New Zealand Hops is hopeful the damage inflicted by a freak hailstorm last week will not leave brewers empty-handed this year.
A Boxing Day hailstorm shredded the leaves off the bine on a number of farms in the Nelson area meaning the hops had no chance to keep growing and produce flowers.
NZ Hops chief executive Craig Orr says his organisation is still working out how the damage will affect the forecast crop yield but remains hopeful that brewers will get the bulk of what they need in 2021.
“It will be another fortnight before we can determine our forecast for total crop yield,” Orr told Brews News.
“While we’re yet to get a full picture on what production will look like it seems as if where we had surplus last year, this year there will be no surplus.”
The hardest hit varieties were Riwaka and Nelson Sauvin, which Orr said had been “heavily hammered”.
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NZ Hops is a co-operative of 28 growers and a total of five growers, and six farms, were hit by the hailstorm, which produced hailstones the size of large grapes.
“The fact that it was contained in that one area around Moutere has helped. Had it occurred in Tapawera it would have been a different story.”
One of the reasons NZ Hops can’t fully assess the total loss yet is because they don’t know how some of the damaged bines might recover from the pruning handed out by nature.
“It’s definitely a war zone in some parts and the worst damaged plants will taken out and burnt but one of the keys for us is to see how the laterals on remaining varieties will respond under new growth conditions – if we get good weather like we’re having this week and there’s no other adverse events they might come back.”
Brent McGlashen of Mac Hops said his family farm was one of the hardest hit by the storm.
“It’s the worst hailstorm this area has ever seen,” he told Stuff.co.nz. “The hail’s topped them. It’s short back and sides.”
“It’s a real shame because New Zealand hops and this community of growers is getting real traction in the international industry. We need as many hops as possible going into the international market.
“We’re just happy it wasn’t the whole area that got hit, if it was all out in Tapawera as well that would be very bad for the New Zealand brand.”