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Hop Production In England

HOP PRODUCTION IN ENGLAND l The cultivation of hops in the British Isles is restricted to England, where it is practically confined to half-a-dozen counties four in the south-eastern and two in the west-midland districts. In 1901 the English crop was reported by the Board of Agriculture to occupy 51,127 acres. The official returns as to acreage do not extend back beyond 1868, in which year the total area was reported to be 64,488 acres. The largest area recorded since then was 71,789 acres in 1878; the smallest was 44,938 acres in 1907. The extent to which the areas of hops in the chief hop-growing counties vary from year to year is sufficiently indicated in Table I., which shows the annual acreages over a period of thirteen years, 1895 to I 97- The proportions in which the acres of hops are distributed amongst the counties concerned vary but little year by year, and as a rule over 60% belongs to Kent.

The wide fluctuations in the home production of hops are worthy of note, as they exercise a powerful influence upon market prices. The largest crop between 1885, the first year in which figures relating to production were collected, and 1907 was 1 See Report from the Select Committee on the Hop Industry (London, 1908).

that of 776,144 cwt. in 1886, and the smallest that of 281,291 cwt. in 1888, the former being more than 25 times the size of the latter. The crop of 1899, estimated at 661,373 cwt., was so large that prices receded to an extent such as to leave no margin of profit to the great body of growers, whilst some planters were able to market the crop only at a loss. The calculated annual average yields per acre over the years 1885 to 1907 ranged between 12-76 cwt. in 1899 and 4-81 cwt. in 1888. No other staple crop of British agriculture undergoes such wide fluctuations in yield as are here indicated, the size of the crop produced bearing no relation to the acreage under cultivation. For example, the 71,327 acres in 1885 produced only 509,170 cwt., whereas the 51,843 acres in 1899 produced 661,373 cwt. 19,484 acres less under crop yielded 152,203 cwt. more produce.

Comparing the quantities of home-grown hops with those of imported hops, of the total available for consumption about 70% on the average is home produce and about 30% is imported produce. The imports, however, do not vary so much as the home produce. Table IV. shows the average quantity of imports to and exports (home-grown) from Great Britain during the decades 1877-1886, 1887-1896 and 1897-1906.

TABLE IV.

Periods.

Annual Average Imports (cwt.).

Annual Average Exports (cwt.).

1877-1886 1887-1896 1897-1906 215,219 194,966 186,362 10,805 9,437 14,808 The highest and lowest imports were 266,952 cwt. in 1885 and 145,122 cwt. in 1887, the latter in the year following the biggest home-grown crop on record. On a series of years the largest proportion of imports is from the United States.

During the twenty-five years 1881-1905 the annual values of the hops imported into England fluctuated between the wide limits of 2,962,631 in 1882 and 427,753 in 1887. In five other years besides 1882 the value exceeded a million sterling. The annual average value over the whole period was 921,000, whilst the annual average import was 194,000 cwt., consequently the average value per cwt. was nearly 4, 153., which is approximately the same as that of the exported product. The quantities and values of the imported hops that are again exported are almost insignificant.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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