Even in the winter time we are building healthy soil with cover crops.
Certified organic farming is regulated by USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). USDA-approved certifying agents inspect the farms and approve the products with annual farm visits.
The areas of most concern in organic hop production are fertility and pest management.
Hops by their nature are a high input crop. The majority of the inputs in organic farming are naturally occurring. To enhance fertility we use a combination of composted chicken manure, cow manure from a neighboring dairy farm, cover crops, and organic fertilizers containing minerals and plant materials. All of these inputs provide the environment for optimizing the biological activity in the soil, which maintains its long-term health and productivity.
We manage the pests by releasing natural predators and spraying an insecticidal soap.
- The two-spotted spider mite is controlled by augmenting the natural population of predators with Amblyseius Fallacis predator mites, with the hope of establishing a long term population.
- The hop aphid is controlled by a soap spray that reduces the aphid population below damaging levels. Natural aphid predators like ladybugs are able to finish the work.
During the growing season, we monitor the fields weekly, sampling for both pests and predators. All of this fits together in a puzzle that continues to evolve.