With harvest beginning in about a month, we’re looking back at a growing season that has been fairly unique in weather patterns throughout the Northwest hop growing region. Crop yield and quality, at this point, seem to have been largely unaffected thanks to the strong growing practices of the growers we work with.
Overall, it looks like a good crop year in the Yakima growing region. Most growers are expecting lower yields on first-year crops due to the late snow. Those that made the effort to work the soil soon after the late melt and got workers out to string and train baby hops were rewarded with stronger baby crops. Pest pressure could be characterized as low this year- possibly a result of the lingering snow cover.
Mature yards are already showing decent cone development. Barring any dramatic weather or other negative pressure, we are expecting a good crop.
Washington continues to the lead the country in hop acreage. The trend of replacing established hops with the newer proprietary varieties continues. Only time will tell how the changes in variety acreage compare to shifting brewer (and consumer) trends. Cascade and Centennial have been the most oft-replaced variety of late.
Now the second largest hop growing region in the US, Idaho accounts for 15% of the hop acreage. Treasure Valley was largely unaffected by the late snow, though they did experience a wetter than normal spring. Accordingly, the baby hops are slightly behind in their normal maturity for this time of year. Many growers are expecting a significantly lower yield from new crops with some ranchers forgoing even attempting a harvest on these new lots. Otherwise, disease and pest pressure have been manageable.
The state also experienced a later than normal winter. Significant rainfall early in the growing season resulted in flooding at some farms. This was followed by an early onset of hotter than normal temperatures. Of late however, Oregon has seen cooler temperatures and some rain reminiscent of early June rather than late July. Despite the meteorological drama, a good yield is expected in the state and disease and pest management has been successful to this point. Growers are keeping their eyes open for mildew issues which have been on the rise in recent years and are particularly hard to spot and combat once the hops have started putting out cones.
Submitted by Chad Kennedy, Hop Specialist – BSG Hops