Idaho seeks to rank second in national production of hops

While most of us have enjoyed an ice cold brew, few know about how Idaho's booming hops industry is quenching their thirst.

A quick trip to the Parma area and you will find yourself in a hop-tastic wonderland, were vines climb high for as far as the eye can see.

"Hops are like the spice just like basil, oregano, cilantro and red pepper flakes. All impart different flavors and characteristics to food. Hops basically do the same for beer," explained Diane Gooding, Vice President at Gooding Farms.

Hops are planted in late winter and then a couple of months later the hops plant spring to life.

They then train the vines by hanging twine, which the vine then climbs.

With plenty of water all summer the vines will grow hops. Then in late summer early fall it's hop harvest season the busiest time of the entire year for hop farmers.

Diana and Michelle Gooding know the hops business well, after all they are 6th generation farmers.

"We have a total of 850 acres to harvest," said Michelle.

The woman ancestors began growing hops back in the 1880's.

Idaho's agricultural landscape happens to be just about perfect for cultivating hops.

Idaho ranks third in national production coming in right behind Washington and Oregon. While acreage increased for all three states, Idaho showed the largest jump with a 27 percent increase.

"I think it's brought a lot to the Idaho economy," said Michelle. 

In Southern Idaho alone you can find 5,000 acres of hops which is more than ever before.

"That's a pretty big jump. Hopefully this year we will surpass Oregon in poundage," said Michelle. "They still have more acres planted but because of our varieties we grow here we tend to get higher yields."

At Gooding Farms during hop harvest they can pick 40,000 of hops in a single day.

"I think Idaho should be very proud of the farmers and the handwork that everyone puts in," said Michelle. 

Here the hops are cut and loaded into a truck and taken back to a facility. A harvester strips the vine and then they cleaned and sorted before they are dried and cooled.

"It's a great conversation starter. People are like ohh you grow potatoes, no I grow hops," laughed Michelle. 
Those hops are then shipped around the country and around the world.

So no matter what your frosty beverage of choice is, be it an ale or lager, there is a good chance there are Idaho hops in that beer.
 

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