We are here FOR HOPS
Czech hops = green gold
The Czech Republic is one of the world leaders in hops productions with a tradition of more than a thousand years. Almost 6,000 tonnes of hops are grown on 5,000 hectares every year here. 80% of this volume is represented by the most famous variety of hops – Saaz semi-early red bine hops (Žatecký poloraný červeňák) – with their light aroma and unmistakable taste, typical, for instance, for pilsner lager.
Hop growers in the Saaz region (Žatecko), which is the most important region in Czechia from the hop growing perspective, are especially vulnerable. The majority of their hop yards is part of a quite small microclimate, where the nearby Ore Mountains (Krušné hory) create a rain shadow. Because of this, the annual precipitation total in the area is only about 450 millimetres. Meanwhile, the nation-wide average is between 600 to 750 millimetres.
There is no beer without hops
Brewing beer without hops is possible, but the beer does not taste good. It lacks the typical bitter taste and beautiful smell which have made Czech beer famous around the world.
They once tried to brew a hop-free beer in Plzeňský Prazdroj and let people taste it. Their reactions say it all. Hops are simply essential for beer.
During November 2021, we planted the first six hop yards in the Saaz region with weather stations and soil sensors. We gradually added time-lapse cameras and placed so-called hop ECG sensors directly on hop plants. These provide unique information about what the plants need and how they develop depending on the weather. The first harvest is over and proved that obstacles related to climate changes are not disappearing. Based on the results of the data analysis, a pilot application is being made which will – to certain extent – be able to predict the climate, the condition of the soil and the impact on the plants. It will be made available to hop growers during 2023. Soil sensors and weather stations remained on hop yards during winter, we will add the hop ECG in spring and continue collecting data and monitoring climate conditions in the soil and air.
This smart way will show us when the plants need water. This way, hop growers will be able to manage water, of which there is often a short supply, more efficiently and ensure sustainable growth of the precious resource in the future.