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Blake Crosby Reflects on Harvest 2019

Pictured above: The first day of harvest, August 20, 2019 at sunrise

As we continuously improve and refine our craft each year, the resilient force of the hop plant and the power of mother nature continues to amaze us. The bounty of 2019 was extra special as it was our biggest production year ever at Crosby Hop Farm!

The overall growing season was favorable in the Willamette Valley, although a bit unique. The moderate temperatures were a welcome change over the last several years of hotter weather. This season’s conditions paired with timely moderate precipitation helped cone development and sizing, density, quality, and overall plant growth, which contributed to increased yields.

Most varieties came in at or above production and quality expectations with many notable highlights including:

Centennial yields were at the high end of their five-year average with above average alpha and total oils. This season, Centennial performed well on the selection table and brewers were especially pleased with this year’s bounty.

Nugget yields were above average despite some increased powdery mildew pressure. Nugget alphas broke our previous farm record, which was advantageous given it is typically sold on an alpha basis in the current marketplace.

Strata®, our darling from Indie Hops and the OSU breeding program did remarkably well for its first production year. This variety continues to be a bright spot for the future of Oregon hops.

Amarillo® - Many brewers from around the world remain impressed with our estate-grown Amarillo® and the character it presented for Crop 2019 did not disappoint. Yields were strong along with the consistency of this variety. The first ever Oregon Amarillo® planting at Horseshoe Lake (my grandfather’s farm) took the prize for highest yield of 2019. This is a notable benchmark given the fact that this yard was under water in April due to the flooding we experienced this spring in the Willamette Valley. This is a clear reminder of the resilience of the hop plant!

Chinook yields and aroma quality were superior to previous years. The characteristic fruitiness we often find in our Chinook yards was prominent and appreciated by many brewers.

Once again Comet did not disappoint. From our estate-grown acreage, this variety was the most impactful brewers cut on the table for the second year in a row. The aroma impact was noted as intense grapefruit with a tropical backbone.

This year CHF also collaborated with Tom Shellhammer and the HRC (Hop Research Council) on a kiln temperature study with the Amarillo® variety. We kilned Amarillo® at three different temperature setpoints (low, medium, high) to better understand the impact and relationships of kiln temperature on overall hop enzymatic activity and hop quality. We look forward to learning more as data is collected and analyzed this winter by the great team at OSU.

As passionate hop growers and farmers, we expect the unexpected on any given year and when new challenges arise, we are naturally conditioned to adapt and persevere. 2019 was no exception with nearly 30% of our harvest characterized by measurable precipitation, which made it more difficult to pull hops out of the field as well as harvest and kiln dry them. Even with these challenges, the team pulled together and got the job done while maintaining our standards for quality. We are continually grateful for the dedicated staff that make this possible year in and year out.

We look forward to more enhancements and upgrades as we prepare in the off season for another exciting year to come. Cheers to 2019 and onward to 2020!

Blake Crosby, President & CEO

Check out more Beyond the Box blog posts HERE and stay tuned for additional Crosby Hops updates throughout the year. Cheers!