U.S. hop fields hit record acreage with Washington leading growth

YAKIMA, Wash.  — U.S. hop acreage is forecast at a record 53,282 acres this year, up 4 percent over last year, with new acreage and plantings entering full production.

The Capital Press reports that the 2018 forecast for Washington is 39,273 acres, which is 71 percent of total U.S. acreage, according to a July 2 report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Idaho is projected at 8,217 acres, or 15 percent of the total, and Oregon is projected at 7,849 acres, or 14 percent. Idaho shows the largest increase in acreage, up 1,224 acres, or 17.5 percent.

Washington state is up 835 acres, or 2 percent, and Oregon is unchanged.

Mike Gooding, president of Gooding Farms north of Wilder, Idaho, and vice chairman of the Idaho Hop Growers Commission, said the state's additional acreage this year primarily consists of hops contracted two years ago that are finally being established.

"A lot of times, growers are not able to establish all acres in one season," Gooding said. "And we have a couple of new growers in the area. They established part of their acreage last year and part this year."

Expansion of small craft breweries fueled an increase in aroma hop varieties for several years but that's slowed as the rate of craft brewery growth has slowed and larger brewers have lost market share to other beverages.