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Hop Maturity: The Impact of When They Pick

Hops vary from farm to farm, lot to lot, and year to year—but few variables have as much influence on the final aroma and flavor of the hops as when they’re harvested. Stan Hieronymus explains the developing science.

Stan Hieronymus Nov 22, 2021 - 13 min read

Hop Maturity: The Impact of When They Pick  Primary Image

Photo: Courtesy CLS Farms

In Germany, the 2021 hop harvest began seven days later than usual. In Idaho and Washington state, the start of harvest varied from three to eight days later. In Oregon, however, it started three days early. So, why does it matter?

Here’s one reason: If climate change results in more frequent weather events—in 2021, those were the heat dome that settled over the U.S. Northwest, wildfires and their smoke in Washington state, and an unseasonably cold spring in Germany—then harvest windows may continue to open and close on different dates each year. Fortunately, recent research provides growers with increasingly better information about when their fields will be ready. “When you harvest can play a bigger role [on quality] than the year itself,” says Mike Roy, CEO of Roy Farms.

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