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Small-Scale and Organic Hops Manual

With the assistance of BC Investment Agriculture, we have created a hops growing manual for small-scale and organic producers. This is a basic manual, including extensive cultivation information as well as tips on how to build and design hops trellising, home dryers, and packaging for market.

This manual is available for free for individual users, thanks to generous funding by Investment Agriculture Foundation. It is copyrighted, and reproduction is a violation of copyright. If you would like a hard copy of the manual, or multiple copies, please contact us directly.

Download the Small-Scale & Organic Hops Production Manual. This requires Acrobat Reader 4, a free program which is readily available. The manual can also be found through the COABC website.

To order:

Hardcopy of the manual can be purchased from us for $12 plus $2.50 S&H. Please go to the Left Fields Store to order online and pay through PayPal. Otherwise, send $14.50 by cheque or money order to:

Left Fields, 706 Elson Road, Sorrento BC V0E 2W1

What's in the Manual:

  • Horticulture (soil, water, climate etc.)
  • Pests & diseases
  • Mulch, cover crops and intercropping
  • Hopyard design
  • Work from spring to fall
  • Marketing

Potential Hops Growers: Market Update

For more information on the market and costs of production, please read our Update. This update includes background on the situation as of December 2007, as well as basic trellising costs. For more detailed production information, please refer to our Small-Scale & Organic Hops Production Manual. Left Fields is pleased to provide organic hops rhizomes to commercial growers.

For those new to hops: please have a good look at the global situation, and give serious consideration to being certified organic and working with others to invest in a good hops picker. Beyond the capital costs, the best return in the industry will come from certified organic hops, as world demand continues to grow and cannot be met by conventional producers. Talk to your local breweries to ensure that they are willing to work with you to improve quality and to buy hops from you.

We feel we must provide these words of warning, because hop acreage increased approximately 25% in 2008 in the USA in response to the shortage. We are already seeing some supply exceed demand and prices dropping. Again, the best insurance is to work directly with your buyer (the brewer) and to be certified organic, and to spread your capital costs for picking and packing machinery around a larger group of producers.

Here is a link to a web page that breaks down the cost of establishing one acre under drip irrigation in 2004. Keep in mind that this study does not include cost of harvest, drying and baling. Hops are not a crop that can economically be harvested by hand. All of the remaining approximately 60 growers in the USA are heavily invested in mechanization. I suggest that you visit Oregon or Washington during harvest (Aug.20- Sept. 20) to see how the big growers work.

On the good news front: those who have already established relations with brewers are seeing immediate returns. Brewers are excited about being able to buy local (and advertise it!), and first year crop returns for growers were much higher than anticipated.

There is a lot of material available on-line apart from our manual: check out Hopunion, Freshops, the University of Vermont, the Hop Growers of America, the Oregon Hops Commission for starters. There are also print references in our Small-Scale & Organic Hops Production Manual. If you have more questions about varieties we list, please go to the following: Hopunion's variety Data Book and the variety information from the USDA Hops Research Station at Corvallis, OR.

There is a lot of material available on-line apart from our manual: check out HopunionFreshops, the University of Vermont,  the Hop Growers of America, the Oregon Hops Commission for starters. There are also print references in our manual. If you have more questions about varieties we list, please go to the following: Hopunion's variety Data Book and the variety information from the USDA Hops Research Station at Corvallis, OR.

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