 2019–21 period up 8 percent from a decade earlier (2009–11). According to industry data and USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) research in the early 2000s, about 90 percent of frozen french fries move through various food service venues. Quick-service restaurants alone account for about two-thirds of french fry usage. This chart is drawn from the ERS data product Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook Tables.

California continues to lead U.S. peach harvest

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

While Georgia is on many consumers’ minds when it comes to fresh, juicy peaches, California is by far the largest peach-producing State in the United States. In 2022, California’s harvest yielded 475,000 tons of fruit, with South Carolina a distant second at 67,400 tons, and Georgia in third place with production at 24,800 tons. California has been the long-time leading producer both for freestone peaches for the fresh market and clingstone peaches for processing. However, the State’s peach production has been trending lower for almost two decades, contributing to an overall drop in U.S. peach production. Total production in the United States in 2022 was estimated at 625,680 tons, 8 percent smaller than the crop in 2019. In 2022, California’s peach harvest was about 5 percent smaller than in 2019 and nearly 27 percent lower than 10 years earlier. Latest reports from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service forecast 2023 peach production to be 13 percent lower than in 2022. Georgia and South Carolina peaches were beset with challenging weather conditions that included unseasonably warm weather in late winter followed by late spring cold snaps. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook, published in September 2022, and has been updated with recent data.