US hop crop deemed a better crop than last year

The 2015 crop exceeded the 2014 harvest by over 12 percent.

hops plant

MOXEE, Wash. — 2015 was not an easy year for hop growers across the globe. However, even with climatic challenges, most contracts are expected to be fulfilled by USA growers and merchants.

Poor yields

In the Yakima Valley, where approximately 70 percent of the US hop supply is grown, high early-season temperatures during the crucial stage of cone development, accompanied by tight irrigation water supplies from below-normal mountain snowpack, meant poor yields for some aroma varieties.

Late-season bitter hops were a bright spot with above average yields, while varieties maturing mid-season saw mixed results.

Most varieties

However, with overall average yields for most varieties grown in the Pacific Northwest and other new production regions across the US, the US hop crop, which represents about one-third of world hop production, is generally good.

Meanwhile, European producers — who rely almost entirely on rainfall rather than irrigation — struggled with one of their toughest years in over a decade due to a major drought, with production 23.8 percent lower than 2014.

Germany, a producer of approximately one-third of the world’s crop, is down 26 percent, according to the German Hop Industry Association November 2015 Market Report.

Growing popularity

While some new and proprietary varieties are expected to be tight due to growing popularity and limited production, it appears that the major 2015 world crop decrease is in high alpha bittering hops, which have some carryover supplies in storage.

Two upcoming reports will give better insight into the current hop situation, including the Dec. 17 USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service National Hop Report, and the final 2015 statistics compilation to be released by Hop Growers of America in late January.

American grown hops

Hop Growers of America (HGA) promotes American grown hops to brewers and merchants of hops both domestically and internationally. HGA facilitates conversations between growers, merchants, and brewers, providing statistical reports to the industry and education on the quality, variety, and tradition of U.S. grown hops.

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