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COVID-19 impacts hop production

PARMA—Idaho Hop growers are working to get the 2020 crop up and going despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

 It’s too early to assess the full impact on craft beer production but bars and brewery sales have suddenly dried up, that's a flat 20- percent of all beer sales nationwide. 

For the craft beer segment of the market, the loss cuts deep and will impact Canyon County hop growers. 

The US Brewers Association estimates that more than 40 percent of all craft beer sales come from on-site sales. Before th the closures of brewpubs and bars, more than 2.5 million gallons of beer per-week were sold in craft breweries across the nation. And a lot of the hops in the beer come from Canyon County. 

On the bright side, the Idaho hop industry is thriving with hop production climbing for the eighth straight year. Idaho’s hop production totaled a record 1.7 million pounds.

“But say we grow 1.7 million pounds,” said Michelle Gooding of Gooding Farms in Parma. “You got 1.7 pounds of hops per barrel, a million gallons, you got a lot!”

And that’s up 5-percent from the previous year and 21-percent from the 1.4 million pounds produced in 2017.

Almost all of the nation’s hop production comes from Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Idaho hop acreage totaled a record 8,400 acres in 2019. Statewide yields averaged 2,034 pounds per acre, up from 1,995 pounds per acre in 2018.

Idaho producers are rolling full speed ahead working for the time when pandemic isolation ends and a thirsty nation returns to normal.