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Hops showing growth in 2016

— Preliminary projections for the 2016 growing year indicate hop acreage is increasing at a global level for the third straight year, and for the fourth straight year in the United States.

The estimate was released by the Hop Growers of America.

With demand reaching new heights, largely thanks to increased hop usage in craft beer and the U.S. Brewery count reaching an all-time high, hop growers across the globe have responded with more acreage.

“The industry has worked hard to keep up with demand at a frenetic pace and the stock report is a lagging indicator of success in those efforts,” hop grower Jason Perrault said.

A National Agriculture Statistics Service study found hop stocks rose 10 percent this year.

Hops are a prevalent crop in the Sunnyside area. About 70 percent of the nation’s hop production is in the Yakima Valley.

The total amount of hops in U.S. inventory at the time of the report is 131 million pounds. To put this number into perspective, the total 2015 global hop harvest was 190.4 million pounds.

While a small portion of these hops will be available for purchase on the spot market, the majority of this inventory is contracted and in storage until brewers request shipment.

 However, the number also indicates increased infrastructure improvements and services of product storage for brewers.

Yakima Chief-Hopunion’s operations in Sunnyside, for example, is doubling.

The report says smaller production facilities are also expanding, allowing more frequent shipments throughout the year.

As for the hops yet to come with the 2016 harvest – the outlook is a sunny one.

The report projects an increase of 5,400 acres in the Pacific Northwest and 600 acres on smaller farms across the country.

Adding to the optimism is a promising water year in 2016.

Unlike the 2015 drought, irrigation supplies are expected to be at full capacity for growers in the Yakima Valley.

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