Unfavourable weather conditions have impacted the harvest yield of the highly sought after New Zealand hop crop. The New Zealand Hop Industry 2013 Crop Report has reported that the harvest weighed in approximately 30 metric tonne lower than expected, with the two major varieties of hop – Wakatu and Nelson Sauvin – being the worst hit.
The 2013 yield came in at 682,500kg and was comprised of 15 unique New Zealand varieties, 8 traditional varieties and a mix of certified organic varieties.
While the harvest itself took place under ideal conditions, from mid February and until the end of March, the growing season was impacted by the cool spring and dry summer weather patterns.
Doug Donelan, New Zealand Hops Chief Executive, says that while the results were disappointing, the result could have been much worse considering the persistently dry summer weather.
“The conditions throughout the 2012 growing season presented a number of difficulties, most importantly the cool spring which impacted plant development,” he says. “Good levels of rainfall are always welcome and the region got its share during the winter which ensured plenty of water for subsequent irrigation. However when it comes down to it, hops thrive best when they receive regular intervals of warm summer rain.”
Despite the lower than expected yield, the market for specialty and aroma hops has continued to grow, buoyed by the international craft beer movement expansion. While the commodity hop market is still over supplied at present, it is expected demand will balance out with supply in the next few years and given the unique positioning of New Zealand hops, Donelan says that they are in a good position in the market.
“The strong New Zealand Dollar is certainly not doing us any favours, especially in view of the fact that 85% percent of the crop is destined to export markets, primarily the USA, UK and Europe – all of which are hop producers,” he says. “Fortunately New Zealand Hops unique selling proposition gives us a marketable point of difference which is helping us grow our business and market presence.”
According to New Zealand Hops, the 2013 crop is more than 95 per cent sold, with some hop varieties already fully sold.