Growing hops is big business. In 2016, the Yakima Valley hop crop was valued at about $380 million. The crop has a far-reaching economic impact on the local economy—things like farming equipment, fertilizer, jobs and tourism.
The craft brewing industry, which has grown dramatically over recent years, has had an impact on hop farming in a big way. Historically, farmers have endured a fluctuating hop market, a supply-and-demand roller coaster with unstable prices that, at times, sank so low that it was nearly impossible for farms to survive (and many didn’t). But the new and increasing demand created by craft breweries has helped stabilize prices for hop farmers around the world.
While the 2017 harvest is still shaping up, we know this about last year’s hop crop: The Yakima Valley produced nearly 65.5 million pounds of hops, valued at $380 million.
For the first time, in 2015 and 2016, the Yakima Valley produced more hops than any other agricultural area in the world, edging out Germany as the top hop producer. In part, this is because European farmers recently endured a drought that severely impacted the hop crop, but it can also be attributed to an increase in acreage.
Washington farmers planted nearly 37,500 acres of hops, an increase of 16.4 percent from the previous year.
The Yakima Valley produces about 75 percent of the commercial hop crop in the United States, with most of the remainder coming from Oregon and Idaho. Only about 2 percent of the nation’s hops come from outside the Pacific Northwest.
Read more about Yakima Valley, the hops capital of the world, here.