Jose Torres starts 53rd season of hop harvest

Jose Torres, who is working his 53rd hop harvest, monitors the vine receiving area, making sure no hops turn to waste.

Photo by Ted Escobar
Jose Torres, who is working his 53rd hop harvest, monitors the vine receiving area, making sure no hops turn to waste.



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Workers atop a mobile hop platform cut the tops of the vines so they fall onto the conveyor that loads them into trailers. The workers below assure the don’t fall to the ground.

When you’ve seen one hop harvest, you’ve seen them all.

Not so, according to Jose Torres of Granger, who started his 53rd hop harvest last week at Carpenter Ranches.

“There have been a lot of changes,” he said Monday while supervising the area that receives hop vines from the field.

It’s a modern system, which takes loads of vines into the picking machines. Back in the day, the work was done mostly by hand.

There was a running chain belt. Workers unloaded vines and tagged them to the chain.

The harvest, which started throughout the Yakima Valley last week, should be one of the biggest on record if not the biggest, according to Hop Growers of America.

Yakima Valley growers are harvesting 2,000 acres more of hops this year than last. On the other hand, the organization predicts the local yield to drop, with production going up slightly.

Yield per acre in 2017 was 2,047 pounds. The prediction for this year is 1,960. Production last year was 1.035 billion pounds. It should be 1.076 billion pounds this year, Hop Growers of America predicts.

“It looks like we have an average crop going,” Yakima Chief Hopunion’s Steve Carpenter said.

Carpenter added that he expects supply to match up with demand.



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