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How Do We Have Lemons Year-Round?

The many uses of citrus fruits like lemons make it a year-round staple in kitchens across the world. Like other citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons are produced domestically in the winter months, allowing for year-round production as a plethora of other countries produce their own supply in the United State’s offseason. With proper protection from unhealthy conditions (extreme cold or drought), year-round production can be easily maintained. Since this fruit grows domestically and has a constant production rate, it acts as a stronghold for global exports (as well as imports).

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Aside from America’s ability to produce lemons year-round, the USDA reports that IMPORTED lemons account for 18.4% of the total fresh U.S. lemon supply. In 2021, U.S. lemon imports totaled $180.4 million, up 30% from $138 million in 2020 and up 28% from $141.6 million in 2019, keeping lemons in the produce section all year long.

What Are Lemons?

Lemons are a prominent citrus fruit that is enjoyed across the world. Many people know lemons for their uses in baking and cooking, but the small yellow fruit has many more helpful uses in our every day lives. Lemons can be used as a natural cleaning agent as the acidity can kill bacteria. Lemons are also known for their health benefits as they help promote digestive health as they are loaded with soluble fiber and high contents of vitamin C. All of these useful properties and more are reason why lemons are needed across the globe every day.

Types of Lemons Around the World

  • Eureka Lemon | Originating from California, Eureka lemons also grow in Australia, Israel, and Argentina. (warm climate adaptive)
  • Pink Lemon (a type of Eureka lemon) | Originated in California and is one of the most unique.
  • Villafranca Lemon | Villafranca lemons, are common in Florida. Currently, they grow in Israel and Argentina.
  • Primofiori Lemon | This lemon is most common in Spain and Hispanic countries.
  • Meyer Lemon | They originally come from China and now grow in many countries, especially the USA.
  • Bearss Lemon | Bearss lemons are Sicilian. They also grow in Brazil and Florida.
  • Villafranca Lemon | These mid-sized lemons are of a Sicilian variety.
  • Femminello Ovale Lemon | Femminello lemons are the most favored that grow in Italy.
  • Siracusa Lemon | A popular variety of lemon that comes from Italy
  • Genoa Lemon | originally comes from Italy but is a popular type of lemon that grows in California.

Which Countries Contribute to the Year-Round Lemon Supply


Production Quantity 2020

  • 3.72M
  • 2.88M
  • 2.69M
  • 1.82M
  • 1.59M
  • 1.19M
  • 1.10M
  • 983.39K
  • 667.24K
  • 488.73K

Harvesting and Packaging Lemons Year-Round

Due to the global popularity of lemons, transport of the small citrus fruit is extremely important. Lemons, like other citrus fruit, are temperature sensitive, making temperature control when transporting or storing the fruit crucial to avoiding mold or chilling injury. Lemons should can be kept for up to 4 weeks without damage as long as temperatures remain within the range of 45-to-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Whether its a long distance shipment or just a few hours within a state, lemons are best transported using a refrigerated reefer trailer. These trailers can help regulate and maintain optimal temperatures for any and all produce items.

A majority of the lemons consumed in the U.S. come from either California or Arizona. These hot climate areas are ideal for growing a variety of citrus fruits, especially lemons. Lemons are typically transported using fiberboard boxes that are palletized. These boxes, attached to wooden pallets, allow for constant airflow, helping to regulate the produce’s temperature throughout transit.

Maintaining Lemons Year-Round

A Year-Round Produce

The highest point in production for most variations of lemons is in the winter months (mainly January). Lemon trees begin to bloom in the spring. This stage is when they begin to ripen. Ripening can last from 4-12 months. However, most fruit will be ready to pick in the summertime.

Drought Prevention

Water supply has a heavy influence on whether lemons will harvest throughout the year, or will be based winter-bound. If moisture is maintained within the soil, lemon production can be blooming throughout the year. During a drought, the trees have less of a chance to flower. This will bring longer times between when the fruit starts to ripen.

Temperature Control

Though winter is the highest point in lemon production, the trees can sprout fruit any time of the year. A lemon tree’s annual production rate is dependent on the temperature and environmental conditions surrounding it. Lemons thrive in mild, warm climates like Mexico, California, and India. In areas inward from the coast where they grow (Arizona is a large producer of America’s inland grown lemons), are more vulnerable to season changes and only tend to flower at particular times of the year. Also, winter harvests may die in those areas because frost easily damages the fruit.

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Worldwide Trade

Top Lemon Exporters in 2020 (USD)

  • Spain: $1 B (27.2% of exported lemons/limes)
  • Mexico: $530.2 M (14%)
  • South Africa: $375.8 M (9.9%)
  • Netherlands: $329.4 M (8.7%)
  • Turkey: $271.9 M (7.2%)
  • Argentina: $184.9 M (4.9%)
  • United States: $180.3 M (4.8%)
  • China: $168.7 M (4.4%)
  • Brazil: $102.2 M (2.7%)
  • Italy: $95.4 M (2.5%)

Top Lemon Importers in 2020 (USD)

  • United States: $659.38 M (15.36% of exported lemons/limes)
  • Germany: $456.32 M (10.63%)
  • France: $276.92 M (6.45%)
  • Netherlands: $271.37 M (6.32%)
  • Russia: $232.63 M (5.42%)
  • United Kingdom: $198.11 M (4.61%)
  • Poland: $184.73 M (4.30%)
  • Saudi Arabia: $139.87 M (3.26%)
  • Italy: $138.85 M (3.23%)
  • Canada: $127.42 M (2.97%)

Tariffs On Lemons Year-Round

This fruit falls under the “lemons and limes, fresh or dried” category when shipping abroad. In 2020, Lemons were the world’s 740th most traded product. The lemon trade represents 0.023% of total world trade. In 2018 the average tariff for Lemons and limes, fresh or dried was 20.4%, making it the 542nd lowest tariff.

Ship Lemons Year-Round with FreightCenter

Have trouble finding a way to ship produce? Let FreightCenter help! We’re experts when it comes to shipping products both nationally and internationally. Our carriers and freight agents can ease you into the process to ensure it’s a smooth ride for both you and your shipment. Use FreightCenter’s free online quote tool to begin. Call our shipping experts at 800.716.7608.

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