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.|
|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.)|
|1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 119|
* Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 63.