Hop yard or hop plantation are two terms frequently used to describe a farm that produces hops on a commercial scale. The hops can be used for a variety of things, but are most often used in the brewing industry. Hops are a perennial plant with an aggressive growth pattern that require good growing conditions if maximum yields are to be expected. Hop plants grow best in well-drained, fertile soil, receiving high amounts of sunlight, in a location with good air circulation and a relatively dry climate.
Under ideal growing conditions a hop plant can produce for 25 years or more. The development of a hop yard requires an investment into land, equipment, irrigation systems, hop plants and a trellis support system. Hop plants will reach production maturity in 3 to 5 years; this is when hop crop returns are maximized.
With establishment costs for a single acre being approximately $15,000 CND, there are a few things potential growers might want to consider before hand:
- Speak with some local hop grower in your local area to see which culitvars (varieties) are growing well in the region
- Examine results of available regional hop research variety trials
- Talk to local brewers to find out their preferences/requirements for hop cultivars
- Look for rhizome suppliers; be sure to look for quality root-stock (it should be healthy and disease-free)
- Plant a some trial rhizomes on the proposed land before comitting to a large purchase
- Choose cultivars that have characteristics suitable for your geographical region and soil type
- Plant varieties that will mature at different times to make harvesting easier (ex. early, mid and late harvest)
For more information on the different inputs needed on a hopfarm, please visit our pest, weed and soil management pages, as well as our resource page which provides helpful links and book suggestions.