Author Topic: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!  (Read 1287 times)

Offline MattFarmer

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Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« on: September 10, 2015, 11:45:57 PM »
Hey guys, my name's Matt, I'm a farmer from the central valley in Ca...  Not the best place for growing hops from what I understand.  I've always loved beer, and agriculture...  Right now I have a 17 acre block of almond tree's that are almost ready to be ripped out, and even thought it sounds kind of crazy I wanted to look into possibly plant hops.  Short of selling my land and moving to Upstate NY or Oregon (two of the my favorite place's that have climate for hops), planting here in hot dusty California is what I'll have to do.

I've done some research and found a post from this site which had helpful info and links:
https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=6335.0

I found this awesome link on youtube WITH A TON OF DETAILS  even though I'm not planning on going organic:
https://youtu.be/y_8rDOYYWik



I'm not sure this is exactly the right forum, but this looked like a great place to start.

Basically I was wondering if I could grow hops where I live?  The soil is literally some of the best soil in the world, but I'm more worried about the heat here.  From what I've read Cascade & Centennial hops are two of the most desirable varieties that can handle the heat and do ok...

I don't really know who or how to approach micro-breweries, but I know of a couple in Mariposa Ca, which is a mountain above where I live... 

That's all I can think of at the moment...  Thanks for taking a look at this post.

Offline narvin

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2015, 12:37:05 AM »
I'm not an expert, but I know there are heat resistant varieties.  I also think that wet, humid weather can be worse than just heat.  But I'm sure others with more experience will chime in.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2015, 02:25:33 AM »
Hops were grown near Sacramento early last century, I have been told some are  growing hops again there. Contact breweries around there to see if they use local hops. Sierra Nevada grows hops in Chico.

Look into drip irrigation, it may be hot, but hops like sun if they get enough water. contact you local ag extension and see what the state of CA can tell you.

Contact this organization to see what they know about CA growers.
http://www.usahops.org/index.cfm

Good luck it is Expensive to start a hop farm.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2015, 02:32:04 AM »
There are hops growing west of Sacramento just past Davis as well as north west of Sacramento on Lincoln. I'm sure there are others in the area as well.

Hops were grown all over Northern California. There is a town north of Santa Rosa called Hopland and a road in Pleasanton (east bay) named Hopyard that is named for what was reportedly the largest hop farm in the world at one point. Much of the hop industry left the state around prohibition.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2015, 12:24:06 PM »
There are hops growing west of Sacramento just past Davis as well as north west of Sacramento on Lincoln. I'm sure there are others in the area as well.

Hops were grown all over Northern California. There is a town north of Santa Rosa called Hopland and a road in Pleasanton (east bay) named Hopyard that is named for what was reportedly the largest hop farm in the world at one point. Much of the hop industry left the state around prohibition.
Also near Santa Rosa/Healdsburg. Hop Kiln winery.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2015, 03:04:35 PM »
There are hops growing west of Sacramento just past Davis as well as north west of Sacramento on Lincoln. I'm sure there are others in the area as well.

Hops were grown all over Northern California. There is a town north of Santa Rosa called Hopland and a road in Pleasanton (east bay) named Hopyard that is named for what was reportedly the largest hop farm in the world at one point. Much of the hop industry left the state around prohibition.
Also near Santa Rosa/Healdsburg. Hop Kiln winery.


I stopped in there once.  They still had hops bines growing up the trellises by the door.
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Offline thirsty

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2015, 03:15:49 PM »
Don't almonds bring in more $ per pound?

Note: I know nothing about growing almonds, but I have bought both almonds and hops, and almonds are waaaay more expensive.

Offline denny

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2015, 03:18:45 PM »
Hops were grown near Sacramento early last century, I have been told some are  growing hops again there. Contact breweries around there to see if they use local hops. Sierra Nevada grows hops in Chico.

Look into drip irrigation, it may be hot, but hops like sun if they get enough water. contact you local ag extension and see what the state of CA can tell you.

Contact this organization to see what they know about CA growers.
http://www.usahops.org/index.cfm

Good luck it is Expensive to start a hop farm.

Sierra Nevada kinda grows hops...not seriously.

Growing hops is the easy part and it's not easy.  The hard, expensive part is processing them.  You need pickers to remove the cones from the bines.  You need kilns to dry the hops.  You need some way to bale them for delivery.  You need LOTS of hand labor.  A rough estimate is that EVERY hop plant is touched by hand 8000 times.  That all takes a LOT of money.  I would suggest you visit some hop farms to get an idea of the reality.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2015, 03:21:05 PM »
Don't almonds bring in more $ per pound?

Note: I know nothing about growing almonds, but I have bought both almonds and hops, and almonds are waaaay more expensive.

almonds run 15$ a pound retail for organic. hops run ~24$-32$ per pound organic. Now yield per acre? I don't know. and the water usage is what makes the real difference right now in CA and I don't know what to offer in terms of advice there either. I know almonds take a lot of water and there is less biomass to support on a hop bine but it's all new growth every year.
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Offline pete b

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2015, 03:23:04 PM »
While nothing like the droughts in parts of the country summers in New England, especially July-August, can be surprisingly hot and rain free. My experience growing hops is that the first year lots of irrigation is needed, but once established, with good ground covering plantings and proper mulching, very little watering is needed.
If hops are not growing in your area, depending on other agriculture, you might have an advantage in that the usual pests might not find you for many years. It sounds like fungal diseases won't be a problem.
I imagine your best bet is getting as many local breweries who want to be able to market the fact that they use some local hops: that's you!
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Offline denny

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2015, 03:24:39 PM »
Latitude plays a large part in when hops flower and the yield you get.  Getting too far from the 45th parallel will reduce your yield considerably.  Not that you can't grow them, but it might not be worth it in terms of yield.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2015, 03:47:37 PM »
Hops were grown near Sacramento early last century, I have been told some are  growing hops again there. Contact breweries around there to see if they use local hops. Sierra Nevada grows hops in Chico.

Look into drip irrigation, it may be hot, but hops like sun if they get enough water. contact you local ag extension and see what the state of CA can tell you.

Contact this organization to see what they know about CA growers.
http://www.usahops.org/index.cfm

Good luck it is Expensive to start a hop farm.

Sierra Nevada kinda grows hops...not seriously.

Growing hops is the easy part and it's not easy.  The hard, expensive part is processing them.  You need pickers to remove the cones from the bines.  You need kilns to dry the hops.  You need some way to bale them for delivery.  You need LOTS of hand labor.  A rough estimate is that EVERY hop plant is touched by hand 8000 times.  That all takes a LOT of money.  I would suggest you visit some hop farms to get an idea of the reality.
9 acres at SN. They say those are the most expensive ones they use.

8-10k per acre for trellis. Harvest on a big farm costs 5-6k per acre.

Small picking machines are still expensive, as are Kilns. Then you need to package or pelletize. He should look into a coop in the valley if there is one. I say that as there are coops here in MI for hops as no farm is big enough to have the equipment (save for one or two).

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Offline chinaski

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2015, 08:26:25 PM »
I think to be successful against the competition you have to consider the market for your hops in your region and your long-term ability to meet the demand that is there.  My guess that it would be extremely difficult to make money if you are growing to sell to a wholesaler.  You've got to find a way to get a premium price for your product at the scale you are talking about.  Good luck!'

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2015, 12:21:03 PM »
I think to be successful against the competition you have to consider the market for your hops in your region and your long-term ability to meet the demand that is there.  My guess that it would be extremely difficult to make money if you are growing to sell to a wholesaler.  You've got to find a way to get a premium price for your product at the scale you are talking about.  Good luck!'
+1.

Talked to a couple who have a hop farm in NC. They don't get much yield. Where they make money is to sell wet/fresh hops to the local breweries at a premium price. The price is below what it would cost to get fresh/wet hops shipped overnight air from Yakima. The breweries can say the beer was brewed with local hops.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Farmer thinking of growing Hops!
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2015, 01:02:01 PM »
Hops were grown near Sacramento early last century, I have been told some are  growing hops again there. Contact breweries around there to see if they use local hops. Sierra Nevada grows hops in Chico.

Look into drip irrigation, it may be hot, but hops like sun if they get enough water. contact you local ag extension and see what the state of CA can tell you.

Contact this organization to see what they know about CA growers.
http://www.usahops.org/index.cfm

Good luck it is Expensive to start a hop farm.

Sierra Nevada kinda grows hops...not seriously.

Growing hops is the easy part and it's not easy.  The hard, expensive part is processing them.  You need pickers to remove the cones from the bines.  You need kilns to dry the hops.  You need some way to bale them for delivery.  You need LOTS of hand labor.  A rough estimate is that EVERY hop plant is touched by hand 8000 times.  That all takes a LOT of money.  I would suggest you visit some hop farms to get an idea of the reality.
Speaking of hands touching hops, you might try rubbing some bines on your arms and see if they drive you nuts with itching before you get too far into it. Personally, im glad I can just buy a bag of pellets. If I had to handle hop bines for a day or two in order to get all the hops I need, I wouldn't.