History Byte – Getting Ready for the Hops harvest!


Hops grown at Black Creek Pioneer Village, almost ready for harvest!

Our hops have been growing rapidly over the last month and are almost ready to harvest (thanks Louis!) Harvest time was a busy time for everyone, but especially for hop growers. Harvesting usually began on the 1st of September in England and the United States, and about two weeks later in Canada. Pickers were primarily women and children. Large wooden bins, 12 feet long and 3 feet wide were divided into four equal compartments. The hop vines were cut about three feet up from the ground, the poles were pulled up and laid across the bin which allowed four people to pick at the same time. The bin was then moved to the next pole, and the pole was cleaned and put away for the winter.

Early 20th Century hop pickers from Delaware County, New York. Image from Davenport, Fact and Fancy by Mary S. Briggs available at http://www.dcnyhistory.org

The average picker could pick two boxes a day and wages in the US in the 1870s averaged 30-40 cents a box. After picking, the hops had to be dried before they began to ferment and decompose. Prior to 1852, Canada didn’t grow enough hops to export and actually imported 37 653 lbs in 1850. By 1852 production was improving, with a yield of 224 222lbs. By 1869 they were producing enough hops to export 411 842 lbs with a market value of 46 898 pounds! For a first hand account of hops production around the world, check out this awesome resource available thanks to google books!

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