Steve Carpenter

Field Report Transcription

"I am sure most of you have heard by now that we have a heat wave in the Pacific Northwest. We know many of you have called in and had questions about what that means for the hop crop in 2021. We thought we would bring you out here in the middle of a hop field, and give you update as to what is going on and maybe give you our thoughts on what this might mean for our crop this year. The heat wave really hit five days ago, that’s when we experienced our first 100-degree Fahrenheit weather. That has gradually increased. We hope things peaked yesterday. We had about 115 degrees in most of the hop growing areas of the Yakima Valley. We are expected to be down in that 100 to that 112 range today. Then we should have five more days of 100 degree plus weather. It should be a significant stretch of about 10 days of 100 degrees plus. In front of that 100-degree weather, we had about five days of about 95-99 degrees. We expect after Monday another five days of that type of weather. So, more or less a three-week period where we will experience 95 degrees. These are atypical temperatures, 110, 112, 115, that we have experienced the last couple days.

One of the things that heat does to the hop plant, is in the leaves, they have specialized cells called stomata that actually open up and close that allow for the free flow of essential gasses needed to fuel photosynthesis. They let C02 in and then they let oxygen out. When we get hot and dry like this, those stomata close up. Transpiration really stops for a period of time and it’s the plant’s internal mechanism for conserving water and they literally shut down for a period of time. What we have seen in the last couple days is those nighttime temperatures remain in the 70s. I was up at 5:00 am this morning and checked the thermometer and it was still 78 degrees out. So that doesn’t really give that plant a chance to recover like they normally do when temperatures are in the mid-50s to lower 60s, so that’s one issue.

Now this particular yard is a Cascade yard, and it has plenty of moisture, good shading down below the roots, and it is all irrigated with drip irrigation, so this particular yard where moisture is available, there shouldn’t be any significant issues. The issue will be with late trained hops that don’t have the vegetative matter that this yard might have, and babies. Again, that baby plant planted here in the valley typically at the end of February, first part of March and it just doesn’t have all of that protection from the sun that these mature plants do. So, we will be monitoring fairly closely that during the growing season. And we will keep you updated on the effect on the baby hops.

Now it is not atypical to have 100-degree temperatures in hop yards but typically that will come later on in the season. We will see a stretch of 100-degree temperatures in late July, early August and at that time we have much more canopy and shading for the leaves. That plant is able to continue the respiration process and continue to grow. The other significant thing about having this temperature at this time of the year is we are starting into bloom. You can see in this Cascade yard where are some signs of early bloom starting, you want to see that plant healthy; you want to keep plenty of moisture. You really don’t need those high temperatures because sometimes you will see you will see that bloom get burned off by higher temperatures. We want that little bloom to develop into a hop cone which will end up in somebody’s brew kettle in a different part of the world of help them make good, flavorful beer. We are out here because we’re a company that believes in transparency, we want to keep people informed. We thought an easy way to do that is to put this video together so everyone has a chance to see it and get the information at the same time. We are not ready to panic yet. We certainly design our procurement systems to make sure there are enough hops to cover our contracts every year. If you are contracted, there is no reason to panic.

What we’ll do is continue to keep you informed. We like the sunshine, we like warm temperatures, we just don’t like the 115-degree stuff that we have been getting. That breeze coming through sure feels good, even though it’s almost 8:30 in the morning. We will keep you up to date on any developments that happen. Pretty soon we will put together our first crop forecast. We like to do that around the time of bloom which will be the first or second week of July. We’ll put that together for you, incorporate all of our observations, and keep you updated on the situation here in the Pacific Northwest."