Hops harvest

A wagon load of hops enters the warehouse during harvest last September at Wenas Hop Co., Selah, Wash. The state grew 73 percent of the nation’s hops in 2018. Idaho and Oregon grew the rest.

MOXEE, Wash. — U.S. hop production reached a record high of 107 million pounds in 2018, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

But production grew just 1 percent in 2018 versus 20 percent in 2017, a NASS report says. The U.S. produced 106 million pounds of hops in 2017 and 87 million in 2016.

There was a 3,000-acre increase in 2017 and a big jump in yields after 2016 had been impacted by weather and a lot of baby hops at negligible production, said Ann George, administrator of the Hop Growers of America and the Washington Hop Commission, both in Moxee.

The national organization holds its annual meeting in Monterey, Calif., Jan. 22-25.

Hop supply, mostly used for making beer, has increased for several years because of tremendous growth in craft beer production. But the annual rate of craft beer growth has slowed from 20 percent to 5 percent, resulting in less demand for some aroma hop varieties, George said.

In September, hop stocks were up for the third September in a row following being up for the third March in a row.

Pete Mahony, vice president of supply chain and purchasing for John I. Haas, Inc., Yakima, said consumption appeared to be keeping pace with supply, a positive sign.

The industry hopes that’s the case preventing oversupply and a big downturn in prices but there are a lot of variables, George said.

“We have over 60 hop varieties in the U.S. and over 100 in the world and each one has a micro market. So it’s difficult for the merchant sector to maintain adequate inventories of all the different varieties,” she said.

Some aroma varieties are still being expanded to meet demand while others are being reduced because they have met demand, she said.

Drought has reduced European production and stimulated growth elsewhere, George said.

U.S. production had become 80 percent aroma varieties and 20 percent alpha but has now shifted to 76-24 as alpha prices have improved and there’s a need for more alpha grown outside Europe, she said.

U.S. hop growth outside the Pacific Northwest has slowed as some small growers, in the Midwest and Eastern U.S., without solid business and marketing plans have found growing hops to be harder than they thought, she said.

Value of production in 2018 was $583 million nationwide, down 1 percent from the previous year.

Washington produced 73 percent of U.S. hops at 77.7 million pounds, down from 79 million in 2017; Idaho produced 15 percent and 16.2 million up from 14 million; and Oregon produced 12 percent and 12.9 million up from 12.4 million.

Washington’s value of production was $427 million, down 6.8 percent; Idaho was $86 million, up 22.4 percent; and Oregon was $69.8 million, up 12 percent.

The U.S. price per pound was $5.46, down from $5.60. Washington was $5.50, down from $5.80. Idaho was $5.30, up from $5, and Oregon was $5.40, up from $5.

Combined area harvested in the three states hit a record 55,035 acres in 2018, up 2 percent from the 2017 level of 53,989 acres.

Washington was at 39,170 acres, up from 38,648. Idaho was 8,140 up from 7,125 and Oregon was 7,725, down from 8,216.

The U.S. hop yield, at 1,943 pounds per acre, declined 13 pounds from a year ago. Washington was 1,984 pounds per acre, down 62. Idaho was 1,995, up 21 and Oregon was 1,675, up 157.

Cascade, CitraR, Zeus, Centennial, SimcoeR, and C/T/ZR were the six leading varieties in Washington, accounting for 49 percent of the state’s hop production.

In Idaho, Zeus, Chinook, AmarilloR, Cascade, CitraR, and MosaicR were the major varieties, accounting for 70 percent of the State’s hop production.

In Oregon, Nugget, Cascade, Willamette, and CitraR were the major varieties, accounting for 52 percent of the state’s hop production.

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