Taken from http://www.beachmetro.com/2018/01/25/everything-need-know-hops-2018s-herb-year/ (Everything you need to know about hops: 2018’s herb of the year)
Ontario, it turns out, is in a pretty good position – literally – for commercial hop growing. The plants need long days to flower, but can’t stand too much cold. “The hops industry has increased significantly in the last eight years from 15 acres to 145 in 2017,” says Bianca Jamieson, at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Farms and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Growers had sales of nearly $1.5 million last year, and there’s plenty of room to expand. Currently, just five per cent of the one million kilos of hops used in Ontario are supplied by local hop growers.
Hugh Brown, of Heritage Hill Organics and past president of the Ontario Hops Growers Association, recalls how he began as a grower. “I always had an interest in craft brewing. I come from a beer town, Barrie, where the old Molson brewery was.” Brown got his first little hop cuttings in the early 2000s from Walter Hogg, master brewer at Molson’s.
Now he runs his own small hopyard near Barrie.
“It’s kind of a neat plant,” Brown says appreciatively. “It’s a beautiful bright green.” At harvest time, the vines are cut off at the root and taken down. Then some growers people hand-pick the cones, and some use machinery. There was one time, Brown tells, that he set the cut plants on his picnic table and picked the cones there.
For commercial growers, insects and downy mildew are the biggest problems, he adds, and the OHGA works to find solutions and ways to grow hops sustainably.