Hop crop shows gains over 2014

— Lower Valley hop growers fared better than expected as yields are 11 percent more in 2015 compared to last year, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The national growth in hop yields happened during a summer drought in Washington state, which produces 75 percent of the nation’s crop.

“Considering the challenges our Washington growers faced this year and the amount of first-year plants in the ground which have a smaller yield, we are pleased with the final count and are looking forward to next year,” Hop Growers of America executive Director Ann George said.

In addition to overall production numbers, the value of the US hop crop increased significantly as well. The report states the current preliminary value is $345.4 million, a 33 percent jump from the revised 2014 value of $260.6 million.

“While it may be puzzling to see value go up 33 percent while the yield went up only 11 percent, we are not surprised,” George said. “Aside from a surge in hop usage, there has also been a large shift in demand – and as a result, a large shift in acres – for aroma varieties which nearly always have a lower yield, but a similar per-acre cost of production.

She added, “When you swap out one hop for another that requires more land to produce the same amount of hops, it’s just basic math to figure out your pricing structure will have to change.”

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