Wilder--Once deserted Hop fields have sprung back to life in Canyon County. Hop production for Idaho, Oregon, and Washington last year totaled 57.7 million pounds, up 9 percent from the previous years crop of 52.9 million pounds.
Hop is a specialty crop in which female flowers, or cones, are used as a vital ingredient in beer production. Lupulin glands on the hop cones contain soft resins (a and b acids) essential oils that impart bitterness, flavor, aroma, foam (head) characteristics, and preservative qualities to beer. The total amount and percentage composition of these compounds varies with variety and growing conditions. Because the brewing industry depends on hops to provide distinctive and proprietary characteristics to beer, a stable supply of high quality hops is a high priority.
Idaho ranks third in U.S. hop production accounting for 8% to 10% of the U.S., and 2% of the world hop production. Idaho hop production from 1993 to 1996 averaged 1,388 pounds per acre on 3,977 acres. Total production for that period averaged 5,521,210 million pounds with an on-farm value of $8,889,148 million dollars, annually. In 1998, production dropped well below that average to 4,529,000 pounds on 3,909 acres with a total farm-gate value of $6,838,394.
Over 90% of the crop is contracted at the time of harvest. Some contracts prohibit the use of certain pesticides on the contracted crop, in order to meet specific brewing industry requirements or to comply with the import tolerance requirements of importing countries. In a given year 40% to 60% of the crop is exported to overseas markets.