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ON THE COVER
U.S. exports of horticultural products to all countries in March totaled $877.8 million, down 2 percent from the same month a year earlier. During March 1998, 9 out of the 15 categories registered increases, compared with March 1997. Categories with the most significant increases in March were wine (up $12.9 million, or 44 percent), fresh citrus (up $6.7 million, or 7 percent), and tree nuts (up $5.3 million, or 7 percent). The miscellaneous category registered the most significant decline in March (down $43.6 million or 17 percent). Of the miscellaneous category, essential oils declined $24.8 million or 32 percent. During the first 6 months (October-March) of fiscal year 1998, the total value of U.S. horticultural exports was $5.2 billion--2 percent below the same period last year. The horticultural product export forecast for total fiscal year 1998 has been reduced by $200 million to $10.6 billion based largely on lower prices for tree nuts, citrus and essential oils. A strong U.S. dollar and a weak Japanese economy have also hampered export growth in 1998. On the positive side, U.S. horticultural product exports to Canada and Mexico remain strong, up 10 and 16 percent, respectively, during the first half of fiscal 1998.