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Tricks of the Trellis: When to Switch Hop Varieties

Hop growers face a tough decision every year: What do we plant? Claire Desmarais, sales and marketing manager for CLS Farms in Washington, explains how growers navigate the tricky supply and demand driven by brewers and drinkers.

Claire Desmarais Jul 15, 2022 - 15 min read

Tricks of the Trellis: When to Switch Hop Varieties Primary Image

Photos: Courtesy CLS Farms

The total number of hop acres planted has increased significantly over the past decade, mostly driven by growth in craft brewing and the planting of aroma varieties. Today, drinkers have access to almost every aroma, from fruity mango and pineapple to more savory flavors of pine and spice.

Another result of that demand has been the rapid increase in new hop varieties from both private and public breeding programs. Today, hop growers can choose from hundreds of varieties to plant.

However, the hop market is facing an inflection point, as growers turn over acreage to previously underplanted public varieties. The ups and downs of the past few years have created an imbalance of supply and demand for certain varieties, despite hop stocks—the inventory held by growers, dealers, and brewers—increasing 6 percent from March 2021 to March 2022.

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