2016 Harvest info

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The 2016 New Zealand Hop Harvest was completed in early April having started in mid-February.

By Doug Donelan

The New Zealand Hop Industry production volume for 2016 was 794,017 kilograms comprising 16 unique New Zealand varieties and 8 northern types with a mix of these totalling 25,220 kilograms produced as certified organics. (Table #1). Harvesting commenced in mid-February with the northern varieties, Golding and Fuggle followed by the early maturing New Zealand variety Pacifica. Hop grower’s harvest several varieties throughout the season and plantings are such that picking can be scheduled as the individual varieties reach maturity within specific harvest windows. The weather conditions during the harvest were for the most part ideal, although some severe winds and torrential rains did occur mid-way with detrimental effects on mid-season varieties in some regions. A garden was brought down under the weight of the drenched bines, compounded further by a battering of gale force winds. In most areas string breakages created issues with plants needing to be re-fixed to the wire work.

The growing season was a mix of weather conditions and events with early indications supporting the El Niño predictions of severe dry spells and drought conditions throughout the summer months. Fortunately the summer brought with it generous sunshine hours well timed and good levels of rainfall which set the plants up for the run into autumn. The summer did not surrender a single day during February and the growing conditions were text book well into harvest. Unfortunately though, a severe weather event driven by a tropical depression mid-season brought with it torrential rain that delivered high volumes of water. This damaged plants and gardens, creating losses and halted picking operations. When the sun reappeared it brought several days of extreme heat accompanied by plunging overnight temperatures which hastened plant maturity rates requiring growers to step up the pace to bring the remainder of the crop in.

With Easter and the end of harvest approaching the tropical weather patterns still hadn’t finished and another major storm event, producing over two hundred millimetres of rain overnight, forced the breaching of river banks which caused severe flooding throughout the Motueka and Riwaka townships. Harvesting was halted while growers waited for the water to subside, get machinery back into the gardens and restart picking operations to finish the harvest. By early April the harvesting had ended with 6,405 bales (an increase of 457 on the 2015 harvest) received into the New Zealand Hops Limited cold storage and processing facility in Appleby.

Yield / Alpha Performance:

  • In general terms yield performance could be said to be above average across nearly all varieties with some very good results being seen in early varieties such as Cascade and Motueka. The overall quality of hops seen across the district was high with the Wakatu variety in particular enjoying the excellent growing conditions.
  • Shortfalls occurred in the Nelson Sauvin, Riwaka and Green Bullet varieties which were impacted either by unfavourable conditions or severe weather events during harvest. Nelson Sauvin in particular was extremely hard hit in localised areas by unfavourable conditions where the plants were unable to recover as the elements brought about a premature senescence.
  • Alpha Acid levels were up across all varieties and in some cases more than 1 % higher than long term averages. It is not possible to say with any certainty why the alpha acid levels increase or decrease seasonally and it is not generally a trend across all varieties. It is believed that favourable conditions in the late spring and early summer play a role in setting up plant chemistry. Wakatu was an example of how the conditions suited, as this year it not only displayed excellent yield performance but also above average alpha acid levels.

Main Harvest Points:

  • The 2016 harvest was completed by 18 grower / shareholders supplying their hops through the cooperatively owned company of New Zealand Hops Limited.
  • Cultivation continues to be dominated by designated aroma/flavour varieties at 355 Hectareswhile Alpha designated production continued to fall to 57 Hectares. An overall total of 412Hectares was harvested, an increase of 23 hectares from 2015 harvest (389 Ha)
  • Total volume harvested was 794,017 kilograms which is an increase of 55,284 kilograms on the 2015 harvest (738,733 kg) Aroma / Flavour designated hops accounted for 679,178 kilograms with alpha designated varieties at 114,839 kilograms.
  • The average alpha acid was 10.2 % with the highest commercial variety being 06.05-22-02 (formerly known as “Brooklyn”) at 18.3 % and the lowest being Wai-iti at 3.0 %. Average bale moistures were 9.25 % and Hop Storage Index (HSI) was an average of 0.224 across all bales and varieties delivered.

    * Note: Limitations in reporting now exist in the demarcation of alpha and aroma designation of hop varieties given that current brewing practices now see varieties of either ilk being used in dual purpose applications.

Market & Outlook


  • The 2016 crop was approximately 94 % sold prior to harvest with a post-harvest view that the total crop will be sold prior to the 2017 harvest.
  • Some spot availability has resulted in certain varieties from the 2016 harvest albeit limited initially until some balancing of contracts can be concluded. The current market demand for New Zealand Hops and specialty hops in general will continue as the growth in craft brewing continues.
  • Industry investment looks set to continue with new development planned in standing of gardens for increased plantings and harvesting infrastructure. Investment in post-harvest capability will also be required to handle an increasing crop and while cold storage is currently sized to meet an increase, packaging technology, materials handling and warehousing are all areas that will see further development.
  • Research and development will continue to be a major focus of the industry through our research partnership with New Zealand Plant and Food Research. Plant breeding remains at the forefront of the programme and new selections were identified through our pilot brewing trials during this season.

Please direct further enquires to nzhops@nzhops.co.nz  typing “Media Release” as the subject.


New Zealand Varieties Quantity   Northern Varieties Quantity
  (Kg)     (Kg)
Nelson Sauvin 168,538   Cascade 47,490
Motueka 136,358   Chinook 2,230
Wakatu 91,119   Fuggle 2,100
Pacifica 42,177   Styrian Golding 1,630
Green Bullet 38,183   Willamette 850
Pacific Gem 37,887   Golding 580
Rakau 35,278   Wye Challenger 425
Pacific Jade 34,115   Liberty 360
Dr Rudi 31,235      
Southern Cross 26,878   Total Northern Varieties 55,665
Waimea 22,290    
Wai-iti 16,342   Organic Varieties Quantity
Riwaka 14,443     (Kg)
Kohatu 11,077   Wakatu 7,690
Sticklebract 4,012   Cascade 5,500
06. 05-22-02 * 3,000   Nelson Sauvin 4,200
Trials 200   Pacific Gem 3,430
      Motueka 1,600
*formerly Brooklyn now Moutere     Rakau 2,140
Total NZ Varieties 713,132   Wai-iti 390
      Total Organic 25,220
      Harvest Total 794,017