Drought conditions and heat have created some challenges for hop growers in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) this growing season. A warm, dry winter in Washington State has resulted in extremely low snowpack in the mountains, which normally provides much needed irrigation water late in the growing season. The Wapato Irrigation District, which encompasses most of the Yakima Reservation area, has implemented a rolling rationing system, while the Roza Irrigation District mandated a lengthy shutdown early in the season so that water will be available through most of the hop growing season.
As a result of the water situation and unseasonable heat in late June, there are signs of stress in some hops, most notably in the Wapato Irrigation District. In general, growers are making strong efforts to manage the situation by making adjustments, such as using ground water to supplement irrigation district water. The acreage shift to early maturing aroma varieties is also beneficial. In some cases, acreage was left idle in the spring on individual ranches so that water could be used on higher demand hop acreage.
In Washington, Cascade hops are exhibiting a wide range of variability due to weather and water conditions. In Oregon and Idaho, the Cascade crop has benefited from the warm summer and looks solid. As with most hop varieties, it is anticipated contracts will be filled, with limited spot quantities.
Centennial yields are projected to be low in many areas of Washington due to the heat and water conditions. The Oregon Centennial crop looks slightly improved over the past two years. Overall, supply is anticipated to be tight.
Simcoe®, Mosaic®, and Citra® are being grown in all three PNW growing areas, thereby reducing the risk of localized weather events that could adversely affect supply. More than 3,000 acres of babies were planted to meet demand this past season. We anticipate full delivery on all brewery contracts with some spot availability.
The warmer than normal weather has adversely affected yields on some of the early Oregon varieties such as Golding, Sterling, and Fuggle. It is theorized that the warm winter created a higher percentage of “sleeper” plants in some of these varieties, or plants that experience a lack of growth in the spring.
The Oregon Nugget crop looks good at this point. Overall, the Washington alpha hops look average, while the Idaho alpha hops look exceptional as they have benefitted from a good water supply this summer.
Significant acreage of Amarillo® hops were planted this spring. The northern Idaho crop looks solid. Some of the established acreage in the Wapato District is showing some signs of heat and water stress, especially on lighter soils which might limit spot availability.
All other varieties look on par at this point. There are still a four full weeks until hop harvest starts in earnest and a lot can happen, both positively and negatively. With hops, Mother Nature always seems to have the last word.
*Simcoe® YCR 14 cv., Mosaic HBC 369 cv., and Citra® YCR 394 cv. are registered trademarks of Select Botanicals Group, LLC (Brand YCR) and/or Hop Breeding Company LLC (Brand HBC).