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Idaho hop production jumps 39 percent

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Hop production in Idaho increased 39 percent in 2013, the result of rising demand from craft brewers for aroma varieties. Idaho hop acres are expected to continue to expand this year.

WILDER, Idaho — Hop production in Idaho jumped 39 percent in 2013 compared with 2012 and it’s expected to increase again this year.

Idaho farmers produced 5.88 million pounds of hops in 2013, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. That was a significant increase over the 4.2 million pounds produced in 2012.

Acres harvested in Idaho during 2013 totaled 3,376, a 39.3 percent increase over the previous year’s 2,423-acre total.

“The market has made it viable to expand the acres,” said Parma, Idaho, hop grower Mike Gooding, president of the Idaho Hop Commission.

Gooding said the increased acreage was mainly a result of rising demand by the craft brewing industry for aroma varieties. The top variety grown in Idaho last year in terms of total acreage was Cascade, an aroma variety.

The total value of Idaho hop production in 2013 was $15.5 million, compared with $11.37 million in 2012.

While some new trellises were put in last year, much of the increased production in Idaho was a result of idle trellises being replanted, Gooding said.

He expects production in Idaho to continue to increase this year.

In southern Idaho, where almost all of Idaho’s hop farmers are located, “there are already going to be another 300 acres planted next year,” he said.

Hop production in the United States increased 13 percent last year, as the average price for hops rose from $3.18 a pound in 2012 to $3.59 in 2013, according to NASS.

Hop production in Washington, which accounted for 79 percent of total U.S. production, increased 13 percent.

Hop Growers of America Administrator Ann George said the increased Idaho acreage, as well as a 7 percent increase in Oregon acres, is healthy for the entire industry.

“We really need diversified areas of healthy hop production and it’s very good to see the expansion in Idaho, as well as Oregon,” she said.

Yield per acre in Idaho was down slightly to 1,741 pounds per acre, compared with 1,745 the year before.

Last year was the first time NASS tracked Idaho varieties by acres. Cascade, with 628 acres harvested, was the state’s top variety, followed by Zeus (548 acres), Chinook (324), Apollo (313), Super Galena (278) and Bravo (130).

Idaho hop growers experienced very little powdery mildew pressure in 2013, and there were no big insect issues, Gooding said.

A tight water supply, however, did have an impact and is a wildcard heading into the 2014 season, he added. All commercial hop growers in southern Idaho get their water from the Boise Project Board of Control and that system stopped delivering water on Sept. 5, about a month earlier than normal.

Reservoirs in the region are well below normal and farmers in the area are depending on above-normal snowpack levels to get them through the 2014 growing season.

“That’s going to be a very important, critical thing going forward,” Gooding said.


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