The hops shortage of 2007 is over, buried in a glut of unsold hops.... "The only time I've heard of hops left hanging was back when powdery mildew hit so hard that some yards weren't worth picking," says John Annen of Annen Brothers Farms and chairman of the Oregon Hop Commission. "But never industrywide -- these are perfectly good hops unpicked because there's no warehouse space and no spot market for uncontracted hops."I hope this doesn't lead to an oscillating cycle of boom and bust, with hop growers ripping out too many acres and returning us to future hop shortages. Of course, even with over-supply, Foyston reports that no one expects beer prices to come down. Hops were only one of several difficulties that hit brewers recently, and that means high prices for the foreseeable future.
As to the crisis of the hop growers: maybe we homebrewers can pick up the slack. I'm in for a couple pounds. Anything to save those precious hops from a mulchy future.
Update: The Don't-Call-Me-A-Beeronomist offers an economist's take on the hop glut. He also gives an economist's take on the evanescent nature of fresh hops, though why you care what an economist thinks about that is another matter. (His econ stuff is solid.)