( File photo )

China’s apple production was down sharply this season, but U.S. apple exporters couldn’t help fill the gap.

The drop in China affected global apple supplies in the 2018-19 marketing season, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

World apple production for 2018-19 totaled 68.7 million metric tons, off 5.7 million metric tons, an 8% drop from the previous year.

The report said China’s apple production fell to its lowest level in almost a decade, dropping 25% to 31 million metric tons for 2018-19. Cold in April and heavy rain and hail in May caused heavy damage to China’s apple growing regions, according to the report.

China’s imports in 2018-19 will grow 12,000 metric tons to 75,000 metric tons; greater shipments from New Zealand and the European Union offset reduced imports from the U.S.

The U.S. faces a 50% retaliatory tariff that China imposed last year in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports.

The report said U.S. apple production in 2018-19 is estimated at 5 million metric tons, about 1% lower than a 2017-18.

Reduced fruit set in Washington was one factor with the reduced crop, according to the report.

U.S. apple exports are predicted to fall nearly 25% to 760,000 metric tons, influenced by retaliatory tariffs on U.S. apples by Mexico. The 20% tariff on U.S. apples was dropped in May, but it was in effect for nearly a year. Continued uncertainty over India tariffs also affects exports. After nearly a year of delays, India imposed a retaliatory tariff of 20% in June.

The report said apple imports will rise to 160,000 metric tons on higher demand from Southern Hemisphere suppliers New Zealand and Chile.