Articles

 

2009 New Zealand Hop Harvest spread over six weeks

The 2009 New Zealand Hop Harvest was completed in the first week of April having started in the last week of February, an increase in the mix of plantings has meant that for some growers their harvest has moved from four to six weeks.

 

 

Riwaka Research Station's Dr Ron Beatson selecting a trial hop plant to be picked.
 

Riwaka Research Station's Dr Ron Beatson selecting a trial hop plant to be picked.

By Doug Donelan

Brewers who have heard the hop variety descriptor of early, mid or late maturing may not appreciate the importance of this on the harvest window. In New Zealand the earliest varieties picked are northern types such as Fuggle and Goldings, moving onto Pacifica, Cascade and the Saaz Triploids Motueka and Riwaka. It's all about timing. When hops are ready to be picked it has to happen quickly or there is the risk of losing them. The mid season is where the bulk of the hops sit within New Zealand's harvest with New Zealand Hallertau Aroma and Pacific Gem taking up most of mid March with the later types such as Super Alpha and the very late Green Bullet finishing off the season.

Researchers harvesting small plot trials.

 

 

Researchers harvesting small plot trials.

 

A good growing season was attributable to the stable Nelson climate at the north end of the south Island which annually boasts more than 2500 hours of sunshine. After a brief but icy winter, the spring brought some good falls of rain, with the summer being very warm and dry throughout. Fortunately excellent levels of winter rain had replenished the districts dams and the melting snow packs filled the rivers and aquifers making water for irrigation plentiful.

To finish off the growing season good levels of warm summer rain in mid February set the crop up with most varieties yielding above their average and delivering a fifteen percent increase above industry projections. As inexplicably as ever the alpha acid levels displayed their enigma with some varieties being slightly above expectation but on the whole it was at best an average alpha year.

During selections the overall quality scores were pleasingly high across all varieties with the high intensity of the aromas and the verdant greenness of the hops being repeatedly remarked upon. it was a really stunning crop.

Research team members loading the "Wolf" pilot picker.

 

 

Pilot kiln transferred to conditioning floor.  

Research team members loading the "Wolf" pilot picker.

 

Pilot kiln transferred to conditioning floor.

 

An area that deserves mention regarding the harvest is the work carried out by the New Zealand Institute of Plant and Food Research. The small team based at the Riwaka Research Station and ably led by Hop Breeder Dr Ron Beatson picked a total of fourteen hundred different varieties from the various trial plots and breeding selections they manage on behalf of the industry and partnered by The New Zealand Hop Research Committee.

Dr Ron Beatson loads the mini kiln (inset) which will dry more than a 1000 samples in the season.  

Dr Ron Beatson loads the mini kiln (inset) which will dry more than a 1000 samples in the season.

 

Picking and kilning is carried out on a pilot scale operation with selections destined for brewing trials being further processed to pellets by New Zealand Hops. In some instances as little as a few kilograms are processed and packaged for pilot brewing trials. The last hop released from the programme and now grown commercially was Pacific Jade in 2004. A triploid alpha type originally believed to reach maturation mid season has now shown to be a later variety which is quite fortunate for an industry with an already dominant mid season crop. Thirteen out of the seventeen commercial varieties harvested this year were developed through the New Zealand hop research programme with five of these varieties also being grown under organics.

New Zealand hop harvest 2009
Variety
(NZ Triploids)
Quantity Grown (kg) % Alpha (Av)
(spectro)
Type
(Application)
Pacific Gem 217,000 15.1 Alpha
Pacific Jade 45,000 14.0 Alpha
Nelson Sauvin 29,000 11.5 Dual Purpose
NZ Hallertau Aroma 350,000 7.6 Dual Purpose
Motueka 30,000 8.0 Aroma
Pacifica 42,000 5.7 Aroma
Organics 14,000 N/A Mixed
Other (includes grower trials) 103,000 N/A Mixed
Total 830,000    

 

Acknowledgements

Technical, Hort Research New Zealand and Zonda Resources, New Zealand.


 
Enquiry Form