Hop Harvest Timelines in Ontario

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By Evan Elford, OMAFRA New Crop Development Specialist & Alexandria Verkuyl, OMAFRA Summer Horticultural Research Assistant

As hop harvest approaches each year, questions arise about harvest timelines for specific cultivars grown in Ontario. Since hops are a re-emerging crop in the province, only preliminary information has been collected from replicated trials.  Here are a few guidelines and suggestions for planning your hop harvesting schedule this year.

Moisture test:
Target 20% dry matter in hop cones.  Moisture levels for some cultivars may be optimal at a slightly higher or lower dry matter percentage, but most fall within 20 ±  2% range.  By targeting initial harvest at 20% dry matter, larger fields taking more time to harvest or cultivars being harvested over multiple days will hopefully be completed within an acceptable moisture range.

Historical records:
Historical harvest records can help to schedule cultivar-specific harvest windows in your growing area but should always be confirmed with moisture tests. Table 1 depicts harvest timelines over two years for 10 different cultivars grown in a randomized and replicated trial at the Simcoe Research Station, Norfolk County, Ontario.  This table can be used as a guideline to better understand when specific hop cultivars may be maturing in your part of the province.  Keeping your own harvest records will help fine tune harvest dates in your particular growing region. Table 2 outlines the same cultivars with harvest dry matter, yield in kg/ha after drying and resulting alpha and beta acid ranges.

Table 1: Harvest date ranges for 10 hop cultivars grown in a randomized, replicated field trial completed by the University of Guelph located at the Simcoe Research Station, Norfolk County, Ontario.  Data is compiled from the 2014 and 2015 growing season from 2nd year and 3rd year hop plants respectively (McDonald et al., 2016).

Ontario hop cultivar harvest dates 2014-2015


Table 2: Harvest parameters and resulting resin results for 10 hop cultivars grown in a randomized, replicated field trial completed by the University of Guelph located at the Simcoe Research Station, Norfolk County, Ontario.  Data is compiled from the 2014 and 2015 growing season from 2nd year and 3rd year hop plants respectively (McDonald et al., 2016).

Ontario hop cultivar harvest parameters and resin results 2014-2015

Hop Rub:
Begin to familiarize yourself with cultivar-specific characteristics.  Breaking apart or rolling a few hop cones to observe the aroma, lupulin colour and feel of the bracts can help growers know if the hops are ready for harvest or if they are too early or too late.  Most cultivars will exhibit the aroma of fresh cut grass and pale yellow-white lupulin if too early, while hops that are past maturity typically exhibit a rancid smell or aroma similar to alliums (onion and garlic) and lupulin will turn a dark yellow-orange colour.

McDonald, M.R., Bakker, C., Elford, E.M.A. 2016. Hops: A potential niche crop for Ontario, 2013-2015 cultivar evaluation. Final Report for the New Directions Research Program.  Available: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/research/new_directions/projects/ndprojectindex.html

PDF Version of this article available here: Hop Harvest Timelines in Ontario

PDF of Table 1:Table of harvest date ranges for 10 hop cultivars grown in Ontario field trials 2013-2015

PDF of Table 2:Table of harvest data for 10 hop cultivars grown in Ontario field trials 2013-2015

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Continue managing late season downy mildew in hops

As most growers are aware, downy mildew is extremely active in Ontario hops this year due to the ideal conditions for development of the disease.  For new growers, an article on identifying symptoms of this disease can be found in this blog post  (https://onspecialtycrops.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/identifying-downy-mildew-in-hops/).  Although some areas of the province have dried up somewhat, it is still important to continue sprays of preventative fungicides, as the disease can easily spread to the cones.   Given the high levels of the disease across the province it is important to continue with sprays to protect developing bracts before cones close up.

For conventional growers, rotations of Zampro (ametoctradin + dimethomorph – Group 40/45), Torrent (cyazofamid – Group 21) , Revus (mandipropamid – Group 40) and Copper 53W (copper sulphate – Group M) should be continuing on a 7-10 day interval. In areas of the province that are drier and have less active infection, it may be possible to stretch the application interval longer,  Organic growers have more limited options for control of downy mildew.  Copper 53 W is likely the most effective organic product, but is limited to 4 applications per season.  This can be rotated with Regalia Maxx and Serenade Opti, however both of these products are labelled for partial suppression only of downy mildew.     Continue reading

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Powdery mildew active in Ontario hops

Powdery mildew

While downy mildew is still the predominant disease affecting hops in Ontario, it’s not the only disease growers have to worry about.  Over the last week, we have had several reports of powdery mildew in commercial hop yards across the province.   Powdery mildew was first reported in Ontario in 2014 (see this blog post for that report https://onspecialtycrops.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/powdery-mildew-detected-in-ontario-hops/), however it has not been commonly reported from commercial yards until this year.  Powdery mildew was also reported earlier this season affecting commercial hop yards in Michigan.

Conditions this year in many areas of Ontario have been ideal for the spread of powdery mildew.  Optimal conditions for powdery mildew infection in hops include high humidity, reduced light levels/cloudy conditions and temperatures between 18 and 21°C (although infection can occur between 8 and 28°C).  Unlike downy mildew, powdery mildew does not require free water (wet leaves) to infect and the spores can germinate under high humidity alone.

Continue reading

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Lavender Crop Update – July 21, 2017

Lavandins are reaching full bloom in many areas (Figure 1), while angustifolia cultivars are at the end of bloom. Most cultivars are past the best stage for flower bundle harvest, except for fresh bundles of lavandins. Harvest for essential oil distillation can be done at any time now on both types of lavender. Since angustifolias are past bloom, it is best to harvest for distillation as soon as possible. Not only does essential oil quality gradually degrade over time, especially in wet weather, but some cultivars begin to shatter their buds easily and yield potential can be reduced substantially if this occurs.

Figure 1. Closeup of a ‘Grosso’ lavandin flower at peak bloom on July 21, 2017. Note some of the buds are finished blooming with dried petals still attached, some have not bloomed yet, and the rest are in full bloom. Oil yield reaches its peak at this stage, remains at that level to the end of harvest and only is lost with the loss of buds. Continue reading

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Ginseng Crop Update – July 14, 2017

We have had about 36 straight hours of leaf wetness over the past two days. This combined with heavy downpours and moderate temperatures both day and night are perfect conditions for the development of foliar Phytophthora. Re-application of foliar fungicides may be required. Continue reading

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Farmer Mental Health – A Conversation that Matters

By: Jessica Kelly, Direct Farm Marketing Specialist, OMAFRA

“That project taught me some important lessons like just because something looks profitable in Excel does not necessarily translate into actual profitability.  That project was an unmitigated disaster from a production standpoint and the timing coincided with a run up in corn values and collapsing hog prices.  As fall turned to winter in 2012, our financial position deteriorated rapidly and losing everything that Mum and Dad had built became a real possibility.  I internalized this, blaming myself entirely for the failure of the project and causing the extra level of vulnerability for my parent’s finances.  I could not sleep nor could I communicate with loved ones as I retreated down the dark path of depression.  My self-hate knew no bounds, I would scream at myself in the barn when I made simple errors, I would be paralyzed in the seat of my car when I got to the barn, dreading actually going in to the building.”  

Continue reading

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Hops Field Days in July

See below for information about two upcoming OHGA-hosted field days.

Growing season is well underway, but there is still time for great learning opportunities.  In conjunction with OMAFRA, the Ontario Hop Growers’ Association is offering two field dates.

Western Ontario

Date:  Thursday, July 6, 5-7 pm

Hosted by:  Tavistock Hop Company, 2509 Perth Line 26, RR2 Tavistock (Park anywhere on the front lawn beside the driveway)

Eastern Ontario

Date:  Monday July 17, 4-6:30 pm

Hosted by:  Don Wilford, 891 Chase Rd., Consecon, Ontario, K0K 1To


Informal in-field workshop with Evan Elford & Melanie Filotas of OMAFRA

Evan will talk about irrigation, fertility or other production issues and Melanie will talk about pests of the moment, followed by a Q&A.  Growers are invited to bring unknown plant and insect samples for diagnosis (must be in sealed bag and not brought into the host hopyard).

To register or for more information, please visit:  https://form.jotform.ca/71644916288265



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