Heat Making it Tough for Hop Farmers?

August 2nd, 2009 · No Comments · General Beer News

While those of us over here in Seattle were sweating in our living rooms last week, hop farmers out in Yakima were trying to make sure the extreme heat doesn’t affect this year’s hop harvest. Check out this article from this weekend in the Yakima Herald that describes the measures that hop growers are resorting to in order to keep the hops flowing into your glass. Here is an excerpt:

Meanwhile, growers say they are using every bit of water they have to keep apples and hops cool, a process that’s usually performed when temperatures rise above 85 degrees.

Some growers are worried that the heat will hinder yields come harvest.

“We’ll probably not have quite as much tonnage because of that,” said Joe Champoux, who grows hops outside Toppenish. “But that’s Mother Nature and we’ll just have to work with her.”

He said he hasn’t seen a hot spell like this in about a decade and has been watering about 12 hours a day just to keep his hops cool.

But, while some varieties will yield less this year because of the heat, Ann George of the Washington Hop Commission explains that overall production in the state will likely yield more than last year:

Although tonnage is expected to be down in some hop varieties this year because of the heat, overall production in the state most likely will exceed last year’s, said Ann George with the Washington Hop Commission.

“There were some 8,000 acres of baby hops that were planted and harvested in 2008, which had yields averaging about 50 percent of their mature potential,” she wrote in an e-mail. “These hops will produce a full crop in 2009.”

A big thanks goes out to all of those wonderful hop farmers that make it possible for us to enjoy our favorite beers! Since moving here four years ago, one of my favorite trips was the WABL bus tour a couple of years back that took us out to Yakima to tour Hop Union and a local hop farm….my highlight of that trip was doing a “hop angel” in a huge pile of hops (see picture at this link; I’ve got to figure out where I have that photo on my computer…). If you ever have a chance to head out to Yakima to see the hop harvest, I suggest you do so.

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