The main varieties affected are GalaxyTM, Vic SecretTM, EllaTM and TopazTM, although the true impact will not be known until harvest 2016 is completed at the end of March.
On 8 December 2015 two storm cells collided close to HPA’s Rostrevor Hop Gardens in the Ovens Valley. The Gardens experienced 65mm of rain and hail in just 15 minutes accompanied by very strong gusts of wind which significantly damaged the southern half of the farm and resulted in many plants losing their growing tips.
Over the past six weeks HPA has invested thousands of hours in re-training lateral arms to re-establish apical growing tips, essential for progressing proper growth stages in the plants. It is now clear that while some bines recovered quite well, others failed to grow any higher than approximately half their normal height.
HPA will endeavour to honour contracts in full where possible but it is now a realistic expectation that there will be a significant shortfall against expectations.
HPA Managing Director Tim Lord said: “Unfortunately like any agri-business, we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature and this year she came down hard on us. However our team will be working closely with brewers to manage any shortfalls that may occur and discuss substitution options as the need arises.”
On a positive note, the crop at Bushy Park Estates in Tasmania is growing well and is expected to yield an average crop.
In addition, the construction of HPA’s new harvest facility at Rostrevor is progressing as scheduled and the planting of the new hop gardens planned for this season have been completed.
Production expansion plans are on track and the outlook for crop 2017 and beyond remains unchanged.