This will be the first of a series of harvest updates that we’ll release over the next six weeks.
As many have likely seen on Instagram and other social media websites, harvest has begun in the Yakima Valley. However, the majority of those who began harvesting did so nearly ten to fourteen days earlier than what’s normally expected.
It’s no secret that many Centennial fields have experienced split bloom, which is when multiple reproductive cycles occur at different times. This can lead to a mixture of mature and juvenile cones, making the decision of when to harvest difficult due to the varying aromas.
Growers are extremely focused on preserving aroma quality, which is why we’re seeing so many growers pick a few fields and then stop for ten to twelve days. The decision of when to harvest a field remains crucial, especially in a year with this much variability.
Despite the namesake, not all Centennial bines are evenly split between mature and juvenile cones, causing that variability. Some fields appear to have taken the brunt of the anomaly while others appear normal. But it’s clear that the problem is ubiquitous throughout the Yakima Valley and is not more present in one area than another.
Early bloom is likely a result of varying weather patterns experienced in the spring and early summer. Unusually cold temperatures in April, an influx of heat in May, and a cooler June likely led to these issues.
While we do see a lot of fields with normal bloom patterns, we estimate that the overall Centennial crop in Yakima will be down 20%.
Centennial as a whole saw a 5% increase in acreage overall, according to the USDA Hop Acreage Report released in June.
CLS Farms has been growing Centennial for over 20 years, so we’ve developed farming techniques to help mitigate these issues in unusual years. We will have a much better idea of overall yields and aroma quality as we begin harvesting over the next ten days. The situation is developing and it’s often unclear to growers the full extent until the crop is harvested.
Weather & Other Varieties
Following the cooler June, the Yakima Valley had a much more mild July and August, nearly perfect weather for the growing season. Despite a heat bubble the last few days, the hops appear to be withstanding it well. Moderate temperatures in the mid-80s are expected to follow.
Aside from Centennial, other varieties are experiencing a relatively average year. There are a few maturing slightly earlier, but they are on a much more normal pattern overall. You may see some growers stop and start but that will vary farm-to-farm.
Varieties like El Dorado®, CTZ, YQH-1320, and Vista look strong this year in terms of aroma and yield quality.
We’re excited to begin harvest in the next week and look forward to visiting with brewers in the Yakima Valley for the 2023 crop year! Stay tuned for the next harvest update in a few weeks.
Claire Desmarais is the sales and marketing manager for CLS Farms. If you have questions, reach out to her at [email protected].