So my question is I live in Bridge Oregon. I have a 5 acre field I plan on using to grow some sort of crop. Will hops grow in my location and or what commercial crop would be best suited?
Coos County Oregon small farms
Hop Production Resources
1. Soil survey data: available online at www.websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov
This is an excellent resource. You can highlight the specific area on the map and it will give you the soil type and description. From the brief reading I’ve done, hops prefer deep sandy loam soils. It looks like those are available … whether or not that’s what you’ve got is yet to be determined – and there may be flexibility in the soil type as long as there is good drainage.
2. Hop production information resources:
a. USA Hops www.usahops.org
b. This publication lays out the cost of production vs return. I think it’d be helpful: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS028E/FS028E.pdf
c. Michigan State University Extension has a great site, that has, as I understand it, the most up-to-date information on hop production. It also has several articles that give you a good overview of the infrastructure that would need to be in place before you could start growing them. It appears to be quite an investment. In addition, specialized equipment is necessary for picking and drying the hops, unless you plan on doing the picking by hand. I could be a neat niche for our area, if there is enough demand for local supply. The website: hops.msu.edu
d. Oregon Hop Commission: www.oregonhops.org
The website has the contact information for the Commission. I called them and they were very helpful.
e. OSU also has a Fertilizer Guide for hops:
3. Harvester information
4. Yield and production information (organic vs conventional)
I think that should give you lots to start with. The MSU site will probably be the most helpful for you – their “Getting Started” section looked really good.
For some other information I received from speaking with the rep from the Oregon Hop Commission, she said typically brewers use about 1 lb of hops/barrel. A big company like Sierra Nevada might make 1 million barrels/year, while most smaller breweries operate on a scale of 1,000 barrels/year. Also, she mentioned that the center of hop production in Oregon is in the Valley because the farms have already been established (it’s expensive to set them up) and the harvesting and drying equipment is there.
You might also consider blueberries. OSU extension has a large number of publications that would be helpful in determining if they might make a good return on your investment: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/details.php?search=blueberries&submit.x=0&submit.y=0
well-drained, sandy loam soils
at least 120 frost free days
ample spring moisture, warm summer weather