Shifting Away From Alpha Variety Hops

Shifting Away From Alpha Variety Hops

Shifting Away From Alpha Variety Hops

I'm Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.

The Yakima Valley is one of the top hop growing regions in the nation and Ann George with the Washington Hop Commission and Hop Growers of America says that while Germany is still the world leader in hop production we're catching up fast.

GEORGE: Acreage wise they've got 37% of the world's acreage, we've got 31%. We expect acreage to increase; there will be a continued shift in varieties in existing plantings, but we also expect a few new acres to come online.

The shift away from alpha variety hops and increased acreage is due largely in part to the explosion of the craft brewery sector.

GEORGE: I think just the continuing shift that our industry is seeing in our variety mix toward the flavor type aroma varieties that the craft industry has an interest in procuring will be the big focus of our growers over the next few years. We've seen a pretty substantial shift in our acreage toward the aroma varieties over the last five years and that's expected to continue. Remember that we're not going to sell 100% of the crop into the craft industry certainly; that we want to make sure that we keep a focus on all sectors of our market and what those future needs will be.

Even with the increased acreage and shift in varieties a shortage of hops may still be on the horizon.

GEORGE: We have quite a bit of demand and can only ramp up the production of these things so fast with available planting materials - rootstock and whatnot that you can get your hands on.

Washington growers are expected to add roughly 4,000 acres this year. According to NASS Washington state produced 79% of the 70.9 million pounds of hops produced in the U.S. in 2014.

That's Washington Ag Today.

I'm Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.

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