Despite lower Centennial yields, other varieties experience a more average year.
All the Centennial fields in the Valley have been harvested, giving growers and dealers a more accurate look at overall yields and quality. Issues of early bloom – explained in our previous post – forced many growers to harvest Centennial significantly earlier than expected. Juvenile cones mixed with overly mature cones required growers to delicately balance underripe and overripe aromas.
The Yakima Valley serves as the primary growing region for Centennial with over 2,000 acres strung in 2023, according to the USDA Acreage Strung Report. The Willamette Valley follows with 393 acres while Idaho Centennial acreage doesn’t meet the reporting threshold, meaning there’s likely close to zero grown in the Treasure Valley.
This year, Centennial yields were significantly lower in Washington and Oregon. Specifically, we estimate that Washington's yields are down by 17% to 19% compared to 2022, which was already a low-yielding year. This represents nearly a 25% decrease from the long-term average.
Sure, there is discussion surrounding the hop surplus in the market. Acreage seemingly only reduced by 8% this year (Read: Balancing Effort: Hop Acreage Declines in 2023), so a smaller Centennial crop would be helpful for the market, right? It’s not that simple.
Acreage needed to decline to rebalance the market in overplanted aroma varieties. But Centennial has experienced a chronically decreasing acreage base more than other varieties, meaning it’s only now coming back to balance. Or so we thought. A 5% increase in Centennial acreage this year is not enough to cover the difference from lower yields.
However, we have seen that the Moxee and Wenas growing regions experienced average to slightly above-average yields, mitigating the overall industry impact.
In terms of quality, the mixture of cone maturity on the bines caused Centennial to skip some of its early aromas and go straight into mid-maturity aromas. We smelled mostly red fruit like cherry and raspberry coupled with sweet citrus.
Aside from Centennial…
We’ve harvested a number of varieties outside of Centennial, including Zappa®, Citra®, Sabro®, El Dorado®, and Cashmere.
No, not all the fields in those variety groups were harvested, but select fields appeared to develop quicker than others. The El Dorado® field we harvested early exhibited physical maturity indicators and aromas of pineapple and soft citrus. El Dorado®’s typical harvest window falls closer to the third week of September.
Other varieties like Cascade surprisingly have lagged in development, though it appears to be moving towards harvest-ready aromas. We’re anticipating average quality and yields from other variety groups.
Overall, despite issues with early bloom and slightly lower yields, we feel good about the quality of Centennial and look forward to harvesting the rest of the varieties.
Have questions? Reach out to Claire Desmarais at [email protected].