Thursday, 27 June 2013

Czech hop harvest 1918 - 1923

Apologies for the recent number overload. I seem to be in a table sort of mood. Must be the hot summer weather.

Just a brief post today, no more than a simple look at a few hop production figures. With the spice of a little compare and contrast.

These are important statistics in a political sense, because they relate to the first five years of Czechoslovakia's existence. I thought it a shame when the country split up for no particularly good reason. I can remember being driven around Moravia by Czech friends and them making jokes when we crossed the "border" into Slovakia. Fewer than 10 years later the joke had turned into reality.

The compare and contrast is provided by similar figures for UK hop production. There should be something that jumps right out at you:  the much worse yield per acre in Czechoslovakia. Even in the best year, 1920, it was still less than half the average yield in the UK. The acreage under hops for the countries was remarkably similar: just over 20,000 acres. Yet in the UK that produced about three times as many hops. I'd love to know the reason for that big discrepancy. Was it just a matter of better farming methods in the UK or were other factors at play?

It's intriguing that the good and bad years are almost identical for the two countries. I suppose with the disruption of the war, it's no surprise that 1918 was the worst year. But in both countries 1920 and 1922 were the top two years, just in a different order.

I can explain why the hop acreage increased in the UK after the war's end. A surplus of hops, caused by falling gravities in the later phase of the war, encouraged farmers to switch to other crops. With the hop market stabilised after the end of the war, farmers saw prospects in growing hops again. Even so, it remained less than the 33,661 acres which had been dedicated to hops in 1914*.

Why did acreage fall in Czechoslovakia? My guess would be something to do with the fallout of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some key markets for Czech hops - for example Austria and Hungary - were now in foreign countries. Though I know from brewing records that large quantities of Saaz were used in Britain between the wars.

And that's me done. I told you it would be brief today.

Czech hop harvest 1918 - 1923
Year. Acres. Crop. cwt. Average per acre. owt.
1918 21,065 41,346 1.9
1919 21,462.5 87,036 4.055
1920 20,902.5 105,312 5.04
1921 19,182.5 58,066 3.025
1922 19,655 112,842 5.74
1923 19,402.5 60,873 3.135
average 20,278 77,579 3.82
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, Issue 4, April 1924, page 252.

UK hop production 1918 - 1923
year Acreage UK production (cwt.) yield per acre (Cwt.)
1918 15,666 138,491 8.84
1919 16,745 187,795 11.21
1920 21,002 258,042 12.29
1921 25,133 236,172 9.40
1922 26,452 312,000 11.79
1923 24,893 229,000 9.20
average 21,649 226,917 10.46
1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 119

* Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 63.


Pivní Filosof said...

There's a passage in Švejk where the hero meets a hop trader who complains about how much the war is hurting his business, he was selling hops to Croatia (if I remember correctly). I wonder how the trade to those countries recovered after the war.

Stan Hieronymus said...

If you are looking for another time suck The Barth Report is available going back to 1909: