Czech farmers are predicting a significant slump in the hop harvest this year, caused by the unusually hot weather and lack of rain. Hop production is expected to drop despite the fact that the overall area of hop fields expanded by 81 hectares in 2018. Last year, farmers harvested over 6,700 tonnes of hops, which was slightly above the average.
According to Czech Hop Growers’ Association secretary Michal Kovařík, the harvest has gotten underway in all of the country’s hop-growing areas with the exception of the Žatec region. Due to the drawn-out period of drought, harvest has started several weeks earlier than usual. However, experts say that the quality of hops should not be affected.
The area of the Czech Republic’s hop fields has increased for a fifth year in a row. According to the data from the Hop Growers’ Association, the traditional Czech crop is now being grown on 5,026 hectares of land. The cultivation increases due to a growing demand for hops, driven by the current boom of mini-breweries.
The Czech Republic is the third-largest exporter of hops in the world, and the biggest producer of fine aromatic varieties. Around 80 percent of the total Czech production of hops is exported abroad, the largest customer traditionally being Japan.
More than 85 percent of the overall Czech hop yield is made up by the Saaz hops – a mild aromatic variety called Žatecký poloraný červěňák or Žatec semi-early red-bine hops. Other varieties include Sládek, Premiant and the bitter Agnus.
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