By Sean Ellis
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
POCATELLO – Idaho hop production continues to soar, as Idaho farmers harvested 1,000 more hop acres in 2018 than they did in 2017.
Idaho farmers harvested 8,140 acres of hops in 2018, 14 percent more than the 7,125 acres they harvested in 2017, according to data released Dec. 19 by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Idaho produced 16.2 million pounds of hops in 2018, according to NASS, up 16 percent from 14 million pounds in 2017.
That increase enabled Idaho to solidify its spot as the nation’s No. 2 hop producing state, ahead of Oregon and behind Washington.
Idaho passed Oregon in 2017 to nab the No. 2 spot for the first time and since then has strengthened its hold on that ranking.
According to NASS, Oregon farmers produced 12.9 million pounds of hops in 2018, up slightly from 12.5 million pounds in 2017. Oregon farmers harvested 7,725 acres of hops in 2018, down from 8,216 acres in 2017, but the state’s total production was up because of higher yields.
Idaho passed Oregon in total production but not acres in 2017 but in 2018, Idaho also surpassed Oregon in total acres as well.
Yields in Idaho hop fields averaged 1,995 per acre in 2018 compared with 1,675 per acre in Oregon.
Washington remains the nation’s unchallenged No. 1 hop-producing state with 39,170 harvested acres in 2018 and 78 million pounds of production.
Idaho hop acres have increased 236 percent since 2012, when they totaled 2,423.
From 2015 to 2018, the total value of Idaho hop production has increased 177 percent, from $31 million to $86 million.
In 2016, the crop for the first time jumped into the list of Idaho’s top 10 farm commodities in terms of cash receipts. Hops ranked No. 10 in 2016 and 2017.
NASS will release the data showing Idaho’s top 10 farm commodities for 2018 next October but based on NASS’ 2018 estimate for hop value of production, the crop could move into the No. 9 spot, which was held by dry beans in 2017, and possibly the No. 8 spot, which was held by corn for grain.
Idaho hop industry leaders have said the rapid increase in hop acres is being driven mostly by increased demand from the craft brewing industry for aroma varieties.
Hop production in Idaho has increased so rapidly in recent years that University of Idaho agricultural economists are considering covering hops for the first time in their annual “The Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture” report, which is released in January and estimates the state’s total farm cash receipts and net farm income from the previous year.
That report estimates cash receipts and net farm income for the state’s top eight farm commodities in terms of cash receipts and lumps everything else in under the “other” category. But hops might debut in that report soon.
“Hops hasn’t been on the radar in the past but we may have to take them into consideration,” said UI ag economist Garth Taylor, one of the report’s authors.
According to NASS, total U.S. hop production was up 1 percent to 107 million pounds in 2018. Virtually all of that came from Washington, Idaho and Oregon.
Total U.S. harvested acres in 2018 hit 55,035, up 2 percent from 53,989 in 2017. But total value of U.S. production was down 1 percent to $583 million due to slightly lower yields, which fell from 1,956 in 2017 to 1,943 in 2018, and slightly lower prices.
The average hop price per pound fell 2 percent, from $5.60 in 2017 to $5.46 in 2018.