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Yakima climate good for hops

Climate and soil are reasons Yakima Valley produces 80 percent of the nation's hops.

YAKIMA, Wash. — Climate, soil, length of sunlight hours all were factors in the Yakima Valley becoming the premier hops growing region in the United States, says Pete Mahony, director of supply chain management and purchasing for John I. Haas Inc.

It also is of similar latitude to Germany where the first documented cultivation of hops occurred in the year 736. High alpha hop varieties are used for bitterness and aroma varieties are used for flavoring. Acreage is split almost evenly between the two categories.

Based on grower surveys, the June 1 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service forecast was for 35,041 acres of hops in the United States in 2013, with 26,970 in Washington, 4,682 in Oregon and 3,389 in Idaho.

That’s a 10 percent increase from 2012 and is driven by expansion of aroma varieties supplying growth in craft brewing, Mahony said.

— Dan Wheat



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