This year we are once again bringing you closer to the Hallertau with our entertaining HopUpdates video, produced directly on-site in the hop fields by our experts. With the HopUpdates, you will learn first-hand about plant development and the outlook for the new hop harvest.
Welcome to our harvest special in September as part of our BarthHaas HopUpdates. Today we are visiting the Hörmann family in Tegernbach near Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm. Our guest today is Benedikt Matsche from sales, who wants to get an idea of how the harvest is going. Hello Bene!
B: Hello Christian! Best we get right into it! How is the harvest this year?
Our colleague Kathrin Obermeier is over at the fields and will be able to give us an overview of what the hop development is like. Let’s head on over!
B: Hello Kathrin! I'm sure you’ll be able to fill me in on this year’s harvest.
K: Yes, of course! We are in the middle of the harvest, however some farms have already finished. Aroma varieties are typically harvested early. Most growers are harvesting the largest variety by area right now, Herkules. Some flavor varieties are also still being harvested in the coming days and weeks. Otherwise, the end is in sight for many growers.
B: Great, and how has the harvest been so far?
K: We had a dry spring, so all the spring work was done on schedule. In summer we had a lot of rain, especially in the summer months of June, July and August. We had sufficient rainfall of about 100 l/m2 each. In terms of water supply, these were optimal growing conditions for the hops. However, this precipitation caused damp conditions of course and increased issues in diseases such as downy mildew and, in some cases, powdery mildew. The farmers were required to regularly check their crops and carry out control measures.
B: Okay, what can brewers expect? Should they be worried about supply?
K: No, of course not. The hops were rather restrained in growth in the spring, but have developed well, as already shown in our last HopUpdates. We are satisfied and expect an average to slightly above-average crop.
B: Great! Kathrin you already said that Herkules is being harvested right now, how can you tell that the hops are now ripe for harvesting?
K: You can see that the hops are ready both by the coloring of the bine and the cones: you’ll already be able to smell the distinct aroma of the compact cones. Even better is to tear the entire cone lengthwise and rub the two parts together to smell the full aroma.
B: Very cool! Which indicates that the hops have now reached picking maturity. Kathrin, you said the wet weather was a problem this year, is there anything the hop growers can do to counteract these conditions?
K: Yes, there is and BarthHaas is also working on this. But: it's best to ask the farmer directly what the options are.
Next to me is Christian Hörmann, one of our trial farmers. Hello Christian! How was your work in the hop fields in this season?
C: The same as probably most hop growers in the Hallertau region: lots of rainfall, difficult soil to drive on, but we still managed very well with our trials.
You are one of our trial growers, using the new perennial cover cropping system, which is not so common in the Hallertau. And that is why BarthHaas tasked themselves in investigating alternative management systems to make hop cultivation prepared for climate change. In hop cultivation, climate change means increasingly drier and warmer summers, higher variability of precipitation, and this year is rather atypical with all the precipitation; it will tend to be drier in the future. That's why we want to make our soil fit, with those kinds of plants that root deeply through the soil, opening it up more deeply, improving water and nutrient retention. We have seen it this year that the perennial cover crop also offers a clear advantage in summers with high precipitation.
C: That's exactly how it is, this year we had an intense year: lots of precipitation, intense rainfall, short time windows for crop protection application. But trial with perennial cover cropping has worked well, we are now in the second year of trial. We have waited until the weather allowed for crop protection measures. We didn't have any difficulties with our ability to drive on the soils, which was a big advantage.
Sounds great! So, you also had advantages while harvesting?
C: Yes, you can see that we did not cause any structural damage either during the vegetation period or now during harvesting.
We absolutely want to continue our cooperation in the future! Thanks to Christian!
B: Kathrin, how are the alphas this year?
K: The alpha acid values are pleasing, they are above average for all varieties. Even the most important variety, Herkules, has a lot of alpha acids according to the first results, but the other varieties have high values as well.
B: Shall we take a closer look at the hops, fresh from the kiln?
K: As we have already observed in the field, even after drying, the hops can be seen to have been affected by various diseases. You can see slight discoloration, which occur mainly from ripening. But this does not limit the brewing quality of the hops. - Even these brown and yellow spots do not interfere with the brewing quality. Still a great aroma!
B: Are there any new varieties?
K: The newest varieties, which are already in cultivation, are Diamant and Aurum, which are classic aroma varieties with a flowery-hoppy aroma. Also new is Tango, a variety adapted to climate change with a fruity aroma.
B: Sounds great, the brewers should be happy!
Thanks to Benedikt for the visit! Thanks to the Hörmann family and the entire harvest team for their active support!
We wish you a good finish to the 2021 harvest!