CHICAGO — Both Canada and Mexico will feature larger apple crops in 2011, but export opportunities for U.S. marketers should still be ample.

Representatives from the northern and southern neighbors to the U.S. briefed attendees at the U.S. Apple Crop and Marketing Conference on Aug. 19.

The U.S. dominates North American apple production with an estimated 227 42-pound cartons, and Canada and Mexico amount to less than 20% of U.S. output.

The No. 1 and 2 export markets (respectively) for U.S. apple marketers, Mexico imported more than 10.5 million cartons of U.S. fresh apples in 2010 and Canada bought more than 6 million cartons, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.

The Mexican apple crop is expected to total 21.8 million bushels this year, up 12% from 2010, said Kelly Jones, partner with Pico Largo SPR, Chihuahua, Mexico. Domestic production in Mexico covers about 61% of the country’s demand for apples, while imports — dominated by the U.S. — supply 39% of Mexico’s apple needs. Mexico’s apple imports were about 11.6 million bushels in 2010, he said.

Jones said Mexico is in negotiations with China on a free trade pact, which could eventually allow Chinese apples to compete with U.S. fruit in the Mexican market.

The reduction in retaliatory tariffs tied to resolution of the U.S.-Mexico trucking dispute is positive for U.S. exports sales to Mexico, he said. However, Jones said some Mexican apple marketers believe they have evidence of U.S. dumping of apples into Mexico. He said one marketer has evidence of $8 per carton apple sales from the U.S. That could prompt trade friction, he said.

“Mexico is an unpredictable market this year,” Jones said.

Canada’s 2011 apple production is estimated up 4.5% over 2010 at 21 million 42-pound cartons this year, said Don Werden, salesman with the Norfolk Fruit Growers’ Association, Simcoe, Ontario, Canada.

“The crop is relatively clean and hopefully not a challenge to pack through,” he said.

British Columbia production is projected down 2.4% from 2010, he said. Nova Scotia output is rated down 5%, but McIntosh volume is projected to be off by 23%, he said. New Brunswick apple output is estimated to be about the same as last year, while Quebec output of 5.8 million bushels is up 5%. Ontario’s apple crop — the biggest among the provinces — is projected at 8.6 million bushels, up 13$ from 2010.