Yakima Chief Ranches is proud to present our Harvest Report for 2019. The demand for American hops is at an all-time high, and it is imperative that we strive to meet the dynamic needs of our farming and brewing partners. By creating, growing and protecting the value of our industry-leading hop brands, YCR continues to forge a new normal in the hop industry, where mutual success is translated into generational sustainability.
Each hop growing season in the Pacific Northwest seems to offer new opportunities and challenges, and 2019 was no exception. YCR growers planted nearly 2,500 acres of baby hops, and with the growing season starting over a month behind, there was a tremendous amount of work to do in a short amount of time. Our region experienced an unusually cool spring, which, coupled with the late winter, was not ideal for baby production. The mature hops outperformed average yields, which led to a relatively average production year overall. Multiple heavy wind and rainstorms caused several hop yards to collapse and lose production this year, especially impacting Mosaic®. Despite the baby hop production and weather challenges, contracts were filled on all conventional YCR brands this year. Organic production, however, saw more yield challenges.
Overall, several brands including Ahtanum®, Simcoe® and Sabro™ exceeded production expectations. From a hop quality standpoint, pest pressure was low and aromatic impression was extremely high. For the first time in several years, seed content increased in the majority of public and proprietary hop brands. The cause of the high seed content is not fully known, but likely relates to an extended burr season from a cool spring. High seed content from 2019 will mean that the growers and YCR staff will be working overtime in 2020 to ensure that males are rogued, marked and removed so the problem does not continue in the coming years.
YCR works with growers to ensure best management practices are applied to each brand. This includes:
Even the highest quality crop can be compromised with faulty harvest and kilning practices. YCR requires specific standards on how our brands are harvested to ensure a consistent, high-quality product.