POCATELLO — Hop production in Idaho rose for the eighth straight year in 2019, and production of the bitter beer ingredient set records again both at the state level and nationally.
U.S. farmers produced a record 112 million pounds of hops in 2019, up from 107 million pounds during 2018 and 106 million pounds in 2017, according to estimates by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
In Idaho, hop production totaled a record 17 million pounds in 2019, up 5 percent from 16.2 million pounds in 2018 and 21 percent more than the 14 million pounds produced in 2017.
The combined harvested hop acreage in the United States totaled a record 56,544 acres in 2019, a record. All but a minimal amount of the nation’s hop production comes from Washington, Idaho and Oregon.
Idaho hop acreage totaled a record 8,358 in 2019, up from 8,140 acres in 2018. Statewide yields averaged 2,034 pounds per acre, up from 1,995 in 2018.
NASS put the total value of Idaho’s 2019 hop crop at $89 million.
Idaho hop acres have risen sharply since 2011, when 2,265 acres of the crop were harvested. That number rose to 2,596 in 2012 and then 3,356 in 2013, 3,743 in 2014, 4,863 in 2015, 5,648 in 2016, 7,125 in 2017, 8,140 in 2018 and 8,358 in 2019.
Idaho hop producers said they were a little bit surprised that hop acreage and production continued to increase in 2019, both in Idaho and nationwide.
“It surprises me a little bit because the market has softened considerably for some varieties, especially the public varieties,” said Idaho hop producer Mike Gooding.
Hop producer Brock Obendorf, chairman of the Idaho Hop Commission, agreed, and both he and Gooding expect the growth in hop acreage to begin to slow.
Obendorf noted that while Idaho’s hop acreage continues to increase, the growth rate has slowed.
“The percentage of growth has come way down,” he said. “For the past five to seven years, it’s been a healthy industry and I think it’s going to continue to be a healthy industry, but I think we’re going to see the pipeline get full and we’re going to see a lot less growth.”
“It’s going to continue to be a solid market but I definitely think it’s going to slow down a little bit,” Gooding said. “It would really surprise me if (production) goes up significantly (in 2020).”
Idaho passed Oregon in 2016 to become the No. 2 state in the nation for hop production and the Gem State passed Oregon in 2017 in hop acreage as well. Since then, the gap between No. 2 and No. 3 has only widened, in both acreage and production.
While hop acres and total production in Idaho has risen significantly in recent years, hop acreage in Oregon has decreased. According to NASS, Oregon farmers produced 13 million pounds of hops on 7,306 acres in 2019. Oregon’s hop acreage in 2019 declined from 7,725 in 2018 and 8,216 in 2017.
Washington leads the nation in hop production, with 82 million pounds produced from 40,880 acres in 2019.
U.S. hop production has soared as well since 2012. Since then, hop acreage in the country has swelled from 29,683 acres to 56,544 acres.
The increase in U.S. hop acres has been driven by the nation’s fast-growing craft brewing industry.
While the growth in the U.S. craft brewing industry has slowed recently, other nations are seeing rapid growth in that industry and U.S. hop exports are healthy as a result, Gooding said.
The large increase in Idaho hop acreage in recent years has resulted in hops becoming one of the state’s most valuable crops. Until very recently, hops ranked well outside the top 10 Idaho farm commodities in terms of total farm cash receipts.
Based on the NASS estimate that values Idaho’s 2019 hop crop at $89 million, hops is likely to rank No. 8 in 2019 on the list of Idaho’s most valuable farm commodities.
Since 2015, the value of Idaho hop production has increased from $31 million to $89 million.