Hops: Organic Production


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Hops: Organic Production

  1. 1. ATTRA Hops: Organic Production A Publication of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service • 1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.orgBy George Kuepper Organic hops production in the U.S. is finding a niche among the growing number of microbreweriesUpdated by that currently purchase organic hops from New Zealand and China. This publication looks at culturalKatherine L. Adam requirements for organic hops, hops varieties, and recent research. It also provides a list of further hopsNCAT Agriculture resources.Specialist© NCAT 2005Contents Organic Farming, OrganicOrganic Farming,Organic Certification, Certification, and theand the NationalOrganic Program ............ 1 National Organic ProgramCulture................................ 1 Organic farmers rely heavily on crop rota-Recent research ............. 2 tions, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, composts, andReferences ........................ 3 mineral-bearing rock powders to feed theResources .......................... 4 soil and supply plant nutrients. Insects, weeds, and other pests are managed by mechanical cultivation and cultural, biolog- ical, and biorational controls. Synthetic pes- ticides, growth regulators, and conventional fertilizers are prohibited. See the publica- tion NCAT’s Organic Crops Workbook and publications in ATTRA’s Organic Series at www.attra.ncat.org. While in the past the center of U.S. hops pro- duction was in the Pacific Northwest, mainly Hops. Photo by Marlon Bruin, www.sxc.hu. under contract with a few major breweries, now dried hops are easily imported from around the world to supply an essential Culture ingredient to emerging U.S. microbrewer- The hop of commerce is the female flower, ies. However, the price is high, and so is the commonly called a cone. Hops are pro- organic premium. If U.S. production costs duced on climbing vines from female rhi- work out, a new niche market for organic zomes planted one to a hill, with four to six hops could make U.S. farmers competitive vines per plant. Vines are trained on almost with those in New Zealand. China is also vertical strings to a flat overhead trellis. starting to produce organic hops. Trellis pole supports need to be at least 12ATTRA - National Sustainable feet above the ground and no more thanAgriculture Information Service Hops were first planted in the U.S. in 25 feet apart. Hop hills should be about 2is managed by the National Cen- 1629.(1) U.S. hops production was at 1.5ter for Appropriate Technology feet apart, allowing 10 hills (of the same(NCAT) and is funded under a million pounds by the mid-1800s. Due to variety) per set of poles. Careful choice ofgrant from the United States powdery mildew and other diseases, hopsDepartment of Agriculture’s location of the hops vineyard will shelterRural Business-Cooperative Ser- production moved westward during the vines from prevailing winds.(2)vice. Visit the NCAT Web site(www.ncat.org/agri. 1920s. Currently, most hops are grown onhtml) for more informa- the Pacific Coast, where disease pressure is To produce hops in the proportions com-tion on our sustainableagriculture projects. ���� less than in the humid eastern U.S. mon for brewing beer, growers should plan
  2. 2. on growing roughly twice as many hills of natural predators, but if aphids get out of aromatic hops (3 to 5% bitterness) as of bit- hand, the population can be set back with tering hops (above 11% bitterness), making an insecticidal soap spray. Applications of sure to leave enough space between vari- neem will also control aphids, as well as spi- eties so that it is easy to keep the differ- der mites. Mites may be a problem, espe- ent types of hops separate at harvest. About cially in hot, dry weather. There are some four hills (plants) of aromatic hops and two natural enemies of mites, but the most effec- hills of bittering hops are needed for every tive non-chemical control is a good cold rain hundred gallons of beer. Each of the four to or a heavy hosing with cold water. Adequate six vines arising from a hill produces four irrigation in dry periods will also reduce to six ounces of dried hops.(3) mite damage by decreasing water stress on the plants. Hops can generally be well nourished with abundant applications of compos- The biggest challenge may be finding a ted manure, accompanied by roughly one source of organic hop rhizomes of the pre- handful each of bonemeal and wood ash ferred varieties. Local brewing clubs may per hill. Unlike many crops, hops tend to know of a source. A company that offersI produce better in soil with a relatively high female hop rhizomes on the Internet is Brew n states where proportion of phosphorus and potassium to Organic, of Santa Cruz, California.(4) Plant- hops are com- nitrogen. Put another way, boosting nitro- ing stock is certified organic by CCOF. Brew- monly grown, gen fertility does not tend to increase yields. ing networks mention Germany and Canadathe local Extension Hops also respond well to small amounts as preferred sources for planting stock.Service may be able of boron—a small pinch of borax per hill should be quite adequate.(3) In states where hops are commonly grown,to provide informa- the local Extension Service may be able totion on planting Hops are vegetatively propagated from provide information on planting dates, vari-dates and varieties root cuttings, and there are both male and eties to select, etc. In the past, Washington female plants. Since only female flowers are State Extension has offered publications onto select. used in brewing, and hop seeds are a prob- growing hops, including crop budgets and lem for brewers, make sure to obtain only irrigation information. female rhizomes for planting. Normally, hops are planted at about the same time as A recent publication (2000) listed preferred early peas, and can tolerate freezes down to hops varieties (by quantity of production) for 20˚ F with a good straw mulch. Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.(5) This Many growers of hops experience difficul- listing, along with one for the Northeast (7) ties with downy mildew and Verticillium wilt. and an alphabetical list of varieties for Cali- Both are fungal diseases that can be kept in fornia (2), appears on the chart below. check with sulfur-based fungicides. Downy mildew, especially, can spread quite quickly, Recent research so plants should be monitored regularly all A 1998 Sustainable Agriculture Research season long. Cut off any infected parts, if pos- and Education grant supported a field trial sible, placing them in a tightly closed plastic of 15 different varieties of hops grown under bag for off-site disposal, rather than compost- organic management at Jeffrey Klein’s farm, ing. Some growers prune off the lower two Westerlo, New York. The trial was success- feet or so of leaves to impede mildew infec- ful, and Klein quickly sold his first year’s tions by improving ventilation near the soil. harvest to home brewers and to a producer Wide spacing of the hop hills also reduces of homeopathic medicine. Experimenting the chances of serious infection, because the with 12-foot trellises of fresh-cut white oak better ventilation reduces humidity levels in (instead of the traditional 20-foot used util- the immediate plant environment. ity poles that cannot be employed in organic Aphids are probably the most common production), Klein grew 130 vines on one- insect pest. These are usually controlled by quarter acre. Each vine produced four toPage 2 ATTRA Hops: Organic Production
  3. 3. Hops varietiesWashington Oregon Idaho California NortheastNugget Nugget Zeus Brewer’s Gold (home garden) Cascade Tettnang (most used, byGalena Willamette Galena Bullion (bittering) weight)Zeus Perle Cluster Cascade (aromatic) HallertauWillamette Mt. Hood Willamette Centennial (bittering) SaazMillennium Golding Mt. Hood Chinook (bittering) WillametteCascade Fuggle Hallertauer (aromatic) E. Kent Goldings Tettnanger Hersbrucker (aromatic) Fuggle Fuggle Perle Mt. Hood (aromatic) Northern Brewer Nugget (bittering) Centennial Old Early Cluster Old English Cluster Perle (all purpose) Tettnang/Tettnanger (aromatic, spicy) Willamette (all purpose)six ounces of dried hops. The going retail regional hops. (Determination of marketprice for organic hops is now $9 per ounce potential for organic hops in the Northeast,(representing an organic premium of $7). where organics is very popular, was notDried hops can be frozen and stored. More included in this survey.)(7)information is available from Klein or fromNortheast SARE.(6) References 1) Bamka, Bill. 1999. Hops demonstra-Cornell/Northeast Hop Alliance tion project. Rutgers Hop Produc-survey (2002) tion study. 3 p.Cornell’s Community, Food, and Agricul- www.rce.rutgers.edu/burlington/ture Program, along with the Northeast hops.htmHop Alliance (see Resources, below) pub-lished results in 2003 of a 2002 survey of 2) Morehead, Gordon W. 1996. Hopmore than 400 microbreweries, brewpubs, culture in California. Small Farmand regional breweries. There was a good News. May–June. p. 3–4.response rate, predominantly from brew- 3) Beach, D. 2000. Homegrown Hops.pubs and microbreweries. Three-quarters 2nd edition, Reveille Farm, Junc-of the respondents reported using pellet- tion City, OR.ized hops; however, a few microbreweries Available from Amazon.com.and brewpubs still use some fresh or wholehops. Brewpubs use more pounds of hops 4) Brew Organicper barrel of beer than do microbreweries. 325A River StreetA majority of the breweries said they would Santa Cruz, CA 95060pay a premium of between 5 and 10% for 800-768-4409www.attra.ncat.org ATTRA Page 3
  4. 4. 831-454-9665 Publications www.breworganic.com Carter, P.R., et al. 1990. Hop. Alternative Field5) Kneen, Rebecca. 2003. Small scale and organic Crops Manual. University of Minnesota Extension, hops production. Kneen, Left Fields, British University of Wisconsin—Madison. 6 p. Columbia. Fisher, Joe, and Dennis Fisher. 1998. The Home- www.crannogales.com/manual%20final.pdf brewer’s Garden. Storey Books, Pownal, UT. 188 p.6) SARE. 1998. Reports from the field—Hop to it: Perry, Leonard P. 1991. Growing hops in New Eng- A field trial of organic hops. 2 p. land. 2 p. www.uvm.edu/~nesare/reports_hops.html www.uvm.edu/~pass/perry/hopsne.html7) Hilchey, Duncan. 2003. CFAP research update: Staff. 2000. Hop to it: A field trial of organic hops. Northeastern breweries express interest in Innovations in Sustainable Agriculture. Spring. regionally grown hops. Community, Food, and p. 6–7. Agriculture Program News [Cornell Univer- sity]. Fall. p. 4–5. Washington State University Extension PublicationsResources EB1134–Cost of Establishing and Producing HopsOrganization Under Drip Irrigation in the Yakima Valley ($2.00)Northeast Hop Alliance FG0011–Fertilizer Guide: Irrigated Hops for CentralLarry Fisher, President Washington.P.O. Box 176 Contact Washington State to determine shipping andMunnsville, NY 13409 handling charges.315-495-2451info@northeasthopalliance.org WSU Bulletins Officewww.northeasthopalliance.org P.O. Box 645912 Pullman, Washington 99164-5912The Northeast Hop Alliance was organized in 2003. 800-723-1763 http://pubs.wsu.edu/ (on-line orders) Hops: Organic Production By George Kuepper Updated by Katherine L. Adam NCAT Agriculture Specialists ©NCAT 2005 Paul Williams, Editor Robyn Metzger, Production This publication is available on the Web at: www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/hop.html or www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/hop.pdf CT 115 Slot 74 Version 111105Page 4 ATTRA