Galaxy booms as HPA releases 2020 hop harvest report

Busy Park Estate's historic Text Kiln

Busy Park Estate’s historic Text Kiln showing new plantings.

The Australian hop harvest is done and dusted for 2020 and Australia’s largest hop grower has recorded a mixed year with Galaxy up, but other varieties down.

In its annual crop report, Hop Products Australia said production increased by 81 metric tonnes to 1,554 metric tonnes – a rise of 5.5 per cent over last year. This includes an increase of almost 13 per cent for its star Galaxy. Topaz also saw a significant bump, with an increase of 24 per cent over the 2019 harvest.

However, varieties including Vic Secret, Ella and Enigma saw declines in production of 9.7, 13.8 and 5.6 per cent respectively.

Despite the decreases in those varieties, HPA sales and marketing Manager Owen Johnston told Radio Brews News the grower would be able to fulfill all of its contracts.

“One of the ways in which we navigate negative year-on-year [growth] is that we’ll only contract up to 85% of what we think that year’s production is going to be,” he explained.

“And what you’ll see running down the list there, Ella got pretty close to 15 per cent down but it didn’t get there, and for me this is a really important point because our contracts are our promise.

“We were able to fill every contract that we hold this year, and for me both personally and professionally that’s a really important point to make.”

Johnston said that while contracts will be met, supply will be tight on some varieties in the market.

“We’re going to have very small short-term availability for some of these hops,” he said. “And so inherently some people are going to miss out.”

Johnston noted the decrease in these varieties this hop harvest was due to growing conditions rather than reductions in acreage.

“We are not pulling our backing from these varieties that are showing as coming in under budget. We’re under last year’s production,” he explained.

“Vic Secret plays a really significant role in our future and we’re backing that variety with expanded quantities, new land, and the fact that it’s 9.7% down year on year is not in any way an indication that we’re taking wind out of its sails.

“It is simply a seasonal effect, and we need to acknowledge that that is the reality of farming.”

Listen to the full discussion about the 2020 hop report with HPA Sales & Marketing Manager Owen Johnston on our BreweryPro deep dive. Full Transcript here.

Johnston told the Radio Brews News BreweryPro podcast that one thing the report couldn’t capture is the impact the 2020 hops will have on beer.

“While yield numbers are up and down and whatnot, what I can say is that on the main we have some outstanding alphas and oils and I, in my crystal ball, see some really good flavour outcomes in beer from the outcomes of our 2020 crop, and I’m really looking forward to getting that out there and getting that in peoples’ hands.”

The hop harvest crop report noted that HPA’s three farms – Bushy Park Estates, Rostrevor Hop Gardens and Buffalo River Valley – endured a dry, cold and windy spring.

“This slightly delayed growth and lateral development in some of the more exposed gardens. Fortunately, the conditions improved towards the tail end of the growing season, which helped the crop mature well in the lead up to harvest.”

During the month-long harvest season, HPA harvested 631 hectares across its three farms.

Over the past 12 months HPA completed the first phase of a $35 million expansion that aims to increase its total production to 2,400 metric tonnes by 2024. This involved planting 150 new hectares and two new processing facilities. Phase two will involve an additional 150 hectares.

Read the 2020 harvest report.

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