The value of U.S. horticultural trade is expected to reach nearly $30 billion by 2013, but imports will continue to be a significant component in that forecast, according to USDA's agricultural baseline projections to 2013.

While the United States remains a net importer of horticultural products — fruits, nuts, vegetables, and greenhouse/nursery — exports “continue to be crucial to the success of the sector,” economists say in the interagency report released at the annual Agricultural Outlook Forum at Arlington, Va.

Exports are projected to average about 21 percent of production value during the decade.

Grapes, oranges, apples, fresh and processed potatoes, and tomatoes are among the leading horticultural export commodities. Major markets for U.S. horticultural products include Canada, Japan, and Southeast Asia.

“Imports will continue to play an important role in the domestic supply of fresh vegetables during winter months and, increasingly, during other times of the year,” the report notes.

Major imports include bananas, grapes, frozen concentrated orange juice, potatoes, and tomatoes from Mexico, Chile, Brazil, and Canada.

Canadian potato production and potato processing capacity have been increasing more than in the United States. As a result, the United States is expected to be a net importer of potatoes and potato products during some years of the baseline period.