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U.S. hop production up 13 percent

Dan Wheat

Capital Press

Hop acreage, production and returns continue to rise in the Pacific Northwest because of more craft breweries. Washington, Oregon and Idaho are the only states growing hops.

YAKIMA, Wash. — U.S. hop production was up 13 percent from 61.2 million pounds in 2012 to 69.3 million pounds in 2013, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The crop was valued at $249 million, up 28 percent from a revised 2012 value of $195 million, according to a Dec. 23 NASS report. The average price per pound was $3.59 up from $3.18 a year ago and $3.14 two years ago.

All of this shows the industry, centered in Washington’s Yakima Valley, is doing very well and probably will be for the next two to three years, said Pete Mahony, director of supply chain management and purchasing for John I. Haas Inc., Yakima, a leader in hop processing, research and development. Oil in the hop cone or flower is used for flavoring and stabilizing beer.

Expansion of small, craft breweries is driving the hop increase, Mahony said. Craft breweries continue to increase in number and size, he said. Craft brewers make up only 7 to 8 percent of the brewing industry but have a 15 percent annual growth. Large brewers comprise the bulk of the industry but average 1 to 2 percent annual growth, he said.

Haas opened a new multi-million dollar center for hop research and development in Yakima in June. It includes a research brewery.

Of the national production, 79.2 percent (54.9 million pounds) comes from the Yakima Valley — mostly from farms around Moxee, Prosser and Toppenish. Climate, soil and length of sunlight hours were factors in the Yakima Valley becoming the premier hop growing region in the U.S., Mahony said.

Another 12.3 percent (8.5 million pounds) is from Oregon’s Willamette Valley between Salem and Woodburn, and the remaining 8.5 percent (5.8 million pounds) is from the Caldwell, Idaho, area.

Acres harvested in 2013 were: 27,062 for Washington; 4,786 for Oregon; and 3,376 for Idaho, for a U.S. total of 35,224. Those figures were up slightly from a June 1 forecast.

Idaho is growing more rapidly in production and acreage than Washington and Oregon. That’s because Idaho has more acreage readily available for expansion while acreage is getting tighter in Washington and Oregon, Mahony said.

Washington will have to expand hop picking and drying facilities in a couple of years to keep increasing acreage, he said.

Oregon growers deal with more downey mildew because of the wetter Willamette climate but some varieties grow better there, Mahony said.

Prices are stronger in Washington and Oregon at $3.68 per pound versus $2.64 per pound in Idaho. That’s because Washington and Oregon have more of the expensive aroma varieties for flavoring and Idaho has more alpha varieties for bitterness, Mahony said.

Harvested hops can be stored three to five years depending on whether it is stored in pellets, extract or further refinements of extract, he said.





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