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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:


Latin Name: Humulus lupulus

Plant Family: Cannabaceae

Close Relatives: Hemp, cannabis

Uses and Markets: Culinary (hop cones are used primarily for imparting aroma and flavour in beer, young tender leaves and shoots can also be cooked), Medicinal (hops have historically been used as a sleep aid, to reduce tension and to improve digestion), Ornamental (some varieties are used as ornamental garden plants or for use in decorative garlands and dried floral arrangements).


Early season stringing in hop yardHops reaching full trellis heightHops on trellis with 'v' style stringing to increase plant density, light interception and length of vertical climbHop cone on plantMechanical hop harvesterHarvested and dried hop conesHermaphrodite hop plant - Male and female inflorescence appearing on the same plantVacuum packing hops to limit oxidationIndividual packages of hops for small scale brewing
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Hops are dieocious plants, having separate male and female plants.  Only female plants are cultivated for the flower (cone).  Male plants are typically removed from the hop yard if found to prevent fertilisation and subsequent seed development in the female cone.   Hops require a chilling period at 4°C (or below) for 30-60 days for proper shoot initiation in spring.  When the hop bines are approximately 60 cm long, select the 2-6 largest bines for trellising and prune remaining foliage.  

Propagation method

Most commonly by rhizomes, softwood cutting. Less commonly by crowns. Established plants can be divided after 3 years.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Dates


Field Transplanting Dates

Early May onwards.

In-row spacing

0.75-1 m between hills.

Between row spacing

3-5 m

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.  Experience from other jurisdictions suggests nitrogen application rates of approximately 84 kg N/ha during the establishment year and 112-168 kg N/ha for established hop yards. Fertilizer applications should begin in the spring (late April) and continue every 2-3 weeks applying no more than 28 kg N/ha at any one time until early summer (beginning of July). Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

All soil types, well drained.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit

5.5-6.5 m (18-21 feet) high trellis is required for production of most cultivars.  Some low trellis cultivars exist. Good air circulation and drainage is needed for disease management.

Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Freeze tolerant (rhizomes and crown); Frost sensitive (young shoots and tissues).

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation required under normal Ontario conditions.  Hops require approximately 700-800 mm of water in total during the growing season. Two critical periods exist for moisture, early spring when plants begin to grow and mid-summer just prior to flowering.

Days to harvest

120-150 depending on cultivar.

Specialized equipment

Ladders, moving stairs or platforms are required for stringing, harvesting and general maintenance of hop bines and trellis structures.  Mechanical hop pickers are available on the market.  They are large, stationary units that are typically imported from Europe.  Smaller units have recently been designed in the USA for small scale production.  If producing pelletised hops, specialised hop pellitising equipment is required which runs at a lower temperature than wood or grass pelletisers in order to prevent volatilisation or degradation of hop oils and preserve quality.

Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest (5-10 day harvest window).

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest or machine harvest.

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Hops can be harvested and processed for different markets – refer to post harvest section for more information.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Stems and leaves may cause skin irritation. Wear protective gloves and clothing. Pregnant women should avoid working with hops for an extended period of time as they can have antispasmodic effects.
Fresh or wet hops are picked and distributed to the brewer within 24-48 hours for seasonal ‘harvest ales’.  Dried whole leaf hops are dried to approximately 8-12% moisture content with a shelf life of 6 or more months. Pelletised hops are dried whole leaf hops which have been processed in a pelletiser with a shelf life of 2 years.  Both dried whole leaf hops and pelletised hops are packaged to remove oxygen and exclude light to prevent degradation, typically via a vacuum packing system. Hops must be dried quickly at a maximum temperature of 60°C to prevent degradation of volatile compounds. Extracting resin from hops is also possible and specialised equipment would be required.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH):N/A

Temperature: 1 to 4°C for fresh hops; -6 to -1°C for dried/pelletised hops.

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: Depends on end product and market (see special handling/curing notes above).

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop):

Insects and Invertebrates: Leafhoppers (potato leafhopper, Empoasca fabae, and others), two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), hop aphid (Phorodon humuli), hop looper (Hypena humuli),  Japanese beetle (Popillia japanoica), cutworms, rose chafer (Macrodactylus subspinosus), slugs, earwigs, leafrollers, question mark caterpillar/eastern comma (Polygonia interrogationis/Polygonia comma), various caterpillar defoliators

Diseases: Downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora humuli), powdery mildew (Podosphaera macularis), Alternaria leaf blight, Alternaria cone disorder (Alternaria alternate), fungal leaf spots (e.g. Phoma), viruses

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Prionus beetle (Prionus californicus), bertha armyworm (Mamestra configurata), garden symphylan, root weevils (strawberry root weevil, black vine weevil, etc.), hop flea beetle (Psylliodes punctulatus), western spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata undecimpunctata)

Diseases: Fusarium canker (Fusarium sambucinum),  Fusarium cone tip blight (F. crookwellense, F. sambucinum, F. avenaceum) Verticillium wilt (Verticillium albo-atrum, V. dahlia), red crown rot (Phomopsis tuberivora/Phacidiopycnis spp.), black root rot (Phytophthora citricola), gray mold (Botrytis cinerea), white mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum), carlaviruses (American hop latent virus, hop latent virus, hop mosaic virus), apple mosaic virus, hop stunt viroid, hop cyst nematode (Heterodena humuli)

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario:.downy mildew, powdery mildew, two spotted spider mite, potato leafhopper. Hop varieties vary in susceptibility to major pests.  While many major pests of hops in Ontario are similar to those in the major production areas in the western U.S., there are some differences.  For example, leafhoppers and the question mark/eastern comma caterpillars seem to be more significant pests in northeastern North America than on the west coast.  Cultural practices that encourage air circulation through the hops yard are important in managing many pests.

This crop is not in a crop group. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.   Some pest control products are registered on hops. Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Hops downy mildewPowdery mildew on hopsPhoma leaf spot on hopsTwo spotted spider mite damage to hopsLeafhoppers on hopsHop aphidHop looperQuestion mark caterpillar
Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  2. Filotas, M., Elford, E., and Westerveld, S.  2010 – present.  OMAFRA hob scouting project.  OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  3. Harris, A., Filotas, M., Elford, E., Westerveld, S., McDonald, M.R., and M. Tesfaendrias.2011. A survey of pests in Ontario Hop Yards, 2011. Undergraduate Student Experiential Learning Program/University of Guelph/OMAFRA, unpublished.
  1. Bavec, F., Breznik, B.C., and M. Breznik. 2003. Hop yield evaluation depending on experimental plot area under different nitrogen management. Plant, Soil and Environment 49: 163-167.
  2. Carter,P.R.,  Oelke, E.A.,  Kaminski, A.R., Hanson, C.V.,  Combs, S.M.,  J.D. Doll,, Worf, G.L., and E.S. Oplinger.  1990. Alternative Field Crops Manual.  University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Department of Agronomy, Madison.
  3. Gent, D.H., Barbour, J.D., Dreves, A.J., James, D.G., Parker, R., and D.B. Walsh (eds.). 2009. Field guide for Integrated pest management in hops.  1st ed.  Washington Hop Commission, Moxee.
  4. Gorst Valley Hops Workshop. March 14th, 2009. Bringing it all together: Establishment, production and processing costs, unpublished.
  5. Gringrich, C., Hart, J., and N. Christensen. 2000. Hops. Oregon State University. Bul. FG 79.
  6. Kneen, Rebecca. Small scale and organic hops production. Left Fields. 
  7. Mahaffee, W.F., Pethybridge, S.J., and D.H. Gent (eds.).  2009.  Compendium of Hop Diseases and Pests. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul.
  8. Sirrine, J. R., Rothwell, N., Lizotte, E., Goldy, R., Marquie, S., and D. E. Brown-Rytlewski.  2010.  Sustainable Hop Production in the Great Lakes Region.  Michigan State University Extension. Bul. E-3083.