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Idaho hop farm 'optimistic' for harvest season despite triple-digit heatwave

hop fields .jpg
Posted at 11:07 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 08:29:28-04

PARMA, Idaho — In late June, the Treasure Valley was hit by a windstorm, causing trees and branches to topple. The winds also tore the roof of one of Gooding Farm’s shops in Parma.

Diane Gooding, Vice President of Operations for the farm, says the wind also caused some hop plants to developed windburn, turning the edges brown or burnt.

“It’s been a challenging year. The weather has been topsy-turvy. I think everybody knows we had some cool down in late May, kind of slow things down, and in June, it just really heated up pretty fast and the plants get a little confused by that oftentimes,” Gooding said.

The hop cones aren’t quite blooming yet, but Gooding remains hopeful for their harvest season.

“Overall, the plants are maintaining and we’re optimistic for an average harvest, better than negative,” she said.

In the past week, Idaho has been hit by extreme heat which can be concerning for the farm.

Gooding said if temperatures are in the 105 to 110 range, it can cause the hop perennial vines to drop their flowers.

“When we are seeing many days in a row over triple-digits, they definitely shut down during the day. They go into more of a mode of just trying to maintain their integrity rather than being vegetated and have a heavy growth,” Gooding said.

There are some steps the farm takes to limit the impact.

“We are doing fuller feeding, giving them extra vitamins and few little odds and ends to try to help them stay balanced and just keep the nutrition and the water flowing through the plant, and as well as the water management, making sure the drip is not too much, not too little,” Gooding said.

The US Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) paints a positive picture for hop acreage in 2021.

In a recent report, it forecast that between Washington, Oregon and Idaho, hop acreage strung for harvest will be a total of 60,735 acres, marking a four percent increase from the previous year. Last year's total hit 58,641 acres. NASS reports Idaho accounts for 16 percent total of hop acreage in the U.S. this year.

Gooding said their harvest begins in late August, and they're paying close attention to the heat and drought conditions.

“Thankfully here the Boise Project is doing a great job of getting us maximum water delivery. We did have a good amount of carry-over from last year prior. We are cautiously optimistic we will be okay, but if they turn the water off and we aren’t able to irrigate the hops, you have anywhere between two and seven days before the plant wilts and dries on us, and at that point, you got to get in quick and try to get them off,” Gooding said.