Hops could be region's next big thing
By David LennardEAST Anglia may be about to challenge the “garden of England” as the national centre for growing hops.An enterprising initiative in Suffolk has seen a new variety of hop harvested and it is hoped the region may become as famous for hop growing in the future as Kent is now.
By David Lennard
EAST Anglia may be about to challenge the “garden of England” as the national centre for growing hops.
An enterprising initiative in Suffolk has seen a new variety of hop harvested and it is hoped the region may become as famous for hop growing in the future as Kent is now.
Tim Passmore, one of the men behind the scheme, said 25 acres of hops had been grown at a farm in Sibton, near Saxmundham, and it was hoped more land would be planted with the crop next year.
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“Hops are a real and viable alternative crop for many farmers. Suffolk and Norfolk provide ideal growing conditions and we think there is a great future for hops in this region,” he added.
During the 19th Century Suffolk was a rich area for hops, but it lost favour with farmers because the hops could grow as high as 16ft high and a large amount of people were needed to bring in the harvest.
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For more than 100 years hops has not been a commercial crop in Suffolk, but that could all change now.
A new dwarf-type of hop that grows to between 8ft and 10ft high is responsible for the turnaround.
“It may seem strange that we are referring to a crop growing to 10ft in height as a dwarf, but the difference is essential,” said Mr Passmore.
“It means that the crop can be harvested mechanically instead of by hand and that there is no longer the need for a huge labour force.”
Suffolk brewers, including Adnams, Greene King and St Peters, have already been to see the crop and expressed an interest in it.
Michael Wright, who is also involved in the hop-growing project, said: “We firmly believe that Suffolk provides the best hop-growing conditions in the world.
“There is a real opportunity for farmers in the region to consider growing hops as a viable commercial alternative to other crops.”