By SEAN ELLIS
BOISE -- Hop acres in Idaho increased 40 percent this year, the result of continued demand from the craft brewing industry for more aroma varieties.
"The craft industry has really driven the acreage increase and it's all aroma varieties," said Parma, Idaho, hop grower Mike Gooding, president of the Idaho Hop Commission. "The craft brewers use a lot more hops per barrel than the traditional commercial brewers ... and the craft industry has put pressure on acreage."
Hop acres in Idaho, the nation's third-ranked hop growing state, increased from 2,423 in 2012 to 3,389 in 2013, according to estimates by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.
NASS didn't track acres by variety in Idaho before 2013 and Cascade was the most popular variety in Idaho this year, with an estimated 637 acres planted. Zeus (503 acres), Chinook (328), Apollo (289) and Super Galena (277) rounded out the top five.
Nationally, hop acres increased from 31,933 in 2012 to 35,041 in 2013, a 9.7 percent gain, according to NASS forecasts.
Hop acres in Washington, the nation's main hop growing state by far, totaled 26,970, a 7.7 percent increase.
Washington's most popular hop variety, Cascade, saw its acreage increase 59 percent, from 2,693 to 4,282.
Hop acres in Oregon, which ranks second nationally, rose 4.75 percent, from 4,470 to 4,682. The most popular variety planted in Oregon by far was Nugget with 1,652 acres, a nominal increase over 2012
The hop industries in Washington and Oregon are more mature than in Idaho, where hops face less competition for acreage from other crops, Hop Growers of America Administrator Ann George said July 23 during HGA's quarterly meeting in Boise.
"We have a new generation of very aggressive young growers down here in Idaho that have been proactive about going out and interfacing with the brewing industry and bringing some of that new market share back to Idaho," she said.
"I'm really happy to see that because we need diversified growing areas," added George, who also heads the Washington Hop Commission. "You don't want to have all your eggs in one basket."
The increased hop acreage is a result of the continued growth of the U.S. craft brewing industry and that sector's demand for high-flavor aroma varieties, as well as emerging craft industries in other nations that are trying to emulate the success of the U.S. industry, George said.