2018 Harvest info

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New Zealand Hops Ltd

Crop Report and Industry Update April 2018

The New Zealand Hop Cooperatives’ production volume for 2018 totalled 721,959 kilograms including 17,456 kilograms as certified organics with the mix of cultivars grown comprising seventeen unique New Zealand varieties, six northern types and four trial hops (Table #1). Harvesting commenced mid-February with early varieties such as Pacifica and Taiheke being the first bales received into store and was completed for the most part by the end of March.

Major weather events dominated much of the growing conditions and while New Zealand is considered to be only moderately impacted by the El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), during this year’s growing season the Tasman District certainly experienced the extreme end of what these systems can develop. Several compounding factors including a number of severe storm events made for a very challenging growing season. A very wet winter was followed by an equally wet spring which made ground preparation problematic, especially on the heavier soil types. This brought on delays in new plantings and the demanding conditions had a significant impact on yields, especially on the “baby” hops which were to make up a large proportion of the season’s crop. When the summer finally arrived it brought with it a heat wave and some varieties responded negatively to the extended hot and dry conditions by setting flower before the plants had fully developed their lateral branching and framework. During February Ex tropical cyclones Fehi and Gita brought with them record levels of rainfall which caused major flooding and extensive damage to the region, fortunately though the gale force winds that were predicted did not arrive.

The visual result displayed the resilience of the hop plant as there had still been generous cone development in the run up to autumn. The reality was however that once weighed into store the growers had produced a much lighter crop than expected. This was very disappointing given that the response to increased market demand had been both an increase in grower numbers and the total area under production, up ninety hectares on last season. This has required a large investment in new plantings and facilities and the expectations were that this would increase total hop production in 2018 significantly. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be this year and with the harvest complete only 5,759 bales were received into store, a decrease of 458 bales on the 2017 result.

Yield / Alpha Performance & Quality

  • Yield performance in almost all varieties was below the long term average and the weather events as outlined in this report created the greatest impacts. Post-harvest analysis of kilning and baling operations has shown that lower hop densities have translated to reduced cone weights and a reduction in overall kiln outturn. Put simply, growers were required to press more hops into the bales to achieve standard bale weights.

  • Alpha Acids were also below the average across all varieties both alpha and aroma at 8.8 % alpha acid versus recent seasons averages of 9.9 % alpha acids.

  • Although there were no standout varieties performance wise, Wai-iti, Kohatu, Moutere and Taiheke all met their estimated volumes which was quite pleasing given the conditions. Motueka, Rakau and Waimea all suffered from the wet conditions especially on heavier ground and a complete seasonal reverse for Motueka which had been the highest performing hop in 2017.

Main Harvest Points:

  • The 2018 harvest was completed by our 23 grower / shareholders supplying their hops through the cooperatively owned company of New Zealand Hops Limited. This number is an increase of 5 growers on the 2017 harvest.

  • Plantings continue to be dominated by specialty aroma hops with the total area of hops being grown by the cooperative in 2018 at 531 Hectares.

  • Total volume harvested was 721,959 kilograms which is a decrease of 38,570 kilograms on the 2017 harvest volume of 760,529 kilograms.

  • The average alpha acid was at 8.8 % with the highest commercial variety, Moutere at 16.5% and the lowest being Wai-iti at 2.0 %. Average bale moistures were 9.33 % and Hop Storage Index (HSI) was an average of 0.224 across all bales and varieties delivered.

  • Aroma, colour and quality scores were all of a high standard demonstrating the skill and experience of our growers and the performance of the many new, state of the art, picking and kilning facilities installed for the 2018 season.

Market & Outlook


  • The 2018 crop was 92 % sold prior to harvest with a post-harvest view that the major portion of all forward contracts would need to be adjusted down via a percentage pro-rata reduction on variety shortfalls.

  • Given the forward sold position and the production shortfalls only a very limited volume of spot hops will be available through the New Zealand Hops Cooperative.

  • The current demand for New Zealand Hops and specialty hops in general continues, however market signals indicate a slowing down in mature Craft Beer markets such as the USA. The Craft beer market itself is still quite buoyant both domestically and internationally with significant growth being seen in emerging markets.

  • As has been previously reported investment in New Zealand Hops Limited is set to continue with new developments for storage and logistics capability to manage the increase in volume expected from new plantings and harvesting infrastructure as the co-operative develops further to support its long term growth strategy.

  • The hop breeding programme continues to develop new and unique hops with two new varieties in grower trials this season and approaching commercial release. Two other promising selections will also be advanced next year into grower trials as New Zealand Hops Limited continues to focus on creating a point of difference for its customers while keeping pace with the international brewing market.


Table # 1 Harvest Volumes by Variety


New Zealand Varieties Quantity   Northern Varieties Quantity
  (Kg)     (Kg)
Nelson Sauvin 176,551   Chinook 1,769
Motueka 133,600   Fuggle 668
Wakatu 55,935   Styrian Golding 640
Taiheke 50,961   Willamette 479
Pacifica 32,137   Golding 469
Rakau 30,907   Liberty 247
Green Bullet 30,340      
Wai-iti 28,104      
Pacific Gem 26,612      
Pacific Jade 25,484      
Dr Rudi 25,414   Total Northern Varieties 4,272
Kohatu 19,412      
Waimea 17,829   Organic Varieties Quantity
Southern Cross 15,795   (Kg)  
Riwaka 13,435   Nelson Sauvin 5,283
Moutere* 13,316   Wakatu ,4915
Sticklebract 2,258   Taiheke 468
Trials 2,141   Pacific Gem 3,627
*formerly Brooklyn now Moutere     Rakau 1800
      Motueka 769
Total NZ Varieties 700,231   Wai-iti 594
      Total Organic 17,456
      Harvest Total 721,959

Written by: Doug Donelan CEO April 2018

Please direct questions or enquiries to nzhops@nzhops.co.nz using Crop Report 2018 as the subject.