image by Luigi FDV

Finally some fantastic news. There are reports coming out of Yakima Washington — the country’s largest hop-producing state– today that hop production is back up – way up!

Growers are feverishly reconditioning yards and adding new land at an unheard-of pace. Growers are receiving multiple-year contracts with prices front-loaded to help them shoulder the estimated $6,000-per-acre cost to plant yards and also upgrade equipment.

The report from the Yakima Herald-Republic goes on to explain that an extra 2,000 acres of hops were planted at the end of 2007, which an additional 5,000-8,000 acres expected to be planted this year, which would mean a 25% jump in acreage.

It’s the obvious result of supply and demand — especially with a world-wide shortage — and most in the industry believe the high hops prices are temporary only until supply catches up with demand again. As Ann George, administrator of the Washington Hop Commission, explains,

“All estimates are this will be a short-term run-up. The big challenge is to pinpoint what acreage is necessary to supply demand without overshooting demand,” George said.

The great news is that this is only just the U.S. share (and just one state, at that); if the numbers are at all similar around the globe, it should only be a matter of time until things are back to normal. I’ll drink to that!

[tags]beer, hops, hop shortage, Washington[/tags]



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