YAKIMA, Wash.-- Hop growers are expecting a larger crop in 2015 despite drought.
Fertile soil, a desert like climate and usually abundant natural water sources, has proven to be a magical combination for hops.
“We just seem to have the right conditions here in the Yakima Valley to grow the hops,” says hop grower Ed St. Mary.
The Yakima Valley produces over 70 percent of U.S. hops. And as the demand for craft beer continues to grow, the demand for one of the key ingredients needed for beer, has pushed growers to increase hop acreage.
“The increasing demand is driving us all crazy to be honest; we just keep putting up more and more hop fields,” says St. Mary.
Although this year has proven challenging for most growers in our area; due to heat stress and water shortages, the U.S hop industry is expecting 74.5 million pounds of hops this harvest season.
Which exceeds last year’s 71 million pound crop.
“We’re expecting 3.5 million more pounds this year from last year because of the added increase in acreage,” says communication specialist for Hop Growers of America, Jaki Brophy.
This total represents over 50 different hop varieties.
Each variety will be impacted at different levels. Some aroma varieties are expected to have greater yield impacts from June's unseasonable heat. Others are thriving in the sun, but the impact is mixed and the increased acreage should balance out the outcome of the harvest.
St. Mary says new technologies to ensure enough water is available are also helping these crops.
“If you look down each one of those hop rows, there’s a drip hose. Almost all hops in Yakima Valley are drip irrigated so it’s a very efficient form of irrigation.”
Placing the real challenge on finding more room to grow hops as the craft beer industry continues to boom.
“Keeping up with the demand is the biggest challenge,” he says.
Hop Growers of America anticipate hop acreage to continue to expand in the Pacific Northwest in the upcoming years.
Growers expecting more pounds of hops despite drought
U.S. hop growers are expecting 3.5 million more pounds of hops for 2015 harvest as a result of an increase in acreage.