The hop harvest in Galicia has started this week with a series of developments thanks to the research carried out on this climbing plant in recent years by the Centro de Investigaciones Agrarias de Mabegondo (Mabegondo Agricultural Research Centre) in collaboration with Corporación Hijos de Rivera. For the first time in Spain the British variety Admiral, which has offered up interesting results in its evolution, will be harvested. In addition, this year tests have been carried out on the use of hemp cord cultivated in Quiroga (Lugo) for the plants to climb up, allowing possible silage as cattle feed afterwards.
Also, for the fourth year running, the ecological hop harvest is being carried out, following the procedures marked out by the CRAEGA (Consejo Regulador de la Agricultura Ecológica en Galicia/ Regulatory Council for Ecological Agriculture in Galicia), a unique project in Spain. The ecological hop plot is located on the Mabegondo facilities and it is the result of a research and testing process that has meant the transition from conventional to ecological cultivation.
The harvest of Galician hops will last around two weeks. Due to a persistent drought in recent months, the production this year is expected to be slightly lower than previous years. This year, the Nugget, Magnum, Perle, Sladek, Merkur and Cascade, as well as the recently added Admiral, will be the main varieties harvested.
As a result of the start of this research project, a number of private initiatives have emerged to cultivate hops in Galicia by individuals who have come together under the cooperative LUTEGA. The CIAM and Hijos de Rivera make all the findings of the research undertaken available to them so they can put them into practice when cultivating their hops. The plots located at the CIAM facilities have 2.2 hectares of experimental hops cultivated whilst those grouped under the cooperative LUTEGA make up 4 hectares.
The initiative to recover the cultivation of hops in an experimental plot, which arose in 2004 with the objective of making a special beer for the Estrella Galicia Centenary, has become consolidated and has grown throughout these years with Hijos de Rivera contributing an increasing amount of means and effort to the project.
From that moment, the company has made its traditional Estrella de Navidad (Christmas Estrella) every year with the Galician hops from its plots at the CIAM.