This year’s harvest of Galaxy hops fell short of expected yields for Hop Products Australia, meaning only brewers who have contracts in place can be assured of supply.
Growing conditions throughout most of the season appeared favourable and as harvest commenced in early March, HPA’s expectations were of a strong yield, its 2017 Crop Report says.
However, cool and humid conditions took a toll on the mid to late season varieties at Rostrevor Hop Gardens in Victoria, where they did not mature as expected.
“Cone weights were significantly down against average and as such the HPA crop in Victoria came in 18 per cent under expectation, with the most severely impacted variety unfortunately being Galaxy,” HPA said.
The yield at Bushy Park in Tasmania also fell marginally short (four per cent) of expectations. Cascade, Enigma and Galaxy all yielded above budget, but the farm’s other six varieties came in short.
“Importantly, regardless of the seasonal conditions, we are able to cover all our contracts to supply. This includes the Galaxy result, even though the Galaxy harvest was under expectations,” commented HPA sales and marketing manager Owen Johnston.
Spot sales shortage
However, brewers who rely on spot sales of Galaxy may be disappointed, Johnston told Radio Brews News.
He said this once again highlights the importance for brewers to have contracts in place, or at least have an open dialogue with their hop suppliers.
“The biggest risk for us as farmer and merchandiser of the finished hop product is that if we don’t know that your demand is out there… we can’t take steps to cater for it… we’re flying blind,” Johnston said.
He said even small breweries that can only commit to five kilogram shipments can enter into contracts with HPA.
“I’ve got very small sales out quite a few years with many different small operations here in Australia,” he said.
“It gives us clarity, certainty and it gives us a reason to stay in touch and frankly, that’s the best way to make sure that our performances of supply match with your needs as a buyer.”
Emerging varieties strong
Johnston said the spot market from the 2017 crop should however be quite healthy for other hops that came in over budget: Vic Secret, Enigma and Ella.
“That’s really quite pleasing for us as we try to, not take the focus off Galaxy, but certainly, diversify our offering in step with our mission to provide choice and variety to brewers,” he said.
Overall, the 2017 crop yield was up 43 per cent, driven by seasonal advantages and an increase of 88 hectares of new hop gardens.
However, Johnston acknowledged this increase was off the low base of 2016, when the yield was substantially impacted by weather events.
Episode 129 of Radio Brews News is available to download here.