A hops harvest that grows bigger each year

Washington’s Yakima Valley supports many of the craft breweries in the U.S.

  • A top cutter machine is used to harvest hop bines at CLS Farms in Moxee, Washington.

    Sofia Jaramillo
  • Leftover hop bines hang in a field at CLS Farms. Because of high demand for hop-forward beers, farms like CLS are growing more product and seeing some of their highest yields yet.

    Sofia Jaramillo
  • Hop bines are loaded into a truck at CLS Farms.

    Sofia Jaramillo
  • Workers load hop bines onto a picking machine. In the Yakima Valley, the harvest season runs from the end of August through September.

    Sofia Jaramillo
  • Washington's Yakima Valley is the nation's top hops producer, yielding three-quarters of the hops grown in the United States.

    Sofia Jaramillo
  • Workers process hop bines at CLS Farms.

    Sofia Jaramillo
  • A picking machine separates plant materials at CLS Farms.

    Sofia Jaramillo
  • Hop cones are stored at a warehouse before being packaged at CLS Farms.

    Sofia Jaramillo
  • A worker is illuminated by the sunrise in the Yakima Valley at CLS Farms.

    Sofia Jaramillo
  • Workers process hop bines at CLS Farms until late into the night.

    Sofia Jaramillo

 

If Napa Valley, California, is the wine region of the country, then Washington’s Yakima Valley should be called the beer region of the world. The area is home to family farms that have specialized in hops production for generations. The crop has been perfected in this part of the country since the late 1800s, gaining the valley a global reputation for its product. It’s the region’s combination of a semi-arid climate, fertile soil and plentiful water that make the plant so prolific: The valley grows 75 percent of the hops in the United States. Washington may be the center of the country’s production, but other Western states, including Idaho and Oregon, are also ramping up their output as the general population’s fascination with craft beers grows.

In 2017, a whopping 104 million pounds of hops were produced in the U.S., accounting for a 20 percent increase in plant yields, according to the Department of Agriculture. Wyoming-based photographer Sofia Jaramillo, who photographs people and places around the West, captured some shots from a hops harvest at the CLS Farms in Moxee, Washington, located in the Yakima Valley. The harvest runs from the end of August through September. —Jessica Kutz, editorial intern

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