Hop acreage strung for harvest in 2018 for Washington, Oregon, and Idaho is forecast at a record high 55,339 acres: 4% more than last year’s record of 53,282 acres, according to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
Washington, with 39,273 acres for harvest, accounts for 71% of total US acreage. Idaho area strung for harvest was 8,217 acres, or 15% of the US total, with Oregon hop growers accounting for the remaining 14%, or 7,849 acres.
Technological advances in harvest
Hopsteiner, a hop-growing, trading, breeding and processing firm, says it is looking forward to a ‘bountiful 2018 harvest season’ this fall after a successful planting season. Its US hop farms are located in Yakima, Washington.
Harvest season in Yakima commences at the end of August. Hopsteiner says that a slight increase in acreage will boost the harvest, but technological advances and process changes at farms will also contribute to a more efficient and successful harvest.
In order to build better scouting reports and more accurate protection treatments for hop crops, a new software for plant data and plant protection application was implemented for the 2018 season. Hopsteiner also hired a new agronomist, Andres Pascal, to collect samples, harvest plant data, and arrange for better fertility and the benchmarking of plant figures.
Hopsteiner has made several infrastructural investments this past year: including updates to hop combines, a new conditioning warehouse and kiln at Hopsteiner’s Mabton Ranch, and new conveyers for 'hands-free' output. To ensure the highest quality of the hops, both River Ranch and Roza Ranch added new unloading and loading docks with conditioning bins to eliminate any additional touch or contact with the harvested crops.
Hop heavy craft varieties
The top five hop varieties strung for harvest in the US this year are CitraR , HBC394; Cascade; Centennial; Zeus; and Simcoe R , YCR14. Hopsteiner says the ever growing popularity of aroma-heavy beers in the craft market is driving demand for heavy flavored hops.
Cascade, an aromatic, fruity and citrusy variety, makes up 11% of US total hop acreage. However, Hopsteiner also highlights the popularity for one of its newest varieties – Lemondrop – which is another citrus-forward variety suitable for sessionable beers.