hist-brewing: Some additional information about growing hops based on latitude

Bill Velek billvelek at alltel.net
Sat Feb 16 12:08:03 PST 2008

I will mention most craft brewing countries in this post, starting with 
the U.S. and Canada, but I have broken this down into labeled sections 
in case you prefer to go straight to your own area of the world.

Contrary to the impression that many people have, cultivation of hops is 
not limited to the Pacific Northwest within the U.S. (Washington, Idaho, 
and Oregon), ... despite that this is where our commercial hop farming 
is concentrated; hops have been grown, with varying degrees of success, 
throughout _most_ of the continental U.S.  Hops do _prefer_ latitudes 
between 35 and 55 -- which is everything in the continental U.S. that 
lies north of a line that runs from just north of Los Angelos and goes 
east across the Texas panhandle through almost the center of Arkansas 
and almost along the southern border of Tennessee and includes most of 
North Carolina; however, we have reports, within my Grow-Hops group, of 
successful growers in South Carolina, Georgia, and even as far south as 
Austin, Texas, which has a latitude of about 30.25 -- and which is 
farther south than ALL of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Mississippi, 
Alabama, and Georgia, and all but the very bottom of Texas and Louisiana 
and the Florida peninsula.  We also have a successful grower in Hawaii. 
  So, hops should be _capable_ of growing in nearly all of the 
continental U.S. with the proper care, if anyone is interested in giving 
it a try. Please see my "EVERYWHERE" section, below.

The recommended 35-to-55 latitude band covers probably 95% of Canada's 
populated area, including everything south of a line that runs east-west 
through _about_ the middle of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, 
Manitoba, and most of Ontario and Quebec. Unlike the additional 'margin' 
band in the south (see U.S., above), I will be surprised if hops will 
grow much farther north than latitude 55 degrees because of the cold 
temperatures which can't be remedied as easily as short daylight.  But 
we do have a member in Sweden who is going to try, and possibly members 
in Scotland, as well.  Please see my "EVERYWHERE" section, below.

Turning to Europe, that same latitude band of 35-to-55 includes _almost_ 
all of Europe, including all of Spain, Italy and Sicily (although they 
are not known for growing hops), and excludes only part of Northern 
Ireland, and most of Scotland, Denmark, and countries around the Baltic 
Sea and north of Poland.  However, we do have a member in Sweden who is 
going to give it a try.  Please see my "EVERYWHERE" section, below.

Australia, New Zealand, South Africa:
In the southern hemisphere, where the same latitude band applies, only 
the southern portion of Australia falls within it -- south of a line 
from about Adelaide to Canberra -- but Perth and Sydney fall well within 
that addition area above 30 degrees (Austin, Texas).  All of New Zealand 
is in the preferred band, too.  But for all practical purposes, all of 
South Africa lies below the preferred band, with most of it even lower 
than the marginal 30 degrees of Austin, Texas, which is why electric 
lights are needed to supplement daylight, as will be explained below. 
Please see my "EVERYWHERE" section, below.

I'll mention part of Asia, too, since I've seen a _few_ posts in brewing 
forums from members in Japan and South Korea -- almost all of those 
countries lie within the preferred band, with the rest inside the margin 
band, so hops should grow there, too.  China, of course, is a major 
grower of hops with plenty of area in the preferred band. Please see my 
"EVERYWHERE" section, next.

The problem with latitudes which are much below 35 -- actually probably 
below '30' since they apparently will still grow in Austin -- is that 
the length of daylight is too short; yes, despite the hotter climate, 
'daylight' is actually closer to the equator because during summer in 
the northern hemispher, it is lit 24 hours/day at the North Pole and 
dark 24 hours/day at the South Pole.  But there is still a reasonable 
solution even below latitude 30 (for any diehards in southern Texas and 
Florida); in South Africa, for instance, which also has daylight which 
is too short, growers use electric lights to trick the hops into 
thinking that the daylight is longer, and the number of lights and their 
wattage is not as high as one might think would be necessary.  In other 
words, for just a couple of bucks worth of electricity, you can still 
grow many times that amount worth of hops.  However, an added problem in 
warm climates is 'vernalization' already discussed in another thread. 
More info is available about all of this.

Our 'Grow-Hops' Yahoo Group is less than nine months old but already has 
996 members as of this post, and has been growing _very_ rapidly in the 
past couple of months due to rising interest among homebrewers trying to 
find ways to ensure a supply of the hops they want at reasonable prices.
If interested, please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Grow-Hops


Bill Velek

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