September 2020 Harvest Update
It’s Labor Day for most of the nation. For those of us with hops in our blood, we are at the mercy of a rapidly ripening hop crop. We salute all of our employees on the farms as well as our handling crews for their dedication in getting the crop harvested and in cold storage as soon as possible to preserve quality so that our brewery customers can make great beer.
Last week was a hot one for most of the Pacific Northwest and the elevated temperatures created conditions for some mite pressures building in some areas. We expect cooler temperatures early this week and a gradual return to more normal temperatures through the end of the week. The chance of rain remains minimal for the next few days in all areas reducing the chance of any harvest schedule interruption.
The Oregon crop continues to look good from a quality standpoint and most growers are happy with their yields. Simcoe® harvest is complete and Citra® harvest is in full swing. With few exceptions, seed content trends are lower than last year and alphas seem to be tracking at or above average on the hops that have been harvested so far. Cascades and Centennials are in the barn and quality is consistent and yields are slightly above average on most farms.
In Idaho, most growers have been disappointed in Simcoe® yields. Mite pressure in some areas has caused decisions to pick Chinook a bit earlier than normal, but yields have been average. Idaho 7® and Sabro® seem to be picking average to slightly above average and quality is good. Most growers are moving into Citra® and are hopeful for good yields and good quality. Mosaic® overall looks spotty but harvest won’t begin in earnest until later this week and into next. The CTZ crop looks mixed.
There was variability in the Washington Cascade crop, but most growers have reported yields down from last year. The Washington Centennial harvest is complete and yields appear to be average with good quality. Like Idaho, Simcoe® yields are off from previous years, but quality is excellent. Growers are hopeful for a good Citra® crop although some are concerned about cone size and weight. Alpha acid levels are normal with the exception of Sabro® which appears slightly lower than average, probably due to a large percentage of the crop in the baby year of production.
Overall we are nearing the halfway point of the 2020 harvest. The Oregon crop, so far, is above average in general, while Washington and Idaho appear to be off slightly. Despite some mite pressure in some locations, quality is good and there have been no weather interruptions. Growers continue to monitor the health of their employees to reduce the threat of COVID-19 issues with good success. Labor is tight with apple harvest in full swing, but labor availability is not an issue.
We will pass on more harvest information as we receive it. We will have a virtual harvest report on Monday morning with a written report posted within 24 hours.
UPDATE – 10 PM PST on September 7, 2020
A Labor Day windstorm hit the Yakima Valley this afternoon creating nearly impossible harvest conditions. Smoke from fires to the north and blowing dust created low visibility and many farms have shut down harvest operations temporarily. There are widespread reports of hop vines down in hop yards up and down the Yakima Valley. Most of the vines can be salvaged because they are the very close to maturity. Growers will incur extra costs if labor is available to either harvest the down vines or hoist up fallen vines. There are expectations for a slightly below average crop size to be further diminished by the wind damage.